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Water Quality, Physical Habitat, and Biology of the Kijik River Basin, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska, 2004-2005

September 21, 2006

The U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service conducted a water-quality investigation of the Kijik River Basin in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve from June 2004 to March 2005. The Kijik River Basin was studied because it has a productive sockeye salmon run that is important to the larger Kvichak River watershed. Water-quality, physical habitat, and biological characteristics were assessed. Water type throughout the Kijik River Basin is calcium bicarbonate although Little Kijik River above Kijik Lake does have slightly higher concentrations of sulfate and chloride. Alkalinity concentrations are generally less than 28 milligrams per liter, indicating a low buffering capacity of these waters. Lachbuna Lake traps much of the suspended sediment from the glacier streams in the headwaters of the basin as evidenced by low secchi-disc transparency of 1 to 2 meters and low suspended sediment concentrations in the Kijik River downstream from the lake. Kijik Lake is a fed by clearwater streams and has secchi-disc readings ranging from 11 to 15 meters. Streambed sediments collected from four surface sites analyzed for trace elements indicated that arsenic concentrations at all sites were above proposed guidelines. However, arsenic concentrations are due to the local geology, not anthropogenic factors. Benthic macroinvertebrate qualitative multi-habitat samples collected from two sites on the Little Kijik River and two sites on the main stem of the Kijik River indicated a total of 69 taxa present among the four sites. The class Insecta, made up the largest percentage of macroinvertebrates, totaling 70 percent of the families found. The insects were comprised of four orders; Diptera (flies and midges), Ephemeroptera (mayflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies), and Trichoptera (caddisflies). One-hundred twenty-two species of periphytic algae were identified in qualitative multi-habitat samples collected at the four stream sites. Eight species of non-motile, diatoms were collected from all four stream sites suggesting that the areas from which they were collected are relatively stable and unaffected by sedimentation.