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Alaska's Coastal Bays and Estuaries: Challenges and Results From 2002 South Central Alaskan EMAP

Susan M. Saupe 1 , Doug Dasher 2, and Arny Blanchard 3

1 Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council, Kenai, Alaska
2 Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Anchorage, Alaska
3 School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK

Alaska's first Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) assessed the bays and estuaries along the northern Gulf of Alaska coast in 2002. Through a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) is administering Alaska's EMAP and developed numerous partnerships to bring in expertise and build capacity within the state. Due to Alaska's extensive and inaccessible coastline, costs for conducting a coastal EMAP are high and sampling is taking place in a phased approach. Coastal Alaska is divided into five biogeographical provinces. The Alaskan Province in southcentral Alaska includes over 800 miles of coastline, including two very major estuaries, Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound, as well as areas along the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak and Afognak Islands, Shelikof Strait, and the Kenai Peninsula. Standard sampling was conducted for the core set of EMAP parameters with additional analytes added. Challenges for adapting a national program for sampling in Alaska's unique environments will be presented along with summaries and interpretations of the 2002 analytical results. Comparisons will be made to various national and other states' guidelines given the absence of water or sediment quality guidelines in Alaska for many of the EMAP parameters. Coastal EMAP in Alaska will provide a much needed context in which to interpret smaller more focused studies conducted throughout the state, given the lack of historical data for much of Alaska's marine environment. Plans are underway to sample in the Columbian Province in southeastern Alaska in summer 2004.

Keywords: Alaska, coastal assessment, sediment quality, water quality

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