2020 Copper River Stewardship Program a success!

Copper River Stewardship Program: hands-on education during a pandemic

By Lauren Bien February, 2021

Cordova stewards pose with fish caught in one of the minnow traps before measuring and releasing them back into the stream. Photo credit: PWSSC

While the 2020 Copper River Stewardship Program looked very different than year’s past, it was still a success! Unable to travel between communities, the stewards met virtually for an introduction to the program and each other then headed into the field with program educators for two day-trips in their respective communities: Cordova and Glennallen.

The theme this year was Trout. The Cordova stewards, along with PWSSC and Copper River Watershed Project educators, set 11 minnow traps to (hopefully) catch some juveniles and learn about coastal cutthroat trout. Diligently checking each trap the following day, stewards identified: Coho salmon, Dolly Varden, stickleback, and two species of sculpin. It wasn’t until the very last trap that we could all shout, “TROUT!” Two juvenile coastal cutthroat trout were waiting to be counted, measured, and released.

Stewards also looked at stream characteristics, discussed habitat needs, compared fish species, and pondered the question, “What makes a good culvert?” Upriver and Cordova stewards met virtually after their field days and shared creative projects highlighting their connections to the watershed and brainstormed how to be better stewards for our region.

Stewards from the Copper Basin make their way through the stream. They are accompanied by a 2017 CRSP alum, Moses Korth, now a WISE intern.

This program would not be possible without our fabulous education team from many organizations: the Copper River Watershed Project, Wrangell Institute for Science & Environment, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, and the Bureau of Land Management.