Where streams & rivers meet the sea

Typical array of elevational zones in northern Southeast, where land is rising relative to sea level.

Estuaries is divided into Bare tideflat, Salt marsh and Uplift meadows & parkland. Explore those sub-categories or view the entire JuneauNature hierarchy at this site map.

Estuaries are the depositional surfaces where freshwater streams and rivers meet the sea. This category and its first 2 sub-categories consider the intertidal portions of these habitats. The 3rd sub-category addresses the adjoining supratidal meadows, shrub thickets, and young spruce forests that are especially common in the north where glacial rebound is occurring.

Mapping estuaries over a large region like Southeast Alaska is a classic exercise in landscape ecology. This requires dependence on huge spatial databases that may or may not be founded on ecological realities. In our work with freshwater wetlands, we’ve found the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) to be of limited utility. But salt marshes, mudflats and algal beds are more easily distinguished and mapped than the subtleties of peatlands and forested wetlands. This map shows how NWI plays out in the search for Southeast’s largest estuaries.

The National Wetlands Inventory maps about 350,000 acres of tidal estuaries on the Tongass, about 2% of its land area. Only 42,000 acres of this are covered with ’emergent’ vegetation, or salt marsh. But whether marshy or muddy, each estuary is the ecological nexus of its watershed, important far out of proportion to the area covered.

NWI maps about 350,000 acres of tidal estuaries on the Tongass, about 2% of its land area. Only 42,000 acres of this are covered with “emergent” vegetation, or salt marsh. But each estuary is the ecological nexus of its watershed, important far out of proportion to the area covered.

In this section

History and future of the Refuge

Rebound, succession, fish&wildlife, and aviation on Juneau’s Mendenhall Wetlands In 2011, Jeff Sauer at Juneau Audubon asked for a presentation…

2011 | Richard Carstensen | 36-minute slideshow

Birds & plane safety

Beginning in late 2001, on contract with Airport EIS consultants SWCA, Bob Armstrong and I spent a full year surveying…

2004 | Richard Carstensen & Bob Armstrong | 14 pages

Tsaa T’ei Héen (Admiralty Cove)

‘Lost village’ of Áak’w Kwáan Every Tlingit Kwáan in Southeast Alaska has at least one ‘lost village,’ known in oral history…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 33 pages

Asx’ée (Eagle Beach) maps & historical series

I created an early version of this compilation while still living at the Scout camp at Asx’ée, twisted tree (Eagle River),…

2020 | Richard Carstensen | 38 pages