Wetlands are an important component of the natural resources within the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (Mat-Su). Wetlands link land and water and create valuable and diverse ecosystems. Residents, visitors, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the state enjoy the Mat-Su for its scenery and natural environment which are interrelated and dependent on healthy wetlands and watersheds. Tourism, hunting, and fishing are major economic sectors for the Mat-Su. Fish and wildlife resources and related recreational opportunities contribute to the quality of life for both residents and visitors to the region. The management, conservation and protection of wetlands in the Mat-Su requires a community effort in order to retain the benefits that wetlands provide to us all.
A Major Land Type in Alaska
Less than 5 percent of the U.S. consists of wetlands. However, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Alaska contains approximately 63 percent of the nation’s wetlands. Most of the state’s freshwater wetlands (around 100 million acres) are peatlands; however, the state also has marshes, bogs, fens, tundra, and meadows. Another 75 million acres are tidal wetlands and coastal estuaries. Alaska has lost approximately 200,000 acres of wetlands to development activities.
In the Mat-Su, there are 11 wetland types described on the “Identifying Wetlands” page. According to the MSB Wetlands Management Plan, approximately 25 percent of lands in the Mat-Su are wetlands. In the past, wetlands were often considered wastelands or swamps in need of draining or filling. Wetlands are now recognized as highly specialized, valuable and functional components of our environment that need to be managed and protected.
Benefits of Wetlands
Wetlands and the activities they support are key to the sustainability of the Mat-Su's economy, lands, and communities.
- Open space
- Clean water
- Recreation opportunities
- Rural character
- Outdoor recreation
- Flood control
- Clean water
- Stormwater management
- Clean Water
- Flood reduction
- Erosion control
- Habitat for moose, salmon, and waterfowl
- Groundwater recharge and purification
The National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) is a program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to identify and map wetlands in the United States. In Alaska, the NWI has limited detail, accuracy and coverage. Thus the Mat-Su Borough Planning Department, with funding assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), hired contractors to identify and map wetlands more accurately on a local scale. This mapping project included field verification for the central region of the Borough. As of 2011, over 450,000 acres of the Borough have been mapped. This local effort used stereoscopic photography, soils and geologic maps, and site visits involving sediment coring, water chemistry testing, and vegetation sampling to describe and map wetlands.
The Mat-Su Wetlands Maps and links to descriptions and photographs can be found on the Wetlands Parcel Viewer. This electronic map identifies and describes different wetland types over an area of about 450,000 acres between Palmer and Houston. Individual wetlands on the map are linked to descriptions, data, and photographs. The map was created at a scale of 1:18,000, which means a user can zoom in for a much closer view.
Despite the greatly improved accuracy of this updated resource, there are still limitations to the accuracy of the data. The map is useful to identify the extent and types of wetlands in an area, but is not sufficiently detailed to serve as an accurate wetland delineation for regulatory purposes.
For confirmation of wetlands on your property and exact legal boundaries of those wetlands, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or a qualified wetland delineator.
Map Viewer Tips
On the ArcGIS map viewer, click on the Open button in the middle of your screen just below the picture of the map.
Select the first option, “Open in ArcGIS.com map viewer” from the list of choices.
Depending on your settings, you may see a security warning. Click No to disregard the warning which enables full functionality of the viewer.
The purple features on the map are wetlands mapped by Mike Gracz in 2011, as an update to the pink features, which are wetlands from the National Wetland Inventory dataset.
Use these buttons to see: About this Map, Contents of Map, and Legend.
Other features you may want to orient yourself with are shown below.
Use your mouse to pan and use the scale slider bar to zoom and find your area of interest.
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Locate Specific Places
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See Map Details
Click the Details button to see information about the map, show the map contents, and see a legend.
About the Map
Click the About button to see a summary, the owner, the last modification date, user ratings, and a link to more detailed information. You also see options to open the map in ArcGIS Explorer Online and make your own map by adding to the existing map or making a new one. If the map includes a presentation created in ArcGIS Explorer Online after March 2, 2011, you will see an option to view the presentation.
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Click the Bookmarks button to see a list of bookmarks that let you go to a specific location n and scale on the map. See Bookmarking places for more information.