piledriver program

Piledriver Slough

About the Piledriver Slough Study

The Piledriver Study is a 10-year study to monitor fish passage and beaver dams along the Piledriver Slough from the Levee site to Bailey Bridge.  This project is led by the Tanana Valley Watershed Association (TVWA) in consultation with Alaska Department of Fish and Game and in partnership with the Salcha Elementary School and others.  TVWA’s partnership with Salcha Elementary School enables students to connect with nature and gain scientific skills. TVWA sets minnow traps out 3 times each year along the Upper and Lower Piledriver Slough as well as the 23 Mile Slough. During this time TVWA connects with the students and teachers at the Salcha Elementary to conduct citizen science field trips. Students learn about fish monitoring, beaver activity, riparian changes, invasive and local plant species, observation skills via habitat assessments and water quality monitoring.  This project is funded by an agreement with the Alaska Railroad Corporation.

Student Scientists

In partnership with Salcha Elementary, TVWA created youth science education curriculum connecting nature and education in an outdoor setting. The curriculum includes how to conduct water quality, fish identification, habitat assessment, and healthy bugs. The students sample three times a year with TVWA staff. Each child is equipped with a tool kit containing supplies. Every year this program is enriched by the enthusiasm of the students and the innovative ideas of the teachers. In 2014 the Salcha Kindergarden class won 1st place in the their division of the School District Science Fair with their observations from this program.

Piledriver Annual Reports (click to view)

2017 Piledriver Report

2016 Piledriver Report   And 2016 Monitoring and Gauge Report

2015 Piledriver Report

2014 Piledriver Report

2013 Piledriver Report

2012 Piledriver Report

Who does the sampling?

TVWA Staff, Field Technicians and Volunteers

Salcha Elementary School (students, teachers and administration, parents and community members).

Scientists from the US Department of Fish and Game

Scientists from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife

Staff from the Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District

Staff from Eielson Natural Resources

Areas Studied

Hydrology Monitoring

The flow rate changes may cause ice and log jams that would hinder fish passage as well as beaver dams, which will no longer be naturally knocked out by flushing spring flows.

Beaver Dam Activity

The section of Piledriver Slough from the levee site to the Baily Bridge is surveyed to find dams twice annually - during both the spring and fall seasons. New and old dams are noted.

Monitoring Changes in Stream Form and Vegetation

Due to construction of the new rail extension a levee was put in place that blocks flushing flows into the Piledriver Slough from the Tanana River. The slough is entirely ground fed. TVWA monitors the changes in the shape of the stream banks, streambed material and vegetation in and beside the slough to determine the effect of the levee over time.

Fish Monitoring

Fish distribution, size species type are recorded using minnow traps baited with salmon roe. Larger fish are also noted when seen.

What kind of fish are found in the Piledriver Slough?

  • Chinook Salmon

  • Chum Salmon

  • Longnose Sucker

  • Grayling

  • Burbot

  • Slimy Scupin

  • Lake Chub

Are you interested in volunteering? Contact TVWA:

Cynthia Nelson - Cynthia.tvwa@gmail.com or

Jenna Jonas - Jenna.tvwa@gmail.com