Alaska Science Forum: High-country Eden for sockeye salmon

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EAST FORK OF THE GULKANA RIVER — In late summer, a few months before this mossy valley will feel the sting of 40-below air, bright red salmon dart through a crystal-clear pool amid fragrant green vegetation. The Gulkana Hatchery has a Garden-of-Eden feel, which is fitting since millions of sockeye salmon begin life here each year.

“There are seven springs in the canyon,” said Gary Martinek, former manager of this salmon hatchery just off the Richardson Highway between Summit and Paxson lakes during an interview in 2011. “From summer to winter the water temperature only varies 3 degrees. This water is the key to the hatchery.”

On most days

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