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Alaska Department of Fish and Game


Gravel Removal

These activities may require a Fish Habitat Permit (PDF 69 kB).

Gravel bars and streambeds are often easily located and utilized sources of gravel for construction needs. However, gravel removal and disturbances to streambeds from material extraction can also be a direct risk to successful salmon spawning. All salmon species and many resident fish species deposit their eggs in gravel nests called redds. When gravel is mined from below ordinary high water, it may kill or smother eggs already buried in the gravel or make the area unusable for returning salmon to spawn in. Since salmon populations return to ancestral areas to spawn, damage to a spawning area may result in the loss of an entire generation. There may also be impacts to fish habitat and passage resulting from associated changes in river hydrology and riparian vegetation.

This risk does not mean that gravel mining operations cannot be conducted, but it is important to have an understanding of the location of the project and whether or not fish populations will be affected.

Material sources above ordinary high water or in uplands areas will not need a Fish Habitat Permit from the Division of Habitat but may need a permit from another agency or office within the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR). If you are unsure, feel free to bring your project plans by one of our area offices where Habitat staff will be able to help you determine the scope of your work. Gravel extracted from state-owned lands, including the beds of navigable waterways, may require a contract for material sales from the DNR Division of Mining, Land and Water.

If your project does occur below ordinary high water in a fish bearing waterbody, the following stipulations may be written into your permit:

  • Except for the designated ingress and egress points, the streambanks shall not be altered or disturbed in any way. If stream banks are inadvertently disturbed, they shall be immediately stabilized to prevent erosion.
  • Fueling equipment while it is on river ice is prohibited.
  • There shall be no equipment or vehicles operated, or materials removed from within the wetted perimeter (flowing waters) of the stream. Gravel shall be removed only from dewatered bars.
  • There shall be no gravel washing operations performed within the bed of the stream.
  • There shall be no diverting or obstructing the flow of any channel of the stream to facilitate gravel mining operations or access to gravel mining operations.
  • Gravel shall be removed in shallow, even lifts to avoid the creation of fish entrapment basins. All depressions and potholes created by the gravel removal shall maintain positive drainage to surface flowing waters or shall be leveled to avoid fish entrapment.
  • Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation water quality standards shall be maintained in the stream at all times.
Other Permitting Agencies Related Documents and Pages
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Fish Habitat Permit Application (PDF 69 kB)
Alaska Department of Natural Resources;
Division of Mining, Land and Water
Anadromous Waters Catalog
Catalog of Waters Important for the Spawning,
Rearing, or Migration of Anadromous Fish
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Special Areas Permit Application (PDF 134 kB)
U.S. Forest Service Culvert Application (PDF 94 kB)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ADF&G Streambank Restoration Guide
Kenai Multi-Agency Permitting NOAA Habitat Restoration
North Slope Gravel Pit Performance Guidelines (PDF 5,493 kB)