The Tlikakila River Basin, located in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, drains an area of 622 square miles. This watershed comprises about 21 percent of the Lake Clark Basin, making it one of the major tributaries to Lake Clark. Due to a sharp decline in sockeye salmon population and the lack of hydrologic data, the Tlikakila River and five other major tributaries to Lake Clark were studied during the summer runoff months (May through September) from 1999 through 2001 as part of a cooperative study with the National Park Service.
Measurements of pH and dissolved oxygen concentrations of the Tlikakila River are within acceptable limits for fish survival. Water temperatures at the measurement site reach 0 ?C during the winter and this part of the Tlikakila River may not be suitable for fish. Water temperatures are within acceptable limits for fish during the summer months. The Tlikakila River is a calcium bicarbonate type water with a low buffering capacity. Concentrations of un-ionized ammonia are well below the recommended value of 0.02 mg/L for fish propagation. Annual transport of suspended sediment by the Tlikakila River into Lake Clark ranged from 0.4 to 1.5 million tons during 1999?2001. The fine sediment from the Tlikakila River disperses through the lake over the summer, affecting light transmissivity.
Most runoff from the Tlikakila River occurs from mid-to-late May through September. Average discharge for these months during 1999?2001 was 6,600 ft?/s. Total annual inflow to Lake Clark from the Tlikakila River ranged from 32 to 45 percent of the total inflow. The relatively high proportion of inflow is due to the presence of glaciers, which comprise 36 percent of the watershed.
Monthly measurements of flow, field water-quality parameters, alkalinity, and suspended sediment were collected on the remaining five tributaries to Lake Clark: the Chokotonk River, Currant Creek, the Kijik River, the Tanalian River and the Chulitna River. Similar to the Tlikakila River, pH and dissolved oxygen concentrations of these rivers are within acceptable limits for fish survival and the rivers have a low buffering capacity. Small amounts of suspended sediment are transported by the Kijik and Tanalian Rivers due to lakes acting as settling basins in their watersheds. The Chulitna River also transports small amounts of suspended sediment due to its flat topography and the presence of many lakes in the basin. Some suspended sediment is transported by the Chokotonk River and Currant Creek during the runoff season due to the presence of glaciers within their basins, but not as much as the Tlikakila River. The Chulitna River provides the most discharge into Lake Clark after the Tlikakila River and has the warmest water temperature of the major tributaries to Lake Clark. Water temperatures of Currant Creek and the Chokotonk River are similar to the Tlikakila River. The Kijik River and Tanalian River have similar temperatures that may be due to the presence of lakes in their basins and are characterize by slowly declining and rising temperatures. At all sites water temperature approaches 0 ?C during winter months which may not be suitable for fish survival.