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Cottonwood Creek Bridge Opens in Time for Weekend Fishing Opener

New Cottonwood Bridge

New Cottonwood Bridge

PHOTO: Courtesy of AK Department of Fish and Game

(WASILLA) – Just in time for sport fishing and summer birding construction of a new bridge over Cottonwood Creek in the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge near Wasilla is completed and open to foot traffic. 

The original bridge, installed in 1986, was deemed unsafe and condemned in 2012 due to vandalism and corrosion. The new bridge, located at the Cottonwood Creek access on the western end of the refuge off Hayfield Road, was installed using funds provided by a legislative Capital Improvement Project and a Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration grant. This summer, the Cottonwood Creek access road and parking lot will be upgraded and the parking lot expanded to accommodate an increasing number of users.

The Cottonwood Creek access is one of three major access points to the nearly 30,000-acre refuge. Access to much of the refuge from the Cottonwood Creek trailhead is difficult without a bridge over the creek.

The Palmer Hay Flats refuge protects freshwater and coastal wetlands, tidal sloughs, mudflats, lakes, streams and forests and provides habitat for tens of thousands of migratory birds including ducks, geese, swans and shorebirds. The refuge is also home to moose, a variety of other wildlife, and four species of Pacific salmon. Cottonwood Creek, which in the refuge opens to sport fishing on weekends-only starting June 15, supports popular weekend salmon fisheries. Refuge users also enjoy fall waterfowl hunting, bird watching and general outdoor recreation.

The Cottonwood Creek access site has a history of abuse including illegal target shooting, dumping, and vehicle burning. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats, Mat-Su Borough, and many community and agency partners have cleaned up all refuge access sites, improved visitor facilities, encouraged community use of the refuge, and turned access points into family-friendly sites for those wishing to enjoy the refuge’s wild lands, and fish and wildlife resources.

For more information on the refuge, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game webpage at www.refuges.adfg.alaska.gov, or contact Statewide Program Coordinator Joe Meehan at 267-2281, or joe.meehan@alaska.gov.

New Cottonwood Bridge

PHOTO: Courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game

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