From the early days of scientists looking at the environment in new ways from a hot air balloon to the current trend of aerial drones, mapping gives us an opportunity to view our world in a way no other technology can. It helps us visualize data in unique and informative ways, it helps us understand spatial and temporal relationships and allows us the opportunity to look at the world around us, and our relationship with it, in ways which can span from scientific to artistic.
Maps and their symbols are embedded in our society, just take a look around next time you go for a drive, all those signs originated from “cartography”, the study and practice of making maps. Cartography supports all of the Kenai Watershed Forum’s other endeavors, including research, restoration and education, and we maintain an exhaustive mapping database through the use of ESRI’s Geographic Information System (GIS).


For more information about the Kenai Watershed Forum’s mapping program please scroll down to see individual project highlights and interactive mapping opportunities or contact:



Project Highlights

National Hydrography Dataset

Since 2011 the Kenai Watershed Forum has been a leader in updating the USGS National Hydrography Dataset, or NHD. We are a working partner of a statewide effort known as “AHTWG”, a committee focused on the coordination of current and future surface water hydrography mapping in Alaska. Water is fundamental to our mission and it all begins with knowing where and how accurately depicted our waters are.


Wetland Assessments



Areas mapped as wetlands (blue) in the project area (yellow). Wetlands occupy 41% of the project area.

We classified and mapped 350,811 acres of wetlands over a 809,370 acre project area at a scale of 1:24,000 on the Kenai Lowlands, Alaska (43% of the land surface)!

Learn More!


Wetlands are regulated under section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Wetlands provide valuable habitat, water quality and flood control functions. Kenai wetlands are mostly in good shape, providing good habitat, water quality and flood control. Maintenance is cheaper and easier than repair. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Kenai wetlands ain’t broke, and we’d like to keep them that way. In order to do that, a project was begun to help understand where wetlands are, then to guide the development of best management practices in order to maintain valuable wetland functions.



An example of one of the eleven types of wetlands found on the Kenai Peninsula (near Soldotna Creek).

Anadromous Waters Catalog

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game maintains a database that contains all of the salmon streams in Alaska, and they use this information to determine which waterbodies are protected.  The actual locations of the streams in this database are often inaccurate at the scale used for making decisions on individual parcels.  We now have newer technology to more accurately map these streams using a GPS, satellite image interpretation, and observations in the field.  This project preserves salmon habitat through regulatory protection and directs our attention to new stream crossings that often pose potential barriers to salmon migration.




KWF researcher mapping salmon streams on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.



“It is believed that less than 50% of the streams, rivers and lakes actually used by anadromous species in Alaska are protected in the Catalog of Waters Important for the Spawning, Rearing or Migration of Anadromous Fishes.


Alaska Department of Fish and Game




Working together for healthy watersheds on the Kenai Peninsula since 1997.