This rich ecosystem sustains a host of other wildlife — bears, moose, eagles — as well as Alaska Natives that have depended on the land and waters for subsistence for hundreds of years.

The lake is also the heart of the Bristol Bay watershed, the largest — and most valuable — salmon fishery in the world. The $1.5 billion salmon industry supplies half of the world’s salmon and supports 10,000 jobs. The region’s bounty is due to the undisturbed lakes, streams, ponds and wetlands that keep the salmon coming back every year.


In a two-phase effort, The Conservation Fund has protected nearly 14,000 acres across an archipelago of islands in northeast Lake Iliamna.

In 2017, The Conservation Fund, Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust and the Pedro Bay Corporation completed a conservation easement that protects more than 12,600 acres at the eastern end of Lake Iliamna. In 2019, a second conservation easement was completed with the Iliamna Natives, Ltd. corporation, protecting the remaining 1,200 acres. Together, these easements cover 173 islands and 283 miles of shoreline. The islands provide remote, wild and intact wetland habitat, more than half of which are nationally-declining coastal wetland types.

Funding for the conservation easement came The Conservation Fund’s Alaska in-lieu fee wetlands mitigation program—the first of its kind in the state—as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.

The Conservation Fund and Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust have been working together for 10 years to advance conservation in southwest Alaska, including the protection of 20,000 acres at Wood-Tikchick State Park.


The Islands of Lake Iliamna provide critical habitat for sockeye salmon, which support a robust commercial fishery, recreational lodge operations, and traditional subsistence activates throughout Bristol Bay. Our large-scale conservation strategy will continue to help protect important habitat for sockeye salmon as well as other fish and wildlife in the region, including trout, birds, brown bear and moose, that are important to rural residents and Native village corporations challenged with balancing economic development and resource conservation.

Fly high above Lake Iliamna with this video by Jason Ching, following the crew of the Alaska Salmon Program as they conduct sockeye salmon surveys during one of the largest migrations in recent history.