Scientists and economists are taking a good look at how salmon habitat is faring in the Mat-Su valley.

For the sixth year the Mat-Su Salmon Partnership is addressing impacts humans and development have on salmon habitat. The valley has seen enormous growth this past decade and Executive Director of Earth Economics David Batker says the watershed must be kept in mind as more land is developed, “We’ve got to have the right perspective of natural systems, you can kind of work with nature or you can work against it and mother nature is pretty tough to work against,” said Batker in front of a large crowd in Palmer.

Along the Matanuska River human development is easy to see, and it’s accelerating but so are flooding concerns with their own economic toll. “Maybe we don’t want to build in the flood plane, maybe we want to value those natural services and that cuts down the cost of everybody in the borough that does not have to pay for emergency services to deal with flooded homes,” said Andy Couch with the Mat-Su Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The goal is to be smart about development as the valley grows, while recognizing the value of the fish that swim nearby. “There needs to be a realistic economic evaluation of the overall view. You need to determine what might be the best use for any particular parcel of land,” said Howard Delo with the Mat-Su Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The Salmon Symposium continues Thursday at the Palmer Community Center Depot with discussions on conserving and restoring salmon habitat. The event is free and open to the public.