Refuge Notebook

Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge 
                                A promo screen for the app “Agents of Discovery.”

Refuge Notebook: Become a secret agent at refuge headquarters

I arrived in Alaska in February, when it was still dark, cold and snow-covered. As a Floridian, I knew this was going to be a… Continue reading

 

Refuge Notebook: Kenai birches came from Asia

Evidence still needed to show what Kenai birch conclusively is

 

Refuge Notebook: Mosquito serves as unofficial Alaska state bird

Insect makes life in backcountry tough

 

Photo by Bretwood Higman 
                                Deep fissures cross the summit of Alpine Ridge above Grewingk Lake.

Refuge Notebook: Landslides awakening in our glaciated mountains

‘Across Alaska, climate change is driving retreating glaciers’

Photo by Bretwood Higman 
                                Deep fissures cross the summit of Alpine Ridge above Grewingk Lake.

Refuge Notebook: Migrations of the Kenai Lowland caribou

Being a seasonal biology technician has its perks. Every summer is a new adventure full of incredible fieldwork, new friends and amazing locations. Much like… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: What happened when the ocean warmed

The 2014 to 2016 marine heatwave, or “the blob,” in the Gulf of Alaska was connected to one of the largest known seabird die-offs globally.… Continue reading

It pays to Firewise. This structure survived the 2007 Caribou Hills Fire. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Are you Firewise?

As a young Idaho firefighter, enthusiasm and an eagerness to get dropped off on a remote mountain hillside to “slay the dragon” came in no… Continue reading

It pays to Firewise. This structure survived the 2007 Caribou Hills Fire. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Battered sallow moth caterpillars come and go

In early June, I received multiple accounts of abundant black caterpillars stripping trees and shrubs of foliage around the Marsh Lake Trail off of Skilak… Continue reading

Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge 
                                Huge sweeping vistas of inspiration are a guarantee for refuge visitors during these uncertain times.

Refuge Notebook: This land is your land, this land is my land

Bucket list! Once-in-a-lifetime! Saved up for years! Not enough time to see it all! Dream destination! I hear these exclamations at the refuge’s visitor center… Continue reading

Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge 
                                Huge sweeping vistas of inspiration are a guarantee for refuge visitors during these uncertain times.
In addition to hiking trails, the Kenai National Wildlife trail crew maintains canoe trails in the Swanson and Swan canoe trail routes as well as the Swanson River. (Photo by Kasey Renfro/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Rains, rocks and trail work on the Swanson River

Rain pounded against the windshield, encouraging a creeping melancholy as I drove myself and a volunteer north on the Sterling Highway toward Swanson River Road.… Continue reading

In addition to hiking trails, the Kenai National Wildlife trail crew maintains canoe trails in the Swanson and Swan canoe trail routes as well as the Swanson River. (Photo by Kasey Renfro/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Yearling brown bear cubs near the Russian River Ferry recently. (Photo by Matt Conner/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Tales of a federal wildlife officer — Brown bears at Russian River

The opening of this year’s sockeye fishery at the Kenai/Russian River confluence brought reports of two yearling brown bear cubs making regular appearances along the… Continue reading

Yearling brown bear cubs near the Russian River Ferry recently. (Photo by Matt Conner/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
A finished portion of the Sterling Fuel Break completed by a masticator machine. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Kenai fuel break will extend protection of communities

It’s no secret that wildfires play a significant ecological role in Alaska’s boreal forests, including those here on the western Kenai Peninsula. Everyone who drives… Continue reading

A finished portion of the Sterling Fuel Break completed by a masticator machine. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Student Julia Merculief in St. Paul, Alaska, explores refuge islands using virtual reality headsets. (Photo by Kendra Bush/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Visiting remote refuge wilderness from a classroom desk

As the education specialist for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, it is my job to bring the wonders of the refuge’s wildlife and awe-inspiring… Continue reading

Student Julia Merculief in St. Paul, Alaska, explores refuge islands using virtual reality headsets. (Photo by Kendra Bush/USFWS)
Photo courtesy of Max Kaufman, Alaska Volcano Observatory 
                                Sugarloaf Peak on Semisopochnoi Island, in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Refuge Notebook: Aleutian Islands oddities can win bets

Want to win a beer bet? Ask someone the location of the most southerly point in Alaska. The answer isn’t in Southeast, near Ketchikan. Rather,… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Max Kaufman, Alaska Volcano Observatory 
                                Sugarloaf Peak on Semisopochnoi Island, in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Archaeology students participate in a dig near Delta Junction, Alaska, conducted by Dr. Kate Krazinski and Dr. Brian Wygal of Adelphi University in summer 2019. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: One person’s trash is another’s artifact

Archaeology. OK, what was the first thing that came to your mind when you read that word? I hope it wasn’t Indiana Jones, or dinosaurs!… Continue reading

Archaeology students participate in a dig near Delta Junction, Alaska, conducted by Dr. Kate Krazinski and Dr. Brian Wygal of Adelphi University in summer 2019. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Dan Rapp and Sarah Youngren of Soldotna have spent the last five summers on Aiktak Island in the eastern Aleutians and hope to return in 2020. (Photo by Sarah Youngren)

Refuge Notebook: Learning to love the ‘sweat and shiver’ diet

Have you ever spent a weekend camping, maybe a long weekend, when the rain never seemed to quit? Where on the last day, all you… Continue reading

Dan Rapp and Sarah Youngren of Soldotna have spent the last five summers on Aiktak Island in the eastern Aleutians and hope to return in 2020. (Photo by Sarah Youngren)
Photo provided by USFWS 
                                A morel mushroom grows in disturbed gravel on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge Notebook: Forest morels: Year after fire brings rewards

2019 will be synonymous with wildland fire for most of the residents of the Kenai Peninsula, and as the details of date and time fade… Continue reading

Photo provided by USFWS 
                                A morel mushroom grows in disturbed gravel on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge Notebook: Recreational safety after the Swan Lake Fire

Residents of the Kenai Peninsula are all too familiar with wildfire after the summer of 2019. Not only did the Swan Lake Fire burn for… Continue reading

Skyline Trail has damaged tread as well as hazard trees from the Swan Lake Fire. (Photo by Christa Kennedy/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Swan Lake Fire trails update

Last fall the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge was forced to close eight trails due to Swan Lake Fire activity. Through the fall, all eight trails… Continue reading

Skyline Trail has damaged tread as well as hazard trees from the Swan Lake Fire. (Photo by Christa Kennedy/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Photo by Ronan Dugan/USFWS 
                                Kittiwakes build their sturdy nests on cliff sides, and they prefer to live in crowded neighborhoods for additional safety from predators.

Refuge Notebook: Keeping an eye on birds

Around this time of year I start to include a pair of binoculars in my checklist of essentials for heading out the door on a… Continue reading

Photo by Ronan Dugan/USFWS 
                                Kittiwakes build their sturdy nests on cliff sides, and they prefer to live in crowded neighborhoods for additional safety from predators.
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