Refuge Notebook

Volunteer campground hosts meet with Refuge Rangers at Hidden Lake Campground. (Photo by Berkley Bedell/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: How campers make good neighbors

There’s just something about dinner roasted over an open fire (maybe a s’more or two for dessert), birds singing and kids playing games that don’t… Continue reading

 

A telephoto lens helps capture this photo of a black bear on the Kenai Peninsula while keeping a safe distance. (Photo by C. Canterbury/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Being aware in bear country

I recently got a call from a friend that is a typical call we receive when living in places like the Kenai Peninsula. Our friends… Continue reading

 

After a few days, the chick is getting stronger and showing promise for a potential successful release. (Photo by Marianne Clark)

Refuge Notebook: Do our feathered friends need help?

For many, summer in Alaska is signified by lupine in full bloom and the bugs coming out in force. The abundance of insects is also… Continue reading

 

Map of wildfire history on the Kenai Peninsula. (From Wildland Fire Science)

Refuge Notebook: Living with fire on Kenai Peninsula

Thinking back to my childhood days in Alaska, I don’t recall wildfires being a regular occurrence. I’ve learned that I was uninformed at that time.… Continue reading

Map of wildfire history on the Kenai Peninsula. (From Wildland Fire Science)
Range (shown in red) of the northern flying squirrel in Alaska. (Source: Alaska Fish and Game)

Refuge Notebook: Myth or mystery — flying squirrels on the Kenai

The northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) is somewhat of an enigma to the Kenai Peninsula. While it has an established home in the Interior and… Continue reading

Range (shown in red) of the northern flying squirrel in Alaska. (Source: Alaska Fish and Game)

Refuge Notebook: Myth or mystery — flying squirrels on the Kenai

The northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) is somewhat of an enigma to the Kenai Peninsula. While it has an established home in the Interior and… Continue reading

A Dytiscidae larva (water tiger) spotted in a pond adjacent to the pipeline corridor within the Kenai Wildlife Refuge in June 2020 (USFWS/Matt Bowser)

Refuge Notebook: The little-known predator of the seasonal pond

Not to be confused with the more noticeable surface whirligig beetles that swim in a circle, predaceous diving beetles will most often be under the water tension.

A Dytiscidae larva (water tiger) spotted in a pond adjacent to the pipeline corridor within the Kenai Wildlife Refuge in June 2020 (USFWS/Matt Bowser)
A young bear grazes on roadside horsetails off Skilak Lake Road. (Colin Canterbury/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Lots to spot this spring on Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Fluffs of shiny black fur, russet red velvety noses, bright yellow mouths open wide. Spring babies will be making an appearance on the Kenai National… Continue reading

A young bear grazes on roadside horsetails off Skilak Lake Road. (Colin Canterbury/USFWS)
Ranger Nick Longobardi recording GoPro footage for Facebook content to bring sights from the refuge into your homes. (Photo by MJ Hendren/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Adaptation as consistency?

This year has been one for the books. Many of us had to change and adapt the way we function in our everyday lives. The… Continue reading

Ranger Nick Longobardi recording GoPro footage for Facebook content to bring sights from the refuge into your homes. (Photo by MJ Hendren/USFWS)
The beauty and expansiveness of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge seen from an unmanned aircraft in the upper Kenai River and Skilak Lake. (Photo by Mark Laker, USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Conserving wild places and wild things

I don’t know about you, but public lands play an important role in my life. They are where I learned to hunt and where we… Continue reading

The beauty and expansiveness of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge seen from an unmanned aircraft in the upper Kenai River and Skilak Lake. (Photo by Mark Laker, USFWS)
Melting ice patch in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. (Photo provided by National Park Service)

Refuge Notebook: Ice patch archaeology

Alaska’s mountains and glaciers are beautiful to observe, and many of us enjoy summertime hikes and backpacking among the peaks. Some hardy individuals even undertake… Continue reading

Melting ice patch in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. (Photo provided by National Park Service)
A snowmachine at rest in front of the Snag Lake public use cabin. (Photo provided by USFWS)

Preparedness is key to staying safe in the backcountry

If you spend any time in the backcountry it’s bound to happen: an ankle sprain halfway into a day hike, the afternoon blowup that unexpectedly… Continue reading

A snowmachine at rest in front of the Snag Lake public use cabin. (Photo provided by USFWS)
Photo provided by USFWS 
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge staff groom Marsh Lake Trail for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Refuge Notebook: When life gives you lemons, make a trail

The cross-country ski trails adjacent to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Center at the top of Ski Hill Road in Soldotna are… Continue reading

Photo provided by USFWS 
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge staff groom Marsh Lake Trail for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Photos courtesy of Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA, and Brenda Konar, University of Alaska Fairbanks 
Blood stars (top left) and leather stars (top right) were less impacted by the disease and are more likely to be seen today. Sunflower sea stars (bottom left), mottled sea stars (lower center, this one showing symptoms of disease) and ochre sea stars (lower right) used to be common, but were most affected by the disease and have become more rare.

Refuge Notebook: The fall of sea stars

Sea stars are a keystone species. As a top predator, they can restructure intertidal communities. For example, by feeding on mussels, they open up limited… Continue reading

Photos courtesy of Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA, and Brenda Konar, University of Alaska Fairbanks 
Blood stars (top left) and leather stars (top right) were less impacted by the disease and are more likely to be seen today. Sunflower sea stars (bottom left), mottled sea stars (lower center, this one showing symptoms of disease) and ochre sea stars (lower right) used to be common, but were most affected by the disease and have become more rare.
A young beaver enjoys a willow branch snack on a pond in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area. (Photo by Colin Canterbury, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Leave it to beavers

I was skiing along a lake in the canoe system on a clear, cold winter day, enjoying the crisp fresh air and the shushing sound… Continue reading

A young beaver enjoys a willow branch snack on a pond in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area. (Photo by Colin Canterbury, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Salt marshes are important food sources for brown bears. As we see an earlier start to the growing season or increased plant growth, bears will likely benefit from them even more. (Photo by Michael Hannam/NPS)

Refuge Notebook: Could bears benefit from changing coastal marshes?

Flying over the Cook Inlet coast, you can look down and see expansive salt marshes where mountain rivers meet the sea in lush green meadows.… Continue reading

Salt marshes are important food sources for brown bears. As we see an earlier start to the growing season or increased plant growth, bears will likely benefit from them even more. (Photo by Michael Hannam/NPS)
Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS 
A rare photograph of a shrew during winter. This shrew was observed above the snow where it had been sneaking out of the subnivean zone for short periods of time, possibly to exploit seeds or suet that had fallen on top of the snow beneath a bird feeder in Soldotna.

Refuge notebook: The hidden subnivean

Alaska summers are fast paced with people, wildlife and plants all in apparent frenzy trying to capitalize on warm temperatures and sunlight. And with good… Continue reading

Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS 
A rare photograph of a shrew during winter. This shrew was observed above the snow where it had been sneaking out of the subnivean zone for short periods of time, possibly to exploit seeds or suet that had fallen on top of the snow beneath a bird feeder in Soldotna.
Predaceous flatworms hide under leaves by day in a spring near Soldotna Airport on Dec. 21, 2017. At night they hunt for other invertebrates. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Life in Kenai Peninsula freshwater springs

I like winter. I really do. The cold and the dark don’t wear on me too much as long as I can get out and… Continue reading

Predaceous flatworms hide under leaves by day in a spring near Soldotna Airport on Dec. 21, 2017. At night they hunt for other invertebrates. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)
Photo by Katrina Liebich/USFWS 
A fish friendly culvert in Alaska.

Refuge Notebook: What’s your number? Mine is 5

Have you ever considered how many salmon streams you cross on your daily drive to work, school or another location you frequent? My number is… Continue reading

Photo by Katrina Liebich/USFWS 
A fish friendly culvert in Alaska.
Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS 
Biological intern Annaleese Rasanen surveys severely burned alpine shrub tundra within the Swan Lake Fire burn July 27, 2020.

Refuge Notebook: A refuge manager’s perspective on 2020

A friend and colleague recently sent me a list of “things to consider” as 2020 drew to a close (all credit to the unidentified source… Continue reading

Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS 
Biological intern Annaleese Rasanen surveys severely burned alpine shrub tundra within the Swan Lake Fire burn July 27, 2020.
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