Refuge Notebook

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

 

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

 

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

 

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.
A Northern Hawk Owl clutching a red-backed vole near Watson Lake between Sterling and Cooper Landing, Alaska on Nov. 30, 2020. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS)

Northern Hawk Owls frequent Swan Lake Fire burn

In a gliding dive it swooped down from atop an aspen and disappeared, plunging into the fresh snow behind a stand of willows. I hunkered… Continue reading

A Northern Hawk Owl clutching a red-backed vole near Watson Lake between Sterling and Cooper Landing, Alaska on Nov. 30, 2020. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS)
Wyatt, at age 4, helping dad harvest crawfish at White River NWR in Arkansas. (Photo by Matt Conner/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Crawfish to Christmas trees

My rubber knee boots provided little traction as I slowly slid down the mucky side of the bank toward the muddied water. The soft mud… Continue reading

Wyatt, at age 4, helping dad harvest crawfish at White River NWR in Arkansas. (Photo by Matt Conner/USFWS)
Silver salmon swim in Sucker Creek on Sept. 18, 2020. Surface streams on the Kenai Peninsula and fish in them have far less arsenic in them than in some well water in the area. (Photo by Matt Bowser/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Arsenic in murder and nature

Arsenic, though often difficult to detect, is hard to ignore. As the 20th most common element in the Earth’s crust, arsenic occurs naturally in volcanic… Continue reading

Silver salmon swim in Sucker Creek on Sept. 18, 2020. Surface streams on the Kenai Peninsula and fish in them have far less arsenic in them than in some well water in the area. (Photo by Matt Bowser/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Photo by J. Pfeiffenberger/NPS 
Visitors enjoy bear viewing in the saltmarsh at Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Park.

Refuge Notebook: Visitors to Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks rely on Kenai Peninsula services

Two national park and preserve areas, Lake Clark and Katmai, located just across Cook Inlet from the Kenai Peninsula, offer some of Alaska’s most spectacular… Continue reading

Photo by J. Pfeiffenberger/NPS 
Visitors enjoy bear viewing in the saltmarsh at Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Park.
A snowshoe hare in its white winter coat. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: The verge of winter

As the daylight hours seem to slip away, the temperatures are slowly getting lower and the silky flowing waters of rivers, lakes and streams begin… Continue reading

A snowshoe hare in its white winter coat. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Basic Incident Command System organization chart. The ICS system has been used for many different types of incidents since its inception. (Chart from Federal Emergency Management Agency)

Refuge Notebook: Incident Command System adapts to record-setting wildfires

The August Complex Fire of 2020 on the Mendocino National Forest in northern California is officially the state’s largest wildfire in history. At over 1,000,000… Continue reading

Basic Incident Command System organization chart. The ICS system has been used for many different types of incidents since its inception. (Chart from Federal Emergency Management Agency)
The view looking north toward the pass from just above Juneau Lake. (Photo by Jack Carroll/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Finding refuge in the forest

As a park ranger for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, I get to spend a lot of time on the refuge’s trails and in the… Continue reading

The view looking north toward the pass from just above Juneau Lake. (Photo by Jack Carroll/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Eivin Kilcher with his children and their flotsam treasures on Ushagat Island in August 2020. (Photo by Eve Kilcher)

Refuge Notebook: Flotsam ‘treasure’ harbors wealth of wildlife knowledge

This August, Eivin Kilcher was beachcombing on Ushagat Island when he saw something unusual. “I was thinking, whoa, that looks like a massive-something-important.” He and… Continue reading

Eivin Kilcher with his children and their flotsam treasures on Ushagat Island in August 2020. (Photo by Eve Kilcher)
Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge 
Kasey Renfro and Seth Payment show off their tier rock wall on Skyline Trail.

Refuge Notebook: Skyline gets much-needed upgrades after the fire

Skyline Trail was the top priority for getting trail work done and getting the trail reopened for the public to enjoy. Skyline is arguably our… Continue reading

Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge 
Kasey Renfro and Seth Payment show off their tier rock wall on Skyline Trail.
A long, white strip of soft, white feathers running down the back gives the downy woodpecker its name. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS.

Refuge Notebook: The smallest woodpecker

On a recent sortie looking for grouse in the spruce forest of the northern Kenai Peninsula, I heard what sounded to me like a squeaky… Continue reading

A long, white strip of soft, white feathers running down the back gives the downy woodpecker its name. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS.
Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife RefugeAndrew Berg outside his ҈omesteadӠcabin, which stood originally on Tustumena Lake and now stands at the headquarters of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge Notebook: If these walls could talk

Big game guide Berg led remarkable life

Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife RefugeAndrew Berg outside his ҈omesteadӠcabin, which stood originally on Tustumena Lake and now stands at the headquarters of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge                                 Snowshoe hare pellet counts.

Refuge Notebook: Snowshoe hare population is on rise

Hare cycle is key to boreal forest

Provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge                                 Snowshoe hare pellet counts.
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

Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge                                 A promo screen for the app “Agents of Discovery.”
Refuge Notebook: Kenai birches came from Asia

Refuge Notebook: Kenai birches came from Asia

Evidence still needed to show what Kenai birch conclusively is

Refuge Notebook: Kenai birches came from Asia
Refuge Notebook: Mosquito serves as unofficial Alaska state bird

Refuge Notebook: Mosquito serves as unofficial Alaska state bird

Insect makes life in backcountry tough

Refuge Notebook: Mosquito serves as unofficial Alaska state bird
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