Refuge Notebook

Photo by Angelica Smith/FWS 
Frannie Nelson collecting ground validation data for her undergraduate thesis in the Caribou Hills.

Refuge Notebook: Spreading my wings and flying into a new field

In 2019, I became a biology intern at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge for the first time! Here I was met with forward-thinking and tradition-challenging… Continue reading

 

Scaly, pale green leaves of a yellow-cedar near Sitka, Alaska. (Photo by M. Goff http://www.sitkanature.org/)

Refuge Notebook: Will yellow cedar move to Kenai Peninsula?

My first job as a field biologist in Alaska was working for the Tongass National Forest. I was stationed in Petersburg, but would be boated… Continue reading

 

A visual picture of profound change in the alpine plant community post-2019 Swan Lake Fire. This picture is from 2021, two years after the fire. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Swan Lake Fire update: How are plant communities doing?

By HEIDI HELLING Kenai National Wildlife Refuge What can we learn from the Swan Lake Fire that burned over 167,000 acres in 2019? Large areas… Continue reading

 

Photo by Kris Inman 
A radio-tagged wolverine moves across the Greater Yellowstone.

Refuge Notebook: Wolverines show how knowledge leads to conservation

As I contemplated a topic for this week’s Refuge Notebook article, I turned to a few of my trusted colleagues, throwing out a few ideas.… Continue reading

Photo by Kris Inman 
A radio-tagged wolverine moves across the Greater Yellowstone.
A Student Conservation Association team builds traditions around a game of Catan in a tent by Funny River. (Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Refuge Notebook: Settlers of Catan in the backcountry

By SANJA ZELEN Kenai National Wildlife Refuge It was 10 miles out in the backcountry, just off the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s Hansen Horse Trail,… Continue reading

A Student Conservation Association team builds traditions around a game of Catan in a tent by Funny River. (Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion 
Fireweed blooms along the Skyline Trail on Aug. 13, 2021, on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.

Refuge Notebook: Alaska ‘Super Bloom’: The beauty of regrowth

By SANJA ZELEN Kenai National Wildlife Refuge It was March 16 of 2019 when I first heard of the ecological phenomenon known as a “super… Continue reading

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion 
Fireweed blooms along the Skyline Trail on Aug. 13, 2021, on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.
A mountain hemlock burned in the 2019 Swan Lake Fire, pictured June 29, 2021. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: When hemlocks burn

When the weather deteriorates in the mountains, I head for those deepest green patches of forest at tree line. These groves of hardy, resilient and… Continue reading

A mountain hemlock burned in the 2019 Swan Lake Fire, pictured June 29, 2021. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)
A group photo of the campers after a digital scavenger hunt in Get Out and Get Dirty Camp. (Photo provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Refuge Notebook: And just like that, I was in full camp mode

As a child, being outdoors was a huge part of my life. Some of my favorite memories are those in nature with the people I… Continue reading

A group photo of the campers after a digital scavenger hunt in Get Out and Get Dirty Camp. (Photo provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Some tanks were breached with explosives and the fuel set on fire, a method of eliminating fuel that was not very successful.

Refuge Notebook: A long-awaited cleanup gets underway on the Aleutians

In the Aleutian Islands, the war brought thousands of soldiers and enormous quantities of equipment and supplies to a remote area.

Some tanks were breached with explosives and the fuel set on fire, a method of eliminating fuel that was not very successful.
Photo by Nick Longobardi/USFWS 
First view of Lower Fuller Lake and the lower point of Round Mountain. Photo from standing on the bridge.

Refuge Notebook: The joy of unexpected rewards on Fuller Lakes Trail

With summer traffic in full force, it took what seemed like an eternity to make it from Fred Meyer back to the Kenai National Wildlife… Continue reading

Photo by Nick Longobardi/USFWS 
First view of Lower Fuller Lake and the lower point of Round Mountain. Photo from standing on the bridge.
Biologist Daneil Rapp reaches way into a burrow to investigate its contents. (Photo by Sarah Youngren/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: The life of a biologist

It’s summer in Alaska when the daylight hours are long and nearly countless wildlife are reproducing. Nearly countless, but not entirely. A crew of biologists… Continue reading

Biologist Daneil Rapp reaches way into a burrow to investigate its contents. (Photo by Sarah Youngren/USFWS)
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

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

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)
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

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