The reward of cold weather are the displays of the aurora borealis, like this one taken this fall on the Kenai. (Photo by K. Inman/FWS)

Refuge Notebook: Thankful for winter’s natural wonders — A beautiful disorientation?

There’s a good chance I may be in the minority on this one, but I love winter. Most people I know prefer summer and shoulder… Continue reading

 

Michael proposes to Sarah at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: Falling in love one snowflake at a time

Do you want to know what I’ve been looking forward to the most since moving to Alaska? Snow! I love snow. Driving in it? OK,… Continue reading

 

A brown bear feeds on a salmon. (Photo by C. Canterbury/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Bears, uniquely built to respond to winter

With the new snow and temperatures dipping into the single digits, you might find yourself hunkering down or replacing your summer outdoor gear for winter… Continue reading

 

Ice sits ready to skate at Bottenintnin Lake in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska on Nov. 1, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Tangled Up in Blue: Skipping skating

I was looking forward to ice skating this winter. I had bought a pair of Nordic blades a little too late in the season last… Continue reading

Ice sits ready to skate at Bottenintnin Lake in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska on Nov. 1, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Fall colors, a dog and game in hand make for great outdoor experiences on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: On point this fall

His eyes were fixated on the white spruce before us. We knew what we sought was in there based on his behavior, but no matter… Continue reading

Fall colors, a dog and game in hand make for great outdoor experiences on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS)
The Kenai River curls to Skilak Lake, as seen from the Hideout Trail on July 5, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: Clearing the trail

One of the benefits of growing old is waking up and, despite having done nothing particularly noteworthy the day before, feeling as if you’ve been… Continue reading

The Kenai River curls to Skilak Lake, as seen from the Hideout Trail on July 5, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
A pleasant snow day in Seward, Alaska, on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)

Tangled Up in Blue: Snow day

A wet, sopping blanket of snow covered Seward this morning. Before sunrise, I could see the wisps of white pass my window, stacking onto the… Continue reading

A pleasant snow day in Seward, Alaska, on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)
Student Conservation Association trail crews work on adding trail to Burneyճ Trail in the Skilak Lake Recreation Area. (Photo by Lee Dudak/SCA)

Refuge Notebook: Getting a boost from SCA trail crews

This past summer, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge saw the benefit from four additional trail crews provided by the Student Conservation Association. The SCA crews… Continue reading

Student Conservation Association trail crews work on adding trail to Burneyճ Trail in the Skilak Lake Recreation Area. (Photo by Lee Dudak/SCA)
A moose darts into the forest on Beaver Loop Road in Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Refuge Notebook: Mating systems of moose and caribou

Driving home the other day, my friend and I came across a big bull caribou chasing several cows down Kalifornsky Beach Road. One hundred yards… Continue reading

A moose darts into the forest on Beaver Loop Road in Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Lake sparkles under the sun on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: To everything, there is a season

We don’t really have “seasons” where I’m from. It stays an amicable 75 degrees and sunny pretty much all year, even in January. A temperate… Continue reading

Kenai Lake sparkles under the sun on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
The pedicure in question has seen many miles of hiking and walking since it was first painted on five months ago. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)

Tangled Up in Blue: A perfect pedicure

There is just the smallest sliver of light pink nail polish left on my two big toes. Each time I’ve cut my toenails over the… Continue reading

The pedicure in question has seen many miles of hiking and walking since it was first painted on five months ago. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)
Frannie Nelson collecting ground validation data for her undergraduate thesis in the Caribou Hills. (Photo by Angelica Smith/FWS)

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

Frannie Nelson collecting ground validation data for her undergraduate thesis in the Caribou Hills. (Photo by Angelica Smith/FWS)
Anthony Botello fishes for halibut off the coast of Homer, Alaska, on Sept. 6, 2021. (Camille Botello)

Out of the Office: Fish on!

I was pretty spoiled as a kid. The chest freezer in our garage was almost always stuffed to the brim with real Alaska salmon, and… Continue reading

Anthony Botello fishes for halibut off the coast of Homer, Alaska, on Sept. 6, 2021. (Camille Botello)
Author Kathleen Sorensen (252) and the rest of the field take off from the starting line at the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Tangled Up in Blue: Three halves

I ran my third Kenai River Half Marathon this weekend. I remember sitting in the newsroom at the Peninsula Clarion in 2017 and telling our… Continue reading

Author Kathleen Sorensen (252) and the rest of the field take off from the starting line at the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
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

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

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)
The afternoon sun makes birch leaves glow yellow on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at the Hidden Lake Campground in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near Sterling, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Fall in Alaska is subtle but fabulous

On my mother’s side I come from a long line of New Englanders, the kind of people for whom fall leaf peeping can be something… Continue reading

The afternoon sun makes birch leaves glow yellow on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at the Hidden Lake Campground in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near Sterling, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
A thunderstorm is seen Aug. 3, 2021, in Okanogan County, Washington. (Kathryn Knowlton/submitted photo)

Tangled Up in Blue: Shelter from the storm

I recently learned that the opposite of deja vu is jamais vu, meaning “never seen.” Deja vu is the feeling that you’re experiencing something familiar,… Continue reading

A thunderstorm is seen Aug. 3, 2021, in Okanogan County, Washington. (Kathryn Knowlton/submitted photo)
A radio-tagged wolverine moves across the Greater Yellowstone. (Photo by Kris Inman)

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

A radio-tagged wolverine moves across the Greater Yellowstone. (Photo by Kris Inman)
Michael, Sarah, Pete, Becky, Will and Margaret take a picture in front of Exit Glacier in Seward on Aug. 21.

Out of the Office: Finally feeling at home

My partner’s family came into town recently. While the thought of hosting in-laws would make many people I know fearful of the rest of this… Continue reading

Michael, Sarah, Pete, Becky, Will and Margaret take a picture in front of Exit Glacier in Seward on Aug. 21.