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

 

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

 

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 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.
Fireweed in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)

Tangled Up in Blue: Hand Dipped

The Lost Lake Run was a long one. I ran over 15 miles, from Primrose to the Bear Creek Fire Station, with just two granola… Continue reading

Fireweed in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)
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)
A waterfall flows at McCullough Gulch in Colorado on Aug. 5, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak)

Out of the Office: Best-laid plans

The plan was for the family to meet in Colorado to try and summit one of the state’s famous 14ers, or mountains that rise higher… Continue reading

A waterfall flows at McCullough Gulch in Colorado on Aug. 5, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak)
Fireweed blooms along the Skyline Trail on Aug. 13, 2021, on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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

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

Refuge Notebook: When hemlocks burn

By MATT BOWSER For the Clarion When the weather deteriorates in the mountains, I head for those deepest green patches of forest at tree line.… Continue reading

A mountain hemlock burned in the 2019 Swan Lake Fire, pictured June 29, 2021. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)
Hikers look at the Harding Icefield in August 2015 in Kenai Fjords National Park, just outside of Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Tangled Up In Blue: Slowing down

I’m finding myself, more than ever, falling into bouts of anger, and it’s making me mad. Sure, there are everyday things to be upset about.… Continue reading

Hikers look at the Harding Icefield in August 2015 in Kenai Fjords National Park, just outside of Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
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

Meredith Baker Kenai National Wildlife Refuge As a child, being outdoors was a huge part of my life. Some of my favorite memories are those… 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. (USFWS)
Some tanks were breached with explosives and the fuel set on fire, a method of eliminating fuel that was not very successful. (USFWS)

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. (USFWS)
Some tanks were breached with explosives and the fuel set on fire, a method of eliminating fuel that was not very successful. (USFWS)
A banner supporting Olympic swimmer Lydia Jacoby hangs outside of First National Bank Alaska in her hometown of Seward on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Tangled Up In Blue: Go Lydia!

All of Seward was watching with tempered excitement the night of her gold medal swim.

A banner supporting Olympic swimmer Lydia Jacoby hangs outside of First National Bank Alaska in her hometown of Seward on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
The last strand of elodea on the Kenai Peninsula was found during a survey in May 2019. This fragment is brown and brittle, signs of dying from having been treated with herbicide since 2017. (Photo by Matt Bowser/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge).
The last strand of elodea on the Kenai Peninsula was found during a survey in May 2019. This fragment is brown and brittle, signs of dying from having been treated with herbicide since 2017. (Photo by Matt Bowser/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge).

Boaters urged to help stop spread of invasive species

When introduced to new water bodies, aquatic invasive species can disrupt and destroy native fish habitats.

The last strand of elodea on the Kenai Peninsula was found during a survey in May 2019. This fragment is brown and brittle, signs of dying from having been treated with herbicide since 2017. (Photo by Matt Bowser/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge).
The last strand of elodea on the Kenai Peninsula was found during a survey in May 2019. This fragment is brown and brittle, signs of dying from having been treated with herbicide since 2017. (Photo by Matt Bowser/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge).
Hikers negotiate the Harding Icefield Trail in August 2015 in Kenai Fjords National Park just outside of Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Rangers urge caution after emergency incidents on Harding Icefield trail

Before attempting the trail, people should be aware of potential hazards of avalanches, rock slides and wildlife.

Hikers negotiate the Harding Icefield Trail in August 2015 in Kenai Fjords National Park just outside of Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
First view of Lower Fuller Lake and the lower point of Round Mountain. Photo from standing on the bridge. (Photo by Nick Longobardi/USFWS)

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

First view of Lower Fuller Lake and the lower point of Round Mountain. Photo from standing on the bridge. (Photo by Nick Longobardi/USFWS)
The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s July 3 discovery hike was at the Vista Trail. (Photo by Camille Botello)

Wishing y’all well

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be “well” lately. Like, what does that actually mean? Is it realistic for someone to… Continue reading

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s July 3 discovery hike was at the Vista Trail. (Photo by Camille Botello)
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 is 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)
Camille Botello reaches the Skyline summit near Cooper Landing, Alaska with dirty ankles on June 27, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: The view from Skyline

In some ways, the isolation of the pandemic has proved even more harsh for me. I’ve spent the majority of it — actually, this week… Continue reading

Camille Botello reaches the Skyline summit near Cooper Landing, Alaska with dirty ankles on June 27, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)