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)
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)
Bears walk along Skilak Lake Road on Monday, June 14, 2021 near Skilak Lake, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Bears and dogs don’t mix

The best way to enjoy bear country with pups is by keeping them close.

Bears walk along Skilak Lake Road on Monday, June 14, 2021 near Skilak Lake, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
The author starts the Mount Marathon Race on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Nicole Lawrence)

Tangled Up in Blue: 360 days to go

When I first heard about the Mount Marathon Race after moving to Kenai, I was ignorant to its heavyweight status. I hadn’t explored the state… Continue reading

The author starts the Mount Marathon Race on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Nicole Lawrence)
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)
Kayakers paddle across Kenai Lake on Saturday, June 12, 2021, near Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Kayakers paddle across Kenai Lake on Saturday, June 12, 2021, near Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
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)