Refuge Notebook

Refuge Notebook: Wildfire in Kenai Mountains tundra

Late last summer, as I waited in a line of traffic on the Sterling Highway to get through the Swan Lake Fire, smoke rose from… Continue reading

 

Refuge notebook: Wintering sparrows find their way to Kenai

A recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change highlighted some work by Dr. Kyle Horton and his colleagues, who figured out how to… Continue reading

 

Refuge Notebook: Exploring agriculture of the Kenai, 1897-1898

On June 8, 1897, Dr. Walter H. Evans of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Benton Killin, a retired lawyer and regent of the Oregon… Continue reading

 

Refuge Notebook: Tales of a wildlife biologist

In 1975, as a freshman in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin, I was required to take a weekly no-credit orientation seminar during my… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: Stories of refuge’s past and present

It is the time of year for reflection, where we look back at the year and express gratitude for the many good things that happened,… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: The Refuge Notebook passes millennium milestone

“Welcome to Refuge Notebook. This is day one, page one of a new weekly column devoted to life and happenings on the Kenai National Wildlife… Continue reading

An American red squirrel eating white spruce seeds. (Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS)

Refuge notebook: Squirrels are incredible

I recently took a family vacation to my home state of Minnesota to visit family and friends. We arrived in time to help rake up… Continue reading

An American red squirrel eating white spruce seeds. (Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS)

Refuge notebook: Taking the wild out of wildlife

I find this a little depressing. A 2018 study published by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that by weight, 70% of all birds on… Continue reading

Graduate student Sue Ives used this portable acrylic chamber with an infrared gas analyzer to measure carbon flow in a peatland on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo provided by the refuge)

Refuge notebook: Healthy peatlands store carbon and help salmon

After this last summer’s lightning, fires and long drought, it should be obvious that our local climate is becoming warmer and drier than longtime residents… Continue reading

Graduate student Sue Ives used this portable acrylic chamber with an infrared gas analyzer to measure carbon flow in a peatland on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo provided by the refuge)
A brave volunteer dressed up in a bat costume to help peers visualize the anatomy of a bat resulted in an unusual question. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge notebook: No silly questions

“Why don’t bats get dizzy from hanging upside down?” A second grade student at Tustumena Elementary School posed this excellent question to me. I stood… Continue reading

A brave volunteer dressed up in a bat costume to help peers visualize the anatomy of a bat resulted in an unusual question. (Photo provided by Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
This adult male Bobolink was singing and displaying in a distant field near Homer, Alaska. With the aid of a 500mm lens, astute birders documented the first occurrence of this species on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Sarah Dzielski)

Refuge Notebook: The Future of the Bobolink

June 23, 2019 started as almost every other day this summer. Hot, dry weather dominated from Hope to Seldovia. It was, however, unique in the… Continue reading

This adult male Bobolink was singing and displaying in a distant field near Homer, Alaska. With the aid of a 500mm lens, astute birders documented the first occurrence of this species on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Sarah Dzielski)

Refuge notebook: Kenai refuge cabins are again open for business

As a relatively new parent, my appreciation of the proverb that begins with, “It takes a village,” seems to grow with each passing day. This… Continue reading

Refuge notebook: New fall colors include hummingbirds

In a day and age where social media seems to dominate and not always for the best reasons, I recently had the most positive outcome… Continue reading

Refuge notebook: More elodea found on Kenai refuge

When we first found elodea on the Kenai Peninsula seven years ago, partners in the Kenai Peninsula Cooperative Weed Management Area didn’t really have any… Continue reading

Refuge notebook: The porcupine — an underappreciated creature

Sauntering my way, the animal halted and gazed in my direction. It appeared uncertain about my status. Was I a threat? Or, was I anything… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: The Swan Lake Fire and wildlife

This summer brought one of the hottest and driest summers ever recorded on the Kenai. Large areas dominated by black spruce, hot temperatures, and dry… Continue reading

Refuge notebook: Why are the birch trees brown?

I was working out Swan Lake Road last month when I noticed that entire stands of birch trees looked odd. The leaves almost appeared to… Continue reading

Refuge notebook: Storks in Poland are example of cultural wildlife conservation

This last month I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Poland with my family. The trip was organized by my father-in-law, Henry, who lived… Continue reading

Refuge notebook: Lightning on the Kenai Peninsula

I’ve been saying “Wow” a lot lately. A week ago, on Aug. 13, 48 lightning discharges occurred within 300 miles of the North Pole! The… Continue reading

Coming into the Country: Ticks

While on a family vacation to Florida this spring we took a short walk through a lush, beautiful forest in Faver-Dykes State Park near Pellicer… Continue reading