Refuge Notebook

Sun coming through snow-covered branches with cross-country ski tracks on trail. (Photo by Ashley Lutto/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: It’s more fun than walking

I’m not sure which one of us was more excited about the fresh snow, my ski partner or me. We rushed out the front door… Continue reading

 

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

 

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

 

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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)