Refuge Notebook

A bog lemming travels through a tube that mimics natural tunnels and captures remote videos and genetic samples to identify this species from its small mammal cousins. (Photo provided)

Refuge Notebook: Our little-known glacial relic

When I think about the Pleistocene, my mind naturally wanders to the large charismatic megafauna that dominated this period from 2.58 million to 11,700 years… Continue reading

 

Snowshoers talk with Ranger Leah Eskelin during a December snowshoe walk at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.  (Photo by Catie Shelden)

Refuge Notebook: Take it from the hare, snowshoes are the way to go!

The holidays are behind us, but there is still a whole lot of winter ahead. I love the rush and excitement of the early winter… Continue reading

 

Sunset views of snow-covered Kenai Mountains and the far eastern section of Skilak Lake. (Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Changing winters bring new conservation challenges

Like most everyone here in Southcentral Alaska, much of my leisure time and a good bit of my otherwise normally encumbered time during the last… Continue reading

 

The snowshoelike feet of the lynx makes it well suited for traveling over snow. (Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Snow — good or bad for wildlife? It depends

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and has been since the big storm that arrived a few weeks ago, dumping between 2 and… Continue reading

The snowshoelike feet of the lynx makes it well suited for traveling over snow. (Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS)
Riding out to explore a barrier reef. (Photo by Mark Laker/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: The benefits of being a naturalist

Looking at the 2-plus feet of snow on my deck, I can’t help thinking about my opportunity to visit Fiji this past summer. Since I… Continue reading

Riding out to explore a barrier reef. (Photo by Mark Laker/USFWS)
Forests surrounding the Kenai River. (Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Expect the unexpected

Climate change is changing conservation. We used to set goals and objectives around returning to historical conditions, a time when people’s impact on land, water… Continue reading

Forests surrounding the Kenai River. (Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS)
A great horned owl sits in a tree. (USFWS/Colin Canterbury)

Refuge Notebook: Finding perfection in the imperfect

The new snow brought our refuge manager outside for a morning walk

A great horned owl sits in a tree. (USFWS/Colin Canterbury)
Freshwater invertebrates after processing in a kitchen blender. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)

Invertebrates recover at Miller Creek

Just over a year ago, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game applied the pesticide rotenone to two lakes and a stream in the remote… Continue reading

Freshwater invertebrates after processing in a kitchen blender. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)
Invasive green crab. (Photo by Ryan Munes, USFWS)

Crabby about invasive green crabs

They’re described as one of the biggest threats to Alaska’s marine environment, and you’ve probably never heard of them. This year, they were found in… Continue reading

Invasive green crab. (Photo by Ryan Munes, USFWS)
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Refuge Notebook: Day two, the day my life changed forever

Picture this; you have just flown over 3,000 miles from Anchorage to Washington, D.C. It’s two o’clock in the morning, and you wait an hour… Continue reading

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Time on the canoe system is both beautiful and relaxing. (Photo by Matt Bowser)

Refuge Notebook: From the Boundary Waters to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge — No longer a race across the continent

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a four-part series. “Those who have never seen Superior get an inadequate, even inaccurate, idea by hearing it… Continue reading

Time on the canoe system is both beautiful and relaxing. (Photo by Matt Bowser)
The 17-foot, 45-pound beauty Nate Grinnell built for the expedition. (Photo by Julie Grinnell)

Refuge Notebook: The Boundary Waters to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge — A coyote among humans

May 1, Lachine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I finally found myself standing on a dock on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, above the Lachine Rapids, the traditional… Continue reading

The 17-foot, 45-pound beauty Nate Grinnell built for the expedition. (Photo by Julie Grinnell)
The cedar-built kayak Nate Grinnell built to follow the voyageur's journey. (Photo by Julie Grinnell)

Refuge Notebook: From the Boundary Waters to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge — To build a boat

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a four-part series. Now I have done a fair amount of whitewater kayaking and canoeing, but trying to… Continue reading

The cedar-built kayak Nate Grinnell built to follow the voyageur's journey. (Photo by Julie Grinnell)
This is the artwork, of the voyageurs "Shooting the Rapids," that hung in the author's family cabin that inspired his trip. (Credit: Frances Anne Hopkins / Library and Archives Canada)

Refuge Notebook: From the Boundary Waters to the Kenai refuge: The beginning

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a four-part series. Starting at the western tip of Lake Superior, the Quetico-Superior Country runs along 150 miles… Continue reading

This is the artwork, of the voyageurs "Shooting the Rapids," that hung in the author's family cabin that inspired his trip. (Credit: Frances Anne Hopkins / Library and Archives Canada)
Aerial photo of the Kenai River in Alaska. (Photo by Dave Merz/FWS)

Refuge Notebook: Flying a remote sensing mission on the refuge

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final part of a series the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is doing on the history of remote sensing… Continue reading

Aerial photo of the Kenai River in Alaska. (Photo by Dave Merz/FWS)
The daddy longlegs Nelima paessleri is abundant in Kenai Peninsula forests. It commonly enters crawl spaces in the fall. (Photo by Matt Bowser/UWFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Daddy longlegs of home, garden and mountains

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2005. It is republished with some updates. Fall is the time of year when, like them or… Continue reading

The daddy longlegs Nelima paessleri is abundant in Kenai Peninsula forests. It commonly enters crawl spaces in the fall. (Photo by Matt Bowser/UWFWS)
Wetlands in the Selawik Refuge that were mapped in the USFWS National Wetlands Inventory. (Photo by USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Aerial photography exploration, innovation expands into remote sensing

Editor’s Note: This is the third part of a series the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is doing on the history of remote sensing and aerial… Continue reading

Wetlands in the Selawik Refuge that were mapped in the USFWS National Wetlands Inventory. (Photo by USFWS)
Jaimie Musen and visitors on a Skyline Trail guided hike after a rainstorm. (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Physical therapist, park ranger connects health benefits with outdoor recreation

After camping on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge for a weekend, you return to work Monday feeling mentally recharged and refreshed. Your brain might feel… Continue reading

Jaimie Musen and visitors on a Skyline Trail guided hike after a rainstorm. (Photo courtesy of USFWS)
Denali today, whose height was first calculated by Bradford Washburn at 20,320 feet. (Photo by David Merz)

Refuge Notebook: Bradford Washburn — an early explorer’s use of aerial photography over a century of exploration, science

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a series the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is doing on the history of remote sensing and aerial… Continue reading

Denali today, whose height was first calculated by Bradford Washburn at 20,320 feet. (Photo by David Merz)
Pilot and biologist Dom Watts collects bees at Twin Lakes as part of the refuge's pollinator survey. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: A summer on the refuge — Valuing a wildflower to the value of a system

I’ve never been one to be partial to favorites. But, on an overcast and rain bath morning in mid-July, while walking with one of the… Continue reading

Pilot and biologist Dom Watts collects bees at Twin Lakes as part of the refuge's pollinator survey. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)