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2017 April Membership Meeting

Please join us on Tuesday, April 18,  for the Friends membership meeting.
Call in a few minutes before 5pm: (866) 556-2149, code :8169747#

Our presenters will be
  • Tina Moran: BLM Central Yukon Resource Management Plan
  • Greg Risdahl: Izembek Road Issue

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*Members are invited to call in or attend in person at Alaska Maritime. Many refuges are offering the opportunity to attend via teleconferencing, including Anchorage and Yukon Flats- check with the Refuge near you.


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Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Sends Teens to the 2017 Alaska Forum on the Environment

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge submitted a proposal for two teens involved in outreach at the refuge to present at the 2017 Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE), February 12-16, 2017. After being selected and with financial support from AFE partners and assistance from Friends of Alaska Wildlife Refuges, the Kodiak Refuge was able to secure funding for flights and per diem for Kodiak sophomore Nia Pristas and 2016 high school graduate Joshua Barnes to travel to Anchorage and participate in the Forum. Their presentation was about Kodiak Refuge Salmon Camp and Pop-Up Salmon Camp.  To help prepare youth for their presentations, AFE created a weekend of leadership and public speaking development for participating teens from all over Alaska. On Monday on the first day of the conference, Nia and Joshua presented to a packed and enthusiastic audience. They shared information about Kodiak Refuge Salmon Camp including giving a brief salmon lesson, leading a salmon hat craft and they even had the whole audience singing and acting out the Salmon Song. Joshua also had his short film about climate change impact on Kodiak’s natural resources in the AFE film festival.



(The Kodiak Refuge wanted to give a special shout out to Jason Sodergren with Friends of for his prompt assistance!)
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2017 March Membership Meeting

Please join us on Tuesday, March 21,  for the Friends membership meeting.
Call in a few minutes before 5pm: (866) 556-2149, code :8169747#

*Members are invited to call in or attend in person at Alaska Maritime. Many refuges are offering the opportunity to attend via teleconferencing, including Anchorage and Yukon Flats- check with the Refuge near you.

Our presenters will be Mitch Ellis (above), Chief of Refuges, Alaska USFWS and Jacqueline Keating, Sociology Master’s Student/ Kodiak Bear-Human Interaction.

Jacqueline Keating: Bear Viewing Management from Kodiak to Kaktovik 

The Friends  partnered with Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to support a volunteer position in Kaktovik at the height of the polar bear viewing season. Last fall, we supported volunteer Jacqueline Keating, who spent three weeks in Kaktovik working with the polar bear conservation project. Jacqueline recently completed her Master’s degree in Sociology at Utah State University, and has spent the last three years conducting social science research on the brown bear viewing program at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Join us to hear about her experiences in Kaktovik, and the challenges and success of bear viewing on national wildlife refuges across the state. 

View or download Jacqueline’s presentation here:

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2017 Art in the Arctic: Event Report



The Second Art in the Arctic took place on Saturday, March 4, 2017, 10-8:30, at Birch Hill Nordic Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. Enjoy photos from this fantastic outreach event, attended by over 200 people. 

The numerous artists included Randall Compton, Kristen Hendricks,
 Iris Sutton, Frank Entsminger, Vladimir Zhikhartsev, Sandy Jamieson, Rita Butteri…and many other inspiring people!






Friends Members Jason Sodergren, Betty Siegel, and David Personius, with Adam Grimm, two-time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest. Adam was our special guest artist for this year’s event. 




David Personius created a 3-D version (drake only) of Adam’s 2014 winning design that was auctioned as a fundraiser for our Friends of Alaska Refuges.





The Art in the Arctic included a screening of The Million Dollar Duck, silent and live auctions benefiting the Friends, sale of collectible Duck Stamps and posters signed by Adam Grimm, and wine and cheese, donated by the National Wildlife Refuge Association.  The event was sponsored by Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, Ducks Unlimited, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, with support from the USFWS.










 
 
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Kanuti’s Annual Winter Celebration, Community Dinner & Outreach Event

Kanuti’s Annual Winter Celebration, held recently in Allakaket, AK, was attended by over 60 people from Allakaket and Alatna and was once again a hit with kids and adults alike. This year, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve helped support the effort. Marcy Okada, the Subsistence Coordinator for Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, and Maria Berger, the Lead Education Specialist (NPS) at the Fairbanks, Alaska Public Lands Information Center, attended the event and provided a well-received after-dinner presentation about Gates and NPS, and a craft table that was very popular with the youth.

Kanuti truly enjoyed partnering with NPS during this event, and very much appreciated the support NPS provided. The community seemed to greatly enjoy being able to learn so much in one stop. UAF representatives were also at the School during the evening event, providing excellent information about their programs and a table of information and free items. The community had a full night of fun! Of course, one of the most enjoyed parts of the evening, was the Taco dinner, provided by Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and fully prepared by Friends Volunteer Sarah Matthews, who worked hard during the entire event to make sure everything we needed was taken care of – thank you Sarah for your hard work making a wonderful dinner for so many! And thank you to UAF for providing a great dessert! In the spirit of doing more with less, working together can fill in gaps while also strengthening ties. Kanuti looks forward to continuing to work with partners and the communities of Allakaket and Alatna in the future.





(Report filed by: USFWS)

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Sister Refuges: Yukon Flats, Alaska & San Pablo Bay, California

At first glance, an urban national wildlife refuge on the coast of California and a remote refuge in the interior of Alaska don’t seem to have much in common. Take a closer look and the connections are clear and important. The striking and regal canvasback is the largest diving duck in North America. It’s also the primary species that connects Yukon Flats Refuge in Alaska to San Pablo Bay Refuge in California – both physically and through each Refuge’s establishing legislation. In the 1950s and 60s, biologists banded thousands of ducks on what is now the Yukon Flats Refuge. Of these banded ducks, 313 canvasbacks were recovered – and 89 of those banded canvasbacks were returned from the San Francisco Bay area.

So when refuge staff at Yukon Flats sought to establish a “Sister Refuge” relationship with a Lower 48 Refuge – a relationship based on a shared resource – they followed the canvasbacks to San Pablo Bay Refuge in San Francisco’s North Bay. This pairing of refuges provides a tangible opportunity to educate residents in the Bay Area and the Yukon River Basin about how wildlife refuges function together as a national network of lands despite their apparent differences and the great distance that separates them.

Last week marked the official start to the Sister Refuge partnership between Yukon Flats and San Pablo Bay Refuges. Three Yukon Flats Refuge employees – Nathan Hawkaluk, deputy refuge manager; Heather Bartlett, wildlife refuge specialist; and Julie Mahler, refuge information technician – migrated to the canvasbacks’ wintering habitats in the North Bay of San Francisco. The goal of this visit was simple: to reach a new audience, and in doing so, get more people to recognize that Yukon Flats Refuge exists. Although a seemingly basic message, most people are unaware of this hidden and yet vitally important conservation gem in Alaska.

Nathan, Heather and Julie took the first step towards this simple goal by presenting to Bay Area classrooms; refuge staff and Friends group members; and attendees of the 21st Annual San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival. The focus of these presentations was to demonstrate how integral Yukon Flats Refuge is for feeding the waterfowl flyways as well as sustaining the residents who subsist on the refuge’s resources.


Julie, who has spent her entire life within the Yukon Flats basin, captivated audiences young and old with stories about raising her family while living off the abundant, but challenging, resources in the wilds of Alaska.  Bay Area residents could only imagine the isolation and self-reliance that are the reality of living in such a remote place. A home without electricity, running water, a grocery store, or a gas station – not to mention the nearest neighbor a 3-day boat ride away! Julie brought examples of her homemade handicrafts to demonstrate her and her family’s reliance on the Yukon Flats resources: a hat made of lynx fur, boots sewn from caribou and moose hides, and mittens she lined with beaver fur.

Through the stories of Julie’s personal experiences and connections with the land, as well as the information about Yukon Flats Refuge presented by Nathan and Heather, Bay Area residents gained a better understanding about this treasured place in the heart of Alaska.  These stories revealed and confirmed that even today in modern America, wild and unaltered landscapes still remain for the American public to enjoy. This is the legacy of the Yukon Flats today – and tomorrow.



Report filed by:
Heather Bartlett, Wildlife Refuge Specialist, Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge





   

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2017 February Membership Meeting

Please join us on Tuesday, February 21,  for the Friends membership meeting.
Call in a few minutes before 5pm: (866) 556-2149, code :8169747#


Our presenter will be Greg Siekaniec, FWS Alaska Regional Director, who will provide us with a Regional Update, followed by a Q&A session.


*Members are invited to call in or attend in person at Alaska Maritime. Many refuges are offering the opportunity to attend via teleconferencing, including Anchorage and Yukon Flats- check with the Refuge near you.
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Artist in Residence at Alaska Maritime NWR

The Voices of the Wilderness artist residency is a unique opportunity.  It is modeled after traditional residencies in the national parks…with a twist.  Instead of staying at a remote wilderness cabin, our participating artists are paired with a wilderness specialist and actively engaged in stewardship projects, such as research, monitoring, and education. The idea is to give artists a sense of the stewardship behind America’s public lands, fostering an artistic exploration of these natural and cultural treasures. The hoped-for result is artwork that communicates something of the meaning of these lands.  (photo: Chugach & Tongass National Forests, Western Arctic National Parklands)


Residencies open to: 
Art professionals in all media – visual (two and three dimensional, photographers, sculptors,painters), audio (musicians, singers,  composers), film (video/filmmakers), and writers (poets, fiction, essays, storytellers).

Residency period: Residency dates vary, but typically they are hosted June through September, lasting 7-9 days.

Coordinator contact: Barbara Lydon at (907) 754-2318, email: blydon@fs.fed.us

Artist-In-Residence Program Details:

Displaying Sponsored by the US Forest Service, National Park Service & US Fish & Wildlife Service

In the summer of 2017, artists will be invited to participate in our residencies, each opportunity completely different. The purpose is to share with the community artwork that conveys the inspirational and other values of wilderness.


  • Each artist will be provided the same safety training as other volunteers (may include aviation and boat safety, kayak safety, use of radios and satellite phones, review of Job Hazard Analyses, etc.).  The hosting federal agency will provide transportation to and from the field, camping and field gear, and in many cases, food as well.
  • Travel to and from Alaska is the artist’s responsibility.  Participants should plan to arrive in Alaska at least one full day prior to a residency to ensure enough time for safety training. Return travel should be planned for a couple days after a residency, as weather sometimes delays the return from the field.  Artists are also responsible for their personal gear, including art supplies

  • As an artist-in-residence, you will experience the wilderness like few others. Traveling alongside a ranger, you might kayak the calm fiords and camp on glacier-carved shores. There will be plenty of time to sit back in your camp chair and absorb the crackling ice bergs and roaring waterfalls. From the water, you might see a bear foraging among intertidal mussels, or seals hauled-out on the ice. On remote beaches, your steps will mingle with the tracks of wolves, bears, birds, maybe even a mink. The wilderness soundscape will embrace you with the screeches of eagles or the songs of whales. Along the way, you’ll get a peek at what it’s like to care for the land by sharing time with a ranger

  • As a volunteer, each artist will assist with some basic ranger duties, which may include boarding a tour boat to provide education, participating in research projects, such as seal counts or climate change studies, walking a beach to remove litter, or other generally light duties. However, an emphasis for the artist will be experiencing the wilderness and exploring how to communicate its inspirational qualities through their artwork.
Displaying
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Friends say “Goodbye” to Kristen and “Hello” to Helen


Congratulations to
 Kristen Gilbert on her new assignment- Kristen was offered and has accepted a position at USFWS Headquarters in Washington, DC. She is the new Chief for the Branch of Communications in Visitor Services. Kristen will take both field and regional experience to this position which is a huge asset.

Kristen is known for her regional work in AK as the Youth, Volunteers, Outreach, Urban, Friends Coordinator, Financial Assistance Warrior, and Techno Geek. Prior to coming to Alaska, she worked at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge complex in southern Colorado and at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, WY. Kristen has been recognized nationally for her leadership roles in digital communication and outreach and has been a member and/or filled a leadership position on several national teams. She has also been a key leader for the NWRS Communications Strategy and Branding Strategy. 

Kristen, your leadership and guidance to the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges has been invaluable.  You will be extremely missed.  Though you have moved onward, you are a Friend Forever!


Welcome Helen Strackeljahn, the new Youth, Volunteers, Urban, Friends Coordinator for Alaska U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, tentative start date of January 19, 2017.

Helen comes to us from the NPS and is presently an education specialist at the Anchorage Alaska Public Lands Information Center (AAPLIC). Currently, Helen manages the education, outreach and Volunteer in the Parks program and has written and received numerous grants for youth programs in the State. A few of her recent achievements include forming a partnership with the 21st Century Afterschool Programs which helped the NPS offer conservation education programs at Title 1 schools in Anchorage, developing an MOU with the King Career Center which offered overnight and day camp learning experiences for Anchorage youth, introducing high schoolers to volunteerism, YCC, and SCA programs, as well as managing and training hundreds volunteers and interns. Prior to her AAPLIC assignment, Helen worked at Carlsbad Caverns NP, Glacier Bay NP, Everglades NP and Big Cypress National Preserve.

We look forward to working closely with Helen, on all things Refuge!
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Friends Volunteer in Allakaket (Kanuti)





Education Specialist Allyssa Morris and Friends of Alaska Refuges Volunteer Jeff Walters visited the Allakaket school in mid-December where they presented programs to pre-k to 12th
grade classrooms about mustelids, which are mammals that belong to the weasel family. Students learned about behavior, diet, and movement patterns of weasels such as the wolverine, marten, ermine, and river otter. Students also played games that allowed them to behave like a weasel and use their sense of smell to find food caches hidden around the classroom.

Learning can be fun!




(photos: USFWS)

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