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Fairbanks Art Crowd Loves Refuges – 4th Annual Art in the Arctic

Event report filed by Poppy Benson, Friends Vice President

Art in the Arctic in its 4th year was a big hit once again drawing a younger and diverse crowd of 250 on March 7.  Friends cosponsored this art show showcasing works highlighting the three northern refuges – Arctic, Yukon Flats, and Kanuti.  This year’s theme was “Public Lands – Open to all Americans to Use and Enjoy“.  Various works portrayed hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, river-floating, photography, sightseeing and other uses of public lands.  Eight artists were selected to exhibit in the show which will be up for the entire month at the popular coffee house and art gallery, VENUE, located at 514 – 2nd Avenue Fairbanks, Alaska.  Mediums ranged from wood carvings to oil to photography, fabric art, and large-scale watercolors.  It was a lovely evening with great food, good messaging about the refuge system and high visibility for the three refuges.  Featured artists included Lindsay Carron who has completed two Artist in Residence programs at the Arctic Refuge as well as spent time on the Yukon Delta Refuge.  Special Tee shirts were created for the event – one Art in the Arctic Tee and one – Find Your Refuge Tee.  Both are available for sale online and 10% of the proceeds go to Friends.  

Fairbanks Friend Jeff Walters and Homer Friends Poppy Benson and Frank Cloyd were on hand to greet and orient attendees and recruit for Friends.  Several new members signed up at this event and at the Alaska Bird Conference which was also held in Fairbanks earlier in the week.  At the end of the week, plans were afoot for a face to face meeting of Fairbanks Friends during our April 16 monthly membership meeting.  Contact Poppy Benson, poppyb.ak@gmail.com for more details.

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2019 March Membership Meeting

Please join us on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 5-6pm, for the Friends membership meeting.

In person: Homer (Alaska Maritime) or Soldotna (Kenai NWR) Call in a few minutes before 5pm: (866) 556-2149, code :8169747#

Guest Speaker Presentation: Ray Born– “Yukon Delta NWR – A Complex and Wonderful Place”

Birds fill the skies of the watery vast world of the Yukon Delta. The 19.3 million acre refuge is the country’s most important shorebird nesting area. Add in a million ducks and half a million geese plus 40,000 loons and 100,000 swans and you can see why it is considered one of the world’s largest aggregations of nesting waterbirds. But it isn’t just about birds. The refuge is famous for trophy rainbow and salmon fishing since the Yukon, the Kuskokwim and their tributaries such as the Kisaralik flow through the refuge. Even muskox are found on Nunivak Island. The Delta is also noted for its thriving Native villages where the Yupik language and subsistence culture flourish. Come discover the Delta and learn what Refuge projects we Friends may be able to help with.   DOWNLOAD PRESENTATION

Agenda:

Introductions and Discussion (5 minutes)
  • Introductions: Where do you live? (Poppy)
  • New People: Why did you join the call today?
  • Reminder to please mute yourselves when you aren’t talking
Board Activities/Decisions
  • Refuge Projects and Reports (Betty)
Committee Reports (2-5 minutes each): Volunteer Report – (Betty) Membership/Outreach Events: Upcoming events (Poppy) Advocacy Updates (David, Dave, Mallory)
Speaker/Presentation (30-40 minutes) –
  • Ray Born, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
  • Topic: “Yukon Delta NWR – A Complex and Wonderful Place”
Next Meeting: Tuesday, April 16th, 5-6pm Guest Speaker: John Morton/ Kenai NWR
SIX meetings yearly: January, February, March, April, September, October
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We’re Hiring!

Job Announcement: The Friends of Alaska Wildlife Refuges is seeking to fill a part-time position as a Communications Coordinator to manage and develop content for monthly newsletters, Friends’ website and blog, and social media accounts. The desired candidate will have strong organizational and communication skills; manage time independently, and be able to work with a non-profit board of directors.

Friends Communications Coordinator position:

Approximately 5 hrs. /week, 20 hours/month

Pay Rate: $20/hr.

Main Responsibilities:

  • Soliciting content for all communications routes by working with board, partners, and volunteers to create original material.
  • Finalizing content and layout for monthly electronic newsletter.
  • Maintain/update the Friends website and blog.
  • Maintain and manage Friends social media accounts
  • Work with Friends board to update communications strategy
  • Provide input and help improve communications plan.
  • Attend monthly board meetings

Job Description:

The Communications Coordinator will work with the Friends of Alaska Wildlife Refuges Board with collecting, managing and curating communications content for both monthly newsletters and social media accounts to support the mission of the organization. This position requires the ability to assemble, organize, and develop content relevant to the goals and activities of the Friends organization. This position requires the ability to prioritize efforts and to efficiently manage time independently to accomplish the timely dissemination of information to promote the conservation of natural resources in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. The ideal candidate will have good communication skills, experience with developing written content, working with public outreach efforts, and an understanding of the US Fish & Wildlife Refuge system.

Deadline to apply is NOON, MARCH 11th, 2019.
To apply, please send your cover letter and resume to: info@alaskarefugefriends.org

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2019 February Membership Meeting – Feb. 12

Due to the ongoing possibility of another federal government shutdown, this meeting has been moved up a week (originally scheduled for Feb. 19th)

Please join us on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 5-6pm, for the Friends membership meeting.

In person: Homer (Alaska Maritime) or Soldotna (Kenai NWR)
Call in a few minutes before 5pm: (866) 556-2149, code :8169747# 

Guest Speaker Presentation:
Bill Carter – “A Permafrost Thaw Slump and Its Effect on Selawik River Inconnu (Sheefish) Spawning Recruitment”

In the summer of 2004, a retrogressive permafrost thaw slump (slump, mudslide) began dumping sediment into the Selawik River in northwest Alaska. It’s location above the spawning area of one of two Inconnu populations (Stenodus leucichthys) that share rearing and overwintering habitat in Selawik Lake, Hotham Inlet and Kotzebue Sound was cause for concern for local subsistence users and fisheries managers. The subsequent erosion of material from the slump has deposited more than 365,000 m3 (477,402 yd3) of sediment into the river, and the silt plume could be seen over 145 km (90 mi) downstream. The spawning area, only 40 km (25 mi) downstream, was threatened by heavy sedimentation. A population age structure study to explore the effects of the slump using otolith (ear bone) aging began in 2011, giving us pre-slump age data as the first recruits from the 2004 spawning event wouldn’t return until the age-9 (2014). Age structure data has revealed an interesting population dynamic not only in the Selawik River population but also in its sister population of Inconnu in the Kobuk River that is being used as an experimental control.


Download Bill Carter’s Presentation
Download Bill Carter’s Presentation (widescreen version)

*SIX meetings yearly: January, February, March, April, September, October

Agenda
Introductions and Discussion (5 minutes)

  • Introductions: Where do you live? (Poppy)
  • New People: Why did you join the call today?
  • Reminder to please mute yourselves when you aren’t talking

Board Activities/Decisions

  • Refuge Projects and Reports (Betty)

Committee Reports (2-5 minutes each):
Volunteer Report – (Betty)
Membership/Outreach Events: Upcoming events (Poppy)

  • Refuge Discovery Trip Report out
    • Trips in the Works
    • Art in the Arctic & Alaska Bird Conference
    • Details for all on our EVENTS tab – on website; we’ll send more updates via newsletter
  • Advocacy Updates (David Raskin & Dave Aplin)
    • Arctic Drilling

Speaker/Presentation (30-40 minutes) –

  • Bill Carter, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge
  • Topic: “A Permafrost Thaw Slump and Its Effect on Selawik River Inconnu (Sheefish) Spawning Recruitment”

Next Meeting: Tuesday, March 9th, 5-6pm/ Guest Speaker TBA
SIX meetings yearly: January, February, March, April, September, October

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ACTION ALERT: ATTENTION ANCHORAGE AREA FRIENDS OF ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE (2/9/19)

ACTION ALERT: ATTENTION ANCHORAGE AREA FRIENDS OF ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Take time on Tuesday, February 11th to tell the Bureau of Land Management why the rushed and irredeemably flawed oil and gas leasing process needs to be stopped in its tracks!

The Bureau of Land Management will hold an OPEN HOUSE from 1 pm to 7 pm on Feb 11th at the Dena’ina Center, 600 W. 7th Ave. with information boards and subject matter experts available to provide information and answer questions one-on-one.

At 2 pm and 5 pm BLM will give a PRESENTATION providing an overview of the DEIS. Beginning at 1 pm, individuals wishing to provide PUBLIC TESTIMONY, may do so, with breaks occurring at 2pm and 5pm for the BLM presentation.  The microphone will be available on a FIRST COME FIRST SERVE basis. A court reporter will be available to capture these comments. There will also be a court reporter available if individuals wish to provide their testimony ONE-ON-ONE throughout the public meeting period.  Comment stations with computers will also be available if attendees would like to submit comments ELECTRONICALLY.

If you are unable to attend, you can submit comments on proposed Arctic Refuge leasing alternatives presented by the BLM  at blm.gov/alaska, or by mail to Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program EIS, 222 W. Seventh Ave., Stop #13, Anchorage, Alaska 99513. The deadline for comments was recently extended to March 13th.

YOUR COMMENTS

Be prepared to tell the BLM WHY the lease sale process needs to be stopped. Your comments might include:

  • Your assessment of the value of the Refuge, including its importance as one of America’s last wild places.
  • Your concerns regarding the leasing process. You might include:
    • The Administration’s failed promise to Americans that the permitting would include a robust, scientifically sound review process with public comment and full tribal consultation.
    • The BLM’s disregard for the serious biological, cultural, and climate impacts fossil fuel extraction will have in the rapidly-warming Arctic.
    • The DEIS’s unacceptable deficiencies in current information about the impacts of oil and gas on the Refuge’s irreplaceable ecosystem, wildlife, and the people who depend on those resources
  • Your specific concerns regarding species, ecosystem functions, the potential contributions of greenhouse gases to global climate change, etc.

The Bureau of Land Management’s website includes additional information on the leasing program, including the EIS.



Photo Credit: Peter Mather/Minden Pictures, via Getty

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Discovering Kenai’s Snowbound Cabin: Refuge Discovery Trip Report (Feb. 2019)

by the “Dolly Varden Cabin Gang,” Poppy, Sandy, Ellen, Rose and Tim Snow fell soft and deep as we snowshoed back across Dolly Varden Lake after an awesome Friends’ Discovery Trip to the Kenai Refuge’s Dolly Varden public use cabin.   The February 1 – 3, weekend didn’t turn out quite as planned because the community ice fishing event we were there to help with was canceled because of the shutdown.  However, the cozy cabin was already reserved for Friends, so we weren’t going to waste that opportunity.  Five Friends from Anchorage, Soldotna, Homer and Indiana including intrepid leader Tim Shipman made the trek in.   What did we discover?  Sandy Kerns from Soldotna, said “A hidden lake, snowshoeing abilities, how much weight can we pull in a sled across a frozen lake, babbling water in an open creek, how good food tastes prepared camp style, new friends, and that planning service projects for Alaska Wildlife Refuges makes one feel connected to the land and community.”   Yes, we talked into the night about future fun and good work we can do on the Kenai and other refuges.  Kenai is the drive to refuge for Kenai/Soldotna, Homer, Anchorage and the Valley.  Stay tuned for more Discovery Trips and Volunteer Projects on the Kenai. The Kenai Refuge cabins have opened up the refuge to use in winter.  Many are easily accessible.  All are cute and cozy and make winter activities fun. And we had fun!  Rose Lahti of Anchorage on her very first Friends event said “The best outdoor experiences are with like-minded souls and there are no strangers when it comes to sharing what we enjoy doing, just “friends”.   I look forward to another “friends” activity and the memories I made at Dolly Varden cabin are precious.” 
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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge UPDATE (2/7/19)

The Department of Interior continues its race permit oil and gas leasing on the 1.6 million acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. While 800,000 “nonessential” Federal employees were idled by the recent government shutdown, the Bureau of Land Management continued work to complete the Draft Environmental Statement (DEIS). However the news isn’t all bad as public comment deadline on the DEIS has been extended from February 11th to March 13th.

As part of the public comment period, BLM has launched a rushed round of public meetings. The format of these “open house” meetings (as reported by Alaska Public Media here) includes a slide presentation from the agency and opportunities for the attendees to provide testimony via computers and court reporters, DOES NOT include opportunities a forum for the public to speak out. Meetings have already occurred in Fairbanks, Kaktovik, Utqiagvik, and Fort Yukon.  Meetings are scheduled at Arctic Village (Saturday, Feb. 9), Venetie (Sunday, Feb 10), Anchorage (Monday, February 11), and in Washington DC (Wednesday, Feb 23).  Your attendance and participation in these meetings is important and valuable – in spite of the shortcomings of the meetings’ format and opportunities for public engagement.  More information about these meetings is available here.

If you are unable to attend, you can submit comments on proposed Arctic Refuge leasing alternatives presented by the BLM before March 13th at blm.gov/alaska, or by mail to Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program EIS, 222 W. Seventh Ave., Stop #13, Anchorage, Alaska 99513.

This comment period is the last opportunity for the public to wade in on the BLM’s rushed and highly flawed process. Your comments might include:

  • Your assessment of the value of the Refuge, including its importance as one of America’s last wild places.
  • Your concerns regarding the leasing process. You might include:
    • The Administration’s failed promise to Americans that the permitting would include a robust, scientifically sound review process with public comment and full tribal consultation.
    • The BLM’s disregard for the serious biological, cultural, and climate impacts fossil fuel extraction will have in the rapidly-warming Arctic.
    • The DEIS’s unacceptable deficiencies in current information about the impacts of oil and gas on the Refuge’s irreplaceable ecosystem, wildlife, and the people who depend on those resources
  • Your specific concerns regarding species, ecosystem functions, the potential contributions of greenhouse gases to global climate change, etc.

The Bureau of Land Management’s website includes additional information on the leasing program, including the EIS.

(photo credit: National Geographic)

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Togiak NWR Bird Feeder Building (Nov. 2018)

Thank you and the Friends group for the contribution to the Togiak NWR Bird Feeder Building project this year. We had great fun with the kids and the adults too. Through these community events, we hope to educate people about our hardy winter birds and inspire interest in citizen science projects like Feeder Watch and the Christmas Bird Count. We held the event on the weekend before Thanksgiving and it was well attended.
In the first photo, you can see a handout we made picturing the most common feeder birds in Dillingham and a baggie of birdseed with the Friends and the Fish and Wildlife logos. These were included with each feeder kit. For the littlest kids, we provided a pinecone finger painting project with some creamy peanut butter as the artistic media. Most of the peanut butter ended up on the pinecones as planned to stick the seeds in place.

A creative outlet with some brightly colored paint and tablecloths always help brighten spirits on winter days, as does watching feeder birds from a cozy spot inside a warm house.

Thank you again for your contribution to this event. It was enjoyed by all!

Warm Regards,
Kara Hilwig, Pilot/Biologist
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge
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Public Comment Period for Drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Extended to March 13th

(This article is reshared from ADN, written by Alex DeMarban)

A federal agency criticized for working on the Trump administration’s pro-drilling agenda during the partial government shutdown announced on Wednesday that it would give the public an extra month to comment on a report addressing oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The 700-page draft environmental report is part of the federal government’s effort to hold a lease sale to oil companies in the refuge’s coastal plain, as early as this year, setting the stage for eventual drilling.

Congress ordered lease sales in late 2017.

The Bureau of Land Management made the report available for public review shortly before the five-week shutdown began Dec. 22. The funding lapse forced most people in the agency to stop working, though some agency efforts tied to oil activity continued. Conservation groups and others, unable to reach officials to answer questions, demanded additional opportunities to weigh in on the effort to drill in ANWR.

“We received requests from Alaska communities and tribes as well as non-profit organizations from across the nation asking for additional time and meeting locations,” Joe Balash, assistant secretary of Interior for land and minerals management, said in a prepared statement. “After considering these requests, we have decided to extend the comment period to March 13.”

The original comment period was set to expire Feb. 11.

During the shutdown that ended Friday, BLM postponed public meetings about the report.

The report provides different development scenarios in the refuge’s 1.6-million-acre coastal plain. It proposes making at least 1 million acres available for leasing, offering protections for the environment and prized animals such as caribou.

The meetings are planned for Feb. 4 in Fairbanks at the Carlson Center; Feb. 5 in Kaktovik; Feb. 6 in Utqiagvik at the Iñupiat Heritage Center; Feb. 7 in Fort Yukon; Feb. 9 in Arctic Village; Feb. 10 in Venetie; Feb. 11 in Anchorage at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center; and Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C., at the National Housing Center.

Additional details about the meetings, and updates if necessary, are available at the BLM’s ePlanning webpage for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

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