We just returned from our June 2017 week of pulling invasive weed species for the Friends of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. The volunteer work took us from Homer all the way north almost to the Arctic Ocean. It was a great experience and we hope we contributed to keeping invasives from spreading even more.
Monday morning we left Fairbanks early in two vehicles with the full weed pulling crew. A Fish & Wildlife biologist was the agency head for the crew, there was a summer intern working with him, and two other Friends volunteers. This is a typical view of the Dalton Highway or Haul Road. The reason it is called the Haul Road–lots of big trucks bringing stuff up to and down from Prudhoe Bay.
Typical Black Spruce forest- some of these trees are 200 years old! Growing on permafrost tends to make for a hard life and stunted growth.
Made it to the Arctic Circle. We pretty much had 24 hours of daylight the whole time we were up there.
This is what we were looking for– white sweetclover. For about 150 miles of the highway, anywhere a river crossed the road, we pulled the clover we found. We split up into pairs and pulled weeds about 100 yards up from the bridges on both sides. The idea is to not allow the sweetclover to flower and go to seed so the seeds can’t travel down the rivers and invade the refuges. One mature sweetclover plant can produce 350,000 seeds and they are viable for 80+ years.
The crew working a particularly heavily grown-over area.
Our final morning and we headed north out of Coldfoot (the two previous days we worked to the south.) The mountains you can see are the start of the Brooks Range. The views were spectacular, like Sukapak (mountain – below).
Approximately 400 people attended the 2017 Dragonfly Day, hosted by Arctic, Yukon Flats, and Kanuti National Wildlife Refuges. This was a free event at Chena Lakes Recreation Area, open to all ages. Attendees had the opportunity to go on nature walks to catch and identify dragonflies. There were also crafts, educational activities, and more. It was a fun day for the whole family!
Environmental Education Specialist Allyssa Morris says, “Thank you to everyone who came out to Dragonfly Day 2017. Returning families shared that “Dragonfly Day is the best event of the year. Special thanks to SCA Interns Megan, Morgan, Lily, and Angelina who did a superb job finishing last minute tasks and leading the craft stations. Sheila, Tina, and Steve took numerous photos. Morgan and Alfredo for wearing the Puddles costume in the heat- you are both rockstars! UAF grad student Adam for leading the popular aquatic bug station and lastly, to John Hudson and the Friends of Alaska NWRs for supporting this popular event and making it happen. A special thanks to Joe Morris, Friends Volunteer. See you next year at Dragonfly Day 2018! “
Acting Refuge Manager Nathan Hawkaluk, Yukon Flats NWR, reports that the Chalkyitsik Open House was a huge success!
“It was a hot and busy afternoon, but I felt it was very well received by the village residents and especially by all the youngsters that participated in all the arts and crafts projects and the archery shooting.
A huge thank you to our volunteers Mark Ross and Francesca Demgen, whose travel was funded by the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. Your help and involvement was vital to the success of the event. You are both invited next year as well!!”
The Friends also helped cover other event supplies and food for the celebration.
The mission of Salmon Camp is to educate Kodiak’s youth about the natural and cultural systems that define Kodiak’s geography and empower learners to investigate their own connections to this special place through hands-on learning, self-reflection and group discovery. Since 1996, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, in conjunction with Alaska Geographic and the Kodiak community, has sponsored the Kodiak Summer Science and Salmon Camp. Within two years of its inception, Salmon Camp became the largest science-based camp in Alaska. In 2002, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized Salmon Camp as one of its top five environmental education programs in the nation. This camp serves students from kindergarten through 8th grade. The Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges has supported the camp for several years, providing funding for educational experiences.
The camp kicked off in early June with “Fishing Day,” with 125 attendees. Bird TLC from Anchorage was on hand with a live bird demonstration, featuring a merlin and a peregrine falcon. Check out some photos below.
May 20-23, 2017 Selawik National Wildlife Refuge hosted its annual Spring Bird Walks. The Friends sent expert birder George Matz of Homer to Kotzebue to lead several walks.
“Thanks to everyone who ventured out on one of our bird watching events this weekend! We enjoyed looking at birds in their bright breeding colors, visiting with folks, and learning a bit more about the feathered travelers that are flying home to Alaska to nest. Thanks to Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges volunteer George Matz (center of photo above) for being a part of the fun!” -Susan Georgette, Selawik NWR Manager
June 3, 2017 Friends gathered for an encore screening of “The Million Dollar Duck,” with host Adam Grimm, at Morris Thompson Cultural Visitor Center in Fairbanks. Refreshments were served, duck stamps were sold, and fun was had by all!
BELOW: Friends in Action: Sarah Mathews, Joseph Morris, and Adam Grimm (signing duck stamps).
This past May 4-7, the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges co-sponsored the 25th Annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in Homer, Alaska at Alaska Maritime NWR’s Headquarters, Islands & Ocean Visitor Center.
Our Special Guests included Keynote Speaker, J. Drew Lanham and Featured Author, Paul Bannick.
Both Speakers presented a variety of workshops & lectures.
Raymond VanBuskirk (BRANT Tours), Neil Gilbert (2017 Schantz Scholar), and Keynote J. Drew Lanham enjoy a boat trip with Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies
Festival Participants enjoy the “Birders Breakfast,” and learn more about the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges.
Bird TLC of Anchorage presents an up close experience with some feathered friends.
Junior Birders Award Ceremony – check out all these fledgling ornithologists!
David Raskin (Friends President) with Keynote J. Drew Lanham and Marga Raskin (Friends Member)
USFWS Service, working hard throughout the weekend to make sure everyone had a wonderful time at the Festival.
Raymond and BJ bird watching during the Viewing Stations.
Save the Date! May 10-13, 2018!
(Photos courtesy of Lisa Hupp/USFWS and Robbi Mixon/FANWR)
What does it take to grow new birders and public lands users? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with Alaska Geographic aim to figure this out through immersive experiences for youth on and about public lands. In this spirit, a group of 9 young people, accompanied by Helen Strackeljahn of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Eileen Kazura and Reth Duir of Alaska Geographic, attended the 25th Annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival with generous support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The group of current high school and college students from Anchorage, Alaska, were all first time birders when they arrived in Homer for the Shorebird Festival. Over the course of the Festival, they learned how to use binoculars, spent time in kayaks, and discovered their own personal bird story in a workshop with keynote presenter J. Drew Lanham. These activities and more were made possible through a generous grant from the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges.
Throughout the weekend, the group spotted Sandhill Cranes, Western Sandpipers, Greater White-Fronted Geese, and many more migratory species. They also had a number of close-up encounters with Homer’s resident Bald Eagles.
Highlights of the trip included kayaking around Yukon Island, pictured above, which began with entertainment on the water taxi provided by Dave Aplin of World Wildlife Fund, and culminated in a kayak race back to the shore. The group also enjoyed exploring Homer and attending the On the Wing Concert, Birder’s Breakfast and Keynote Speeches.
Many thanks goes to the array of partners and sponsors, who made it possible to connect these urban youth to their Alaska Refuges.
It’s movie night in Fairbanks! Come join the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges for a free screening of the film The Million Dollar Duck.
When: Sat. June 3 Time: 7 – 9 pm Where: The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center, Fairbanks, AK Cost: FREE
This fun and quirky documentary "focuses on the strange and wonderful world of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, the only juried art competition run by the U.S. government. This film explores the eccentric nature of the contestants who enter each year for a chance at wildlife art stardom, while also reflecting upon the history and challenges facing the continued existence of this successful conservation program”
The movie will be introduced by Adam Grimm, a two time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp competition.
Family friendly event, Light refreshments, and signed duck stamp art available for purchase.
*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.
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!)