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Art in the Arctic POSTPONED to 2025


Update:The Art in the Arctic Art Show is now Postponed to 2025. 

Arctic, Kanuti and Yukon Flats Refuges had hoped to provide an Art in the Arctic show as great as, or perhaps better than, the year before, but unexpected challenges with the venue unfortunately preclude us from having a successful event on April 18, 2024.

The Show is postponed until Art in the Arctic 2025, as other refuge commitments and an upcoming field season preclude us from postponing again. 

We respect the artists’ time and effort too much (and believe the messages we asked them to interpret too important) to deliver an event that doesn’t meet the high bar we’ve set for Art in the Arctic.
We look forward to celebrating the fish and rivers of the Arctic with you at a later date.

When Friends receives further updates we will notify all.  

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Walk for the Wild 2023, Across Alaska!

Let’s take a moment to celebrate the incredible Refuge Staff and Friends Volunteers that have taken action to help Wildlife Thrive in Alaska! AlaskaTeam16! held 4 LIVE events, drawing 130 participants, which were held in.

We also offered Virtual option for folks to Walk for the Wild wherever they were, along with a link to podcasts on our Refuges to be listened to while walking and folks from throughout the country did just that

We had a dream goal of $16,000… one day! We raised $1704 with help from the PLA Amplifier Fund. Our Team was 15th in the country! Those funds will be deposited into the Friends unrestricted funds for allocation to refuges in response to requests.

Walk for the Wild is a signature event of the NWRS Rebranding Campaign, a multi-year rebranding and activation campaign to invite new generations of Americans to fall in love  with America’s national wildlife refuges and increase private support for the National  Wildlife Refuge System and expand the demographics of Friends members and volunteers. PLAN on participating in 2024! 

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Journey of Landscape and Light with Photographer Taz Tally

Thursday, September 286:30 – 7:30pm
Photographer Taz Tally will share with us his stunning images, videos and stories from 9 seasons of visiting the Brooks Range in fall and winter.  Light refreshments will be provided.
Cosponsored by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges

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Yukon Delta Discovery Trip 2024

Explore the Yukon Delta Refuge with Friends!
Raft, hike and fish with us in 2024

This trip is FULL- Contact us to be added to the waiting list.

Travel with us on the crystal-clear waters of the Kisaralik River to experience being in salmon and bear country, to bounce through riffles, to be pampered by our guides and to fall asleep to river music. This river is scenic and wild with no lodges and river boat traffic is limited by the falls (yes there are falls – we will portage). Habitat is varied from the Kilbuck Mountains at the headwaters to the flat productive lands of the Delta 80 miles downriver from our start. We will learn about this 19-million-acre refuge which produces so much of the country’s waterfowl and shorebirds as well as five species of salmon and trophy rainbow. The Kisaralik is a tributary of the Kuskokwim River that along with the Yukon River forms the vast watery world of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. We will have opportunities to hike, bird, photograph and fish.


Float the river with us. PC Frontier River Guides

The river has world class fishing and our guides are all experienced fly-fishing guides but they understand they will need to provide us with a well-rounded experience including hiking and birding. However, for committed fishers, this river is world class. And if anybody ever wanted to learn to fly fish – these are your guys. We will spend a day in Bethel with refuge staff learning about the refuge, its work and the Yupik people of the Delta. There are more than 40 villages on or adjacent to the refuge.

When: July 15 – 23: July 15 in Bethel to meet with refuge staff, tour cultural center; July 16 – 23 (8 days) on the river. We will return to Bethel via jet boat on the 23rd in time for the evening Alaska Airlines jet to Anchorage.

Difficulty: This is one of the few western Alaska rivers with any whitewater at all. We will need to portage the falls and two other rapids are Class II. Our guides are capable of handling this. Mostly it is a lively little river that slows as it hits the flats. To be comfortable on this trip, you must be able to sit in a raft for long periods, climb in and out of rafts and tents, walk over uneven ground, squat, tolerate some wet, windy weather (it’s the Bering Sea out there) and biting insects. The bugs are not bad in most places but you will need a bug jacket. No children.


Class II Golden Gate rapids is just one of the fun features of the Kisaralik. Most of the river is Class I with riffles but there are 4 rapids, one of which we will portage.


Guides: Frontier River Guides. Check their website for more information. Do not be put off by what seems to be an exclusive focus on fishing. I have had long talks with their owner Marty, a former school teacher, and I am confident they will provide us with a diverse trip. Setting up fishing rafts and non-fishing rafts may be one way to ensure everybody’s happy. There will be only two of us per raft with our guide.

Cost: $5600 for the river trip includes a $200 donation to Friends, transportation to the river via float plane and return from the river via river boat, gourmet food, all camping gear except your own sleeping bag and pad, and one guide for every two of us. What’s not included: transportation to Bethel (Anchorage – Bethel about $300); housing and food in Bethel (we might have use of the bunkhouse for the night of the 15th).

Payments and Refund Policy:

  • $1800 is due to Frontier River Guides at the time of booking. This is refundable until February 1.

  • 2nd payment of $1800 due February 1

  • Final payment of $2000 due June 1.

How to book: Email me Poppy Benson with your name and phone number. I will forward the first 8 names on to Frontier River Guides. They will contact you and arrange payment. I expect this trip will quickly sell out but we will maintain a waiting list.

Membership: Required before signing up. You can join here. Not sure if you are current? Ask me and I will check.

Questions? Contact me Poppy Benson (907) 299-0092 for questions about signing up. I have also ran this river twice with my family and it is my favorite of the Yukon Delta Rivers. Contact Frontier River Guides; 877-818-2278 for questions about the trip and gear.

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Membership Meeting: September 15, 2020

Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 5 pm AKDT, virtual only

Take Refuge:

Fire recovery, morels and record visitation define Kenai Refuge’s summer  

Please join us on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 5-6pm (AKDT), for our Friends monthly  meeting with featured guest speakers Kenai Refuge Visitor Services Rangers Matt Conner and Leah Eskelin.

After the 2019 summer of the Swan Lake Fire, Kenai Refuge’s visitor services staff were busy planning for repairing fire damage and accommodating morel hunters in expectation of a big post fire morel flush when Alaska’s 2020 travel mandates changed the game and put their work into overdrive.  Week after week, for 10 weeks straight, 1000s of visitors found their way out of quarantine to the safety of nature on refuge trails and in its campgrounds. Hear about how the Kenai staff responded to new recreational pressures this summer and rose from the ashes of 2019 to tackle the unexpected challenges of this year.  


This meeting was recorded.  View below:


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2019 Tetlin Refuge Discovery Trip July 3 – 7

Join us as we explore Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, experience a small town 4th of July and help this understaffed refuge.    We will combine a canoe trip into Tetlin’s vast birdy system of lakes and rivers to begin signage of the refuge’s first water trail with helping the refuge make Tok’s 4th happen.  

We will meet in Tok on Wednesday the 3rd to help the refuge set up the town’s 4th.  On the 4th we will help staff the refuge booth and lead family games, and take down the booths in the evening.  And Yes!  There will be a parade with a refuge float.  The refuge’s prominent role in Tok’s 4th of July has always been a key part of the refuge’s outreach to the community.  Now that the staff has been reduced to 8, it is a struggle to make this happen.  We can help!

On Friday the 5th, we will launch the refuge canoes on highway accessible Desper Creek to a campsite amidst numerous lakes providing perfect habitat for nesting waterfowl, swans, rusty blackbirds and warblers.  Camping for two nights will give us time to begin work on a long-term Friends project to sign a water trail on Desper and Scotty Creeks.   Some of this will be exploratory going beyond where Friends have gone before to identify routes through the lake systems.  Paddling out Sunday against the slow current of Desper Creek should not take more than three hours putting us back at Tok by early afternoon for our farewells and the drive home.   Desper Creek is a very slow-moving creek suitable for beginners.  We may have to lift canoes over beaver dams depending on the water level.

For more information about the Tetlin Refuge check out their webpage or on Facebook.  You can read about our 2018 trip here

The trip limit is 12 and the minimum age is 18 or 16 with a guardian.  You must be a current Friend to participate but you can join here
Registration is now open and limited to the first 12 applicants.

Canoeing Desper Creek on 2018 Tetlin Discover Trip


  •  Dave Schroyer,; (907) 240-1375.  Dave was raised in Alaska with life long experience canoeing, hunting, birding and exploring all over the state.  He is bear safety qualified and was co-leader of last years Friends trip on Desper Creek.

  • Moira O’Malley,; is a long time Fairbanks resident, teacher and avid canoeist.  She also was on the Friends 2018 trip to Desper Creek and has “fallen in love with Tetlin”.

Cost:  $60 for 4 dinners and 4 breakfasts.  Bring your own lunches and snacks.  Contact the trip leaders if you have dietary restrictions.

Equipment needed:  Your own personal camping gear plus bear spray.  Contact the trip leaders if you don’t have a tent.  Canoes and life jackets will be supplied by the refuge.  If you would rather bring your own let us know.  We will not be portaging other than the possible beaver dam.  Also bring binoculars and fishing gear if desired.  Equipment list will be furnished to participants.

Weather, Bugs and Bears:  Average highs are in the 70s and thunderstorms are possible.  Bring good raingear – jacket and pants, and waterproof knee-high boots.   Gortex fishing waders with wading boots are an option to stay dry and allow walking into lakes and creeks when launching canoes.  Bugs this time of year are not supposed to be as bad as up north but a bug net or bug jacket is a prudent idea.  This is not noted as a “bear-y” area but it is Alaska so please bring your own bear spray and a holster system that will allow you to wear it.

Housing in Tok: The refuge staff is reserving 3 of their cabins for use Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday night if needed.  There is also plenty of tent space at refuge headquarters.  We will be able to use their staff kitchen for meals.

How to sign up:  Trip will be limited to the first 12 to complete the registration, including the $60 fee.  Please fill out the registration form below.  Registration payment options will be presented after the form is completed and submitted.   All participants will be required to fill out a Volunteer Agreement for the Refuge and sign a liability waiver for Friends.

Registration for the Tetlin Refuge Discovery Trip July 3 – 7, 2019 is closed.

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2017 September Membership Meeting

Please join us on Tuesday, September 19, for the Friends membership meeting.
Call in a few minutes before 5pm: (866) 556-2149, code :8169747#

Outreach Update:

Special Presenter: Kendra Bush-St. Louis, environmental educator with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge:

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is a vast refuge teaming with wildlife. It encompasses almost 3.5 million acres with over 6,000 miles of coastlines on almost 2,500 islands and headlands. Each year, staff members, volunteers, youth hires, and community partners come together to accomplish great things in the name of wild places and marine life. Join Refuge Environmental Education Specialist, Kendra Bush-St. Louis, as she shares accomplishments from this summer’s youth engagement, including a one of a kind YCC program, three science and culture camps, and the use of the coolest education platform ever, the R/V Tiglax.

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Kaktovik Polar Bear Conservation Project – Part 2

Part 2: Field report filed by Jaqueline Keating
(Read Part 1 here)

“Don’t walk out to the truck yet, there’s a polar bear under the porch.”

That’s something you don’t get to say to your roommates very often. But when it’s one o’clock in the morning and the local polar bear patrol needs help nudging bears out of people’s backyards, this is a logical conversation to have when one of those bears has moved under the bunkhouse porch (which has to be traversed in order to reach the truck used to assist with said patrol). It was not long before the bear moved to another location and we were able to get into our vehicle and assist with driving laps around the village in an effort to keep bears away from houses. As exciting as this moment was, at the time it felt like just another day in Kaktovik.

(photo by Anita Ritenour, 2015) 

I am incredibly fortunate to have worked with Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Marine Mammal Management staff on the Kaktovik Polar Bear Conservation Project. Thanks to the support of Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, I was able to spend over three weeks on the Arctic Coast assisting with this vital effort. Duties included partaking in daily bear counts, monitoring bear viewing activity on Arctic Refuge waters, meeting with visitors from around the world to share information about the Arctic Refuge and the challenges facing polar bears, teaching about bears in local schools, and working with the Kaktovik Youth Ambassadors in their effort to share their community with tourists.


Early into my stay in Kaktovik, we counted 69 polar bears on a single morning count. While bears and people have coexisted in Kaktovik for a long time, a combination of decreasing sea ice and the availability of whale remains from the subsistence hunting that takes place in the fall has yielded a much higher density of bears near the village in recent years than ever before. Simultaneously, this village with less than 300 residents is suddenly seeing upwards of 1,000 people in a six-week time span to see the infamous polar bear. The physical and social climate could hardly be changing more rapidly.

I will soon be defending my Master’s thesis on human-bear interactions on the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge on Kodiak Island. My time in Kaktovik reinvigorated my passion for my research, and the importance of understanding the inseparable role that people play in wildlife management. In addition to having the privilege to work with so many talented staff and volunteers in the Fish and Wildlife Service, spending time with the local community was truly a gift. Whether it was running up and down village streets with the kids after school, sitting with elders and listening to their stories, or standing with others on the edge of the village watching bears feed across the glassy Arctic waters, it was a joy to experience this community.

I could not be more thankful for Marine Mammal Management and Refuge staff members who have worked so hard to build positive relationships with such a special community. I am honored to have been able to witness and partake in this project. Thanks again to the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges for enabling this partnership and many others like it!

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2016 November Membership Meeting

Please join us on Tuesday, November 15th,  for the Friends membership meeting.
Call in a few minutes before 5pm: (866) 556-2149, code :8169747#
Our presenter will be Katrina Liebich (Mueller), FWS Alaska Fisheries Outreach Coordinator,
presenting: “Fish of Alaska’s Refuges” which will showcase the amazing fish found in Alaska’s Refuges, introduce several FWS Programs working to conserve Alaska’s fish and their habitats (including on and adjacent to Refuge lands), and initiate a conversation about potential opportunities to work together! Several other FWS Fisheries and Habitat staff will be present to meet the group and help answer questions. 

Download presentation videos:

fish passage fail.wmv
fish passage restoration.wmv
Funny River Weir.wmv
streambank Chena.wmv
underwater weir footage.wmv

Shawn Bayless, manager of the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, will also join us to discuss items about Tetlin and to give an update on their lynx research.