We are working with the refuge staff to plan a Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge Discovery Trip for 2018. Stay tuned for details and dates as they become available!
Tetlin is a wild, rich land of rivers and lakes, caribou, wolves and lynx, and is a principle flyway for migratory birds. Some of the best lynx research in the world is being conducted there. This Refuge showcases it’s rich cultural heritage at their border visitor center anchored by two Native cultural teachers from the Native village of Northway. Possibilities for this exciting trip include:
A weekend with camping at a refuge campground, a sit down with refuge management and or biologist on refuge issues and opportunities, a visit to their visitor center and cultural teachers and a one day canoe trip on a lake or river.
A 3 – 4 day trip that would have all of the above but instead of the one day trip, a longer multi-night canoe or raft trip on the Tanana River through the refuge.
A short volunteer project could be incorporated into either trip.
If you are interested in experiencing the wilds of this refuge in the company of Friends and refuge staff, please contact Poppy Benson, Outreach Coordinator with your trip and date preferences:email@example.com
For more information about the Tetlin Refuge check out their webpage or on Facebook.
Refuge Discovery Trip Report by Poppy Benson, FANWR Outreach Coordinator and Barb Veeck, Friends Member
The first ever Friends Discovery Trip to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge was a success! Eleven Friends met on a rainy Saturday fall morning with the Kenai Refuge manager Andy Loranger and staff to learn about the unique volunteer opportunities within the Refuge: from front desk, to adopt a trail, to refuge advocacy. This most visited and accessible refuge in Alaska has experienced budget and staff cutbacks. Visitor center manager Leah Eskelin shared a laundry list of volunteer opportunities suitable for locals with an afternoon to spare or Anchoragites who could give a weekend.
The clouds parted just in time for us to drive through golden fall leaves to launch our canoes at the Swan Lake Canoe Route trail head, 20 miles north of Sterling. We paddled across Canoe Lake to set up camp for our evening activities. Lots of awesome Dutch oven cooking and late night fraternizing around the campfire followed, including Robert Service poems dramatized by Friend member Tom Choate. We were accompanied by two refuge staff who coordinated our volunteer trail clearing.
The next day, we paddled to Waterfall Lake to do some trail clearing and exploration of the lake and its’ lovely island. The calm and clear waters offered a perfect reflection of the beautiful fall colors of the lake.
(click to enlarge photos)
Barb Veeck reports, “As a new member, I felt that I gained awareness of the purpose of the Friends program and enjoyed meeting other members. It was fun to discuss future volunteer and group trip activities such as this one.
Prior to this trip, most of us were only familiar with 1-2 people in the group which hailed from Anchorage, Kenai, Anchor Point, and Homer. By the end of the trip we all felt we had new “Friends” and were already planning our next refuge trip.”
As a Board member and trip organizer, Poppy Benson says, “I felt we met the objectives of familiarizing ourselves with at least part of the vast and wonderful Kenai Refuge and its volunteer opportunities, increasing communication and collaboration with the Refuge, and facilitating and building relationships between Friends. I think refuge familiarization trips should be an annual part of the Friends program. Email me with your ideas for future refuge trips at poppybenson@alaskarefugefriends. This trip was cheap ($20) and easy because participants only needed a weekend and a way to get to Soldotna. Other refuges such as the Arctic Refuge would take more time and money.”
We encourage all of you to get out on a refuge through Friends sponsored trips or volunteer opportunities or with your own family. The Refuges need us and we need them.
Refuge Discovery Trip: Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Canoe Trip September 16 and 17, 2017 (Saturday-Sunday)
Discover the canoe country of the Dave Spencer Wilderness Area within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge during the height of fall color. Canoe, fish, berry pick, listen to loons from your sleeping bag, and enjoy good company.
Meet at Refuge headquarters in Soldotna at 9:00am Saturday, September 16th. Refuge staff will orient participants to refuge issues, resources and volunteer opportunities and we will tour their new (2015) Visitor Center. Carpool to the Swan Lakes Canoe System north of Sterling. Canoe across the lovely Canoe Lake and make a base camp at the far end. Portage to other lakes as time and weather allows. A small volunteer project, as yet to be determined, will be part of this experience. Return to cars about 4 p.m. on Sunday.
This trip is suitable for beginners as we will not be traveling far to the base camp. Those with the desire to see more will be able to portage to other lakes. Trout fishing can be very good in Canoe Lake and all the lakes and lowbush cranberry picking can be excellent right at the campsite.
Trip Leader: Poppy Benson, firstname.lastname@example.org; (907) 299-0092; Poppy has over 30 years of experience in the canoe country, has taught canoeing, and is Wilderness First Aid certified. Poppy serves on the Friends Board as Outreach Coordinator.
Cost: $20 for dinner and Sunday breakfast plus a Welcome Coffee with pastries on Saturday morning. Bring your own lunches for Saturday and Sunday, plus snacks. Indicate on your registration if you have dietary restrictions.
Weather: This Refuge Discovery Trip is a rain or shine event. Fall in the canoe country will be cool and possibly rainy. A communal dry tented area will be provided for cooking, as well as a campfire.
Equipment needed: Please provide your own personal camping gear, including fishing gear and berry pickers if desired. Canoes can be supplied by the Refuge but please bring your own if you have a light one. Contact Poppy if you don’t have a tent or would like to borrow a Refuge canoe. Given the possibility of rainy/cold weather, please bring a 30 degree and below sleeping bag, rain gear – jacket and pants, and waterproof knee high boots. Poppy recommends Gortex fishing waders with wading boots, which allow one to stay dry and to walk into the lake when launching canoes. Please bring them if you have them. A complete equipment list will be furnished to participants after registration.
Please leave your furry friends at home.
How to sign up: Trip will be limited to the first 12 to complete the registration, including paying the $20 fee. Please fill out the registration form below. Registration payment options will be presented after the form is completed and submitted. All participants who are not yet signed up as Fish and Wildlife volunteers will be required to fill out a Volunteer Agreement at the Saturday meeting.
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! “
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).
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.
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!)
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.
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.