Come join us and learn more about refuges and wildlife at our six meetings per year held from 5-6 pm, the 3rd Tuesday of January, February, March, April, September and October and November 2020. We take the summer and holiday months off.
You can join three ways: Join our gatherings in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Soldotna and Homer (see specific locations below), join from your home computer by connecting to our meeting room (details in meeting descriptions), or call in to the teleconference number by phone (details in meeting descriptions).
The program and phone number will be available below no later than the morning of the meeting. Can’t make the meeting time? Our programs are recorded and posted with the meeting descriptions after the meeting. You do not need to be a member.
Every meeting will feature an engaging speaker from one of our Alaska Refuges or who is closely involved with our Refuges.
Membership Meetings & Newsletters Our monthly meet-ups and newsletters provide unique opportunities for us all to listen, learn, and speak up about important and fun happenings on Alaska’s 16 Wildlife Refuges.
We’ll be taking a pause for the summer, so look forward to a July/August Newsletter and set a reminder for 9/21/2021 when we’ll all meet again for our membership meeting!
pc:After a long winter of feeding on tree bark, the North American porcupine (Iluqtaq) is on the search for nutrient rich food sources. In addition to fresh leaves and buds, you may notice chew marks from porcupines on antlers, bones, glued plywood and even paint. What summer meal are you looking forward to? Photo of porcupine eating fresh green leaves by Moosealope FlickrCC/Selawik NWR
If you love gigantic bears, clouds of migrating birds filling the skies, waves of salmon running up the rivers and truly wild conditions — then you will love Izembek Refuge. Patrick Magrath will give you a whirlwind tour of the anthropological history, biodiversity, and significance of Izembek’s magnificent lagoons with their extensive eelgrass meadows. In addition, long time Arctic nesting waterfowl researcher, David Ward, will contribute to this presentation. Most of the world’s population of Pacific Black Brant as well as Steller’s Eiders, Emperor Geese and Cackling Geese visit these lagoons during migration. Located in Southwest Alaska, it is the smallest of the National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska but mighty in terms of sheer numbers of birds and species diversity. It was the first area in the US to be recognized as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention and was designated as a Globally Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.
. Brown Bear at Grant Point, Izembek Refuge, pc Kristine Sowl/USFWS
Patrick Magrath grew up outside the nation’s capital. He would get in trouble for skipping classes to hike in solitude and visit the National Zoo. Where traditional studies were lacking, Patrick found his education being supplemented by nature and museums. He gained a footing in public lands through the conservation corps with the Forest Service in central Idaho in 2013. Since then, he has worked at: 6 National Parks, 2 National Monuments, and 1 other National Forest, all before arriving at Izembek for the Fish & Wildlife Service. His esotericism includes art, wilderness, ruins, and international cuisine. Good wine, good cheese, and a great conversation make for an entertaining night for Patrick and his far better half Kayleigh. Patrick lives in Cold Bay, Alaska headquarters for the Izembek Refuge.
David Ward recently retired as a research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey- Alaska Science Center. During his 33 year career, he led an international research program on the population ecology of arctic-nesting waterfowl and their use of coastal habitats, principally seagrass ecosystems. He has authored numerous papers on the waterfowl and eelgrass habitats of Izembek Refuge.
Pacific Black Brant in Izembek Lagoon, pc Kristine Sowl/USFWS
Wild, Outstanding, and Remarkable: Meet the Seven Wild and Scenic Rivers Flowing on Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges Tuesday, March 16, 2021, 5-6pm (AKDT) Jennifer Reed, Arctic Refuge and FWS Wild and Scenic Rivers Program Lead
Jennifer Reed of the Arctic Refuge will bring you on an unforgettable adventure exploring each of these distinct and thriving waterways. While Alaska’s Refuges TEEM with countless amazing rivers, the rivers Congress deemed superlative and distinct within the Alaska Refuges include: Andreafsky (Yukon Delta); Beaver Creek (Yukon Flats); Ivishak, Sheenjek, and Wind (Arctic Refuge); Nowitna (Nowitna Refuge); and Selawik (Selawik Refuge). Some are great salmon highways; others host more northern species like grayling and sheefish. Some are corridors for vast caribou migrations and all furnish important riparian habitat and travel routes for waterfowl, songbirds, furbearers and all grazing species. People have used them as transportation corridors and food sources for millennia, since they are within the homelands of Alaska’s indigenous peoples. Subsistence users have now been joined by adventurers and fisherfolk seeking solitude and the joy of rivers.
Sheenjek Wild and Scenic River, Arctic Refuge (USFWS/A. Bonogofsky)
Jennifer Reed is the national and regional Fish and Wildlife Service lead for the Wild and Scenic Rivers Program. She has lived between the Alaska Range and the Brooks Range since finishing college and leaving Detroit for her first Alaska job as a Denali Park Ranger. She taught school for 8 years, part of the time on Nelson Island, before developing a federal career focused on connecting people with their public lands. Jennifer confessed that she was not initially a rivers person beginning her love affair with landscape-meets-human as a backpacker. Dog mushing and hiking are more natural to her but she became a boater because of her dedication to relating to the visitors to the Arctic Refuge. Since then she has boated most of the major rivers in the West. Jennifer lives in Fairbanks.
Navy Veteran Chad Brown was homeless and medicated for PTSD when he discovered fly fishing and the healing power of rivers. Brown said that the first tug on his line from his first fish was like a bolt of nature’s electricity bringing him back to life. He founded Soul River, Inc. to share what rivers and fishing had done for him. He pairs vets and inner city kids on “deployments” to wild rivers including several trips to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Amid the grandeur of the Refuge, the vets found purpose as mentors and the youth flourished in this new world of nature, adventure and fishing.
Brown will share with us his story, the success of Soul River and how his mission has grown into protecting the Arctic Refuge and being of service to Native communities. He will tell us about his new non-profit, Love is King, which is dedicated to creating equitable and safe access to the outdoors for people of color.
Chad Brown grew up in Texas hunting and spending time on his grandparents farm. He joined the Navy to get the GI Bill and served in Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Restore Hope Somalia. After the military, he earned a Master of Science in Communications Design and had a successful career as an art director and photographer before his PTSD caught up with him and brought him down. After fishing and rivers and the VA healed him he started Soul River as well as serving as creative director of Chado Communication Design and Soul River Studios. Besides being an avid fly fisherman he is a bow hunter, outdoor adventurer and conservationist.
Arctic Refuge, A Symbol for a Time of Global ChangePlease join us online or by phone Tuesday, January 19, 2021, 5-6pm (AKT), for our Friends monthly meeting with guest speaker, Roger Kaye of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Roger Kaye has done it all – worked the Slope, spent a winter on a trapline, flew his own float and ski planes, hunted, hiked, explored all over Alaska, wrote a book on the Arctic and earned a PhD at University of Alaska Fairbanks. He has spent much of his 41-year career with the Fish & Wildlife Service experiencing, thinking about and advocating for true wilderness, particularly of the Arctic Refuge. On this 60th Anniversary of the Refuge, Roger Kaye will share some of his vast knowledge and take us back to the seven-year struggle to establish the Arctic Refuge. He will explore the similarities with the struggle to defend the Refuge today.
Olaus and Marti Murie, two giants of Alaska conservation and science,
were instrumental in protection of the Arctic through the designation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Arctic Refuge establishment was among the first, unprecedented American conservation initiatives of the 1960s that came about in response to concern over the worsening environmental degradations accompanying the prosperous postwar march of progress. The campaign to establish the Refuge became emblematic of the larger contest between competing views of the appropriate relationship between postwar American society and its rapidly changing environment. Which notion of progress should this landscape represent—that underlying the prevailing rush toward attaining an ever-higher material standard of living, or that underpinning the emerging ecology-based perspective that emphasized sustainability and called for restraint? The question of whether or not to preserve this preeminent wilderness symbolized “the real problem,” as campaign leader Olaus Murie characterized it, “of what the human species is to do with this earth.”
Now again we face a new order of environmental threat, a convergence of global energy and resource scarcity, climate change, and widespread biospheric alterations. And now the Arctic Refuge is at the center of one of the nation’s longest and most contentious environmental debates. The question of oil development verses wilderness preservation here transcends the issue of potential resource impacts within the Refuge’s boundaries and has become symbolically intertwined with these larger, global issues. Again, the Arctic Refuge stands as a national symbol of pivotal questions and decisions Americans face: How does our consumption and material standard of living affect the national and global environments, and what quality of them are we to leave to future generations?
Roger Kaye skipped his college graduation ceremony in 1974 to come to Alaska and work at Camp Denali for famed Alaskan conservationists Cecelia Hunter and Ginny Woods. He started grad school but dropped out to earn enough money working on the Slope to buy his first airplane. Once he met that goal, he took off on a series of Alaska adventures until the money ran out. Then, he started his wildlife career first with ADFG and for 41 years the Fish & Wildlife Service. He has been a planner, refuge pilot, Native liaison and in recent years, the agency’s Alaska wilderness coordinator. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska where he has taught courses on wilderness, environmental psychology, and the Anthropocene. He is the author ofLast Great Wilderness: The Campaign to Establish the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and numerous journal and popular articles related to wilderness. Currently, he is working on a book considering the future of the wildness of Wilderness in the Anthropocene. Roger lives in Fairbanks and works for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Bird Camp! Birds and Biologists on the Canning River
Please join us online or by phone Tuesday, November 17, 2020, 5-6pm (AK), for our Friends monthly meeting with guest speaker, Timothy Knudson of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Come along on a journey to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to explore a remote field research camp on the Arctic Coastal Plain. For more than 40 years, biologists have flown into this distant place to study tundra nesting birds. Hear stories from the Canning River Delta ‘Bird Camp’ first hand from one of Arctic Refuge’s wildlife biologists. Learn about the different types of research carried out on the Canning River. See the preliminary results and catch the latest updates on the future of these projects. Get a glimpse of the ecosystem through the interactions of the lemmings, foxes, and the birds that connect this remote place to YOUR backyard.
What does it take to live and carry out research in this isolated place for nearly two months? What changes have occurred to the tundra nesting bird population since research began at the Canning River Delta more than 40 years ago? How does the range expansion of the red fox into the Coastal Plain impact nesting birds and arctic foxes? Tim will address these questions and more.
Timothy Knudson is the Logistics Coordinator for projects on the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He ran the Canning River Delta Research Camp and was the tundra nesting bird field lead in 2019. Tim has a B.S. in Natural Resources Wildlife and Water Resources Management from the University of Minnesota Crookston and an MS in Zoology from Southern Illinois University. He did his thesis research on seabird ecology with the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Prior to coming to Alaska, Tim worked on the Audubon and Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuges.
This meeting and presentation was recorded. Watch video below:
Please join us on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 5-6pm (AKDT), for our Friends monthly meeting.
Tracking Lynx Across Alaska: What Have We Learned?
Guest Speaker Yukon Flats Refuge Wildlife Biologist Mark Bertram will share with us what they are learning about lynx movement and prey interactions from tracking over 160 lynx captured on four different Alaska Refuges.
Where and how fast will lynx move when the hare population crashes? Are there barriers to movement across the landscape or geographic features that enable movement? What new technologies are being used to monitor lynx movement? Bertram will answer all these questions and share fabulous lynx photos.
Mark Bertram, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1986, has been studying a variety of animals and other resources on the third largest refuge in the nation, the 11 million acreYukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge for the past 27 years. Mark says“The Yukon Flats is an awesome place to work – a 10,000 square mile pristine wetland basin home to thousands of breeding waterfowl and healthy intact predator/prey systems – it’s a biologists dream.” He resides in Fairbanks.
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.
What You Need to Know to Help Save the Kenai Refuge with guest speakers retired Kenai Refuge Supervisory Biologist John Morton, retired Kenai Refuge Ranger/Pilot Rick Johnston and Friends President David Raskin. This panel will explain Kenai’s new proposed rules which would allow brown bear baiting on the Refuge and remove all the Refuge’s ability to regulate trapping as well as some other lesser provisions. You will have a chance to ask questions.
This serious threat to the Refuge, which contradicts prior refuge decisions, prompted this unusual midsummer meeting. Comments on the proposed changes will only be accepted until August 10. There will be no public process other than the comment period. For details about the issues, the Federal Register Notice, the draft Environmental Assessment, talking points, and instructions about submitting comments, please see our Proposed Kenai Regulations post.
This meeting was recorded; view the recording below.
Walsh will tell several stories of how and why the ecosystems of Togiak Refuge are changing and how these changes require a constantly changing approach to management. Fish die-offs, wolf behavior and habitat use changes, and seabird die-offs are some of the unusual events Walsh will delve into.
Dominated by the Ahklun Mountains in the north and the cold waters of Bristol Bay to the south, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge confronts the traveler with a kaleidoscope of landscapes including a rugged coastline featuring the walrus haulout and seabird nesting sites of Cape Pierce, world class rainbow trout and salmon streams, high snowy mountains, more than 500 big (over 25 acres) lakes and sweeping tundra. Change has been occurring to this landscape since the Pleistocene but change used to be noted in centuries. Now changes are evident from year to year. Learn more about the Togiak Refuge here.
Pat Walsh has been Supervisory Fish and Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Togiak National Wildlife Refuge since 2001. He has BS and MS degrees in wildlife ecology and 30 years of experience in leading ecological studies.