Kenai River Cleanup – Do good, have fun and see more of the Kenai Refuge. September 7 – 9. Sportsmen’s Landing, Cooper Landing.
Friends will join Alaska Fly Fishers in doing an end of season clean-up of Sportsmen Landing, and downstream beaches.
Event begins Friday evening with a potluck and music in the Sportsmen Landing/Russian River Ferry campground. After a continental breakfast Saturday morning, teams will either float the river cleaning beaches or clean around the landing, campgrounds and parking areas. The Kenai Refuge will bring at least one raft to take Friends downriver to clean refuge beaches. That evening the Alaska Fly Fishers will put on a free BBQ for all participants with prizes! Sunday at 10, Friends will sponsor a hike on the Hidden Creek Trail off Skilak Lake Road.
For more information and to sign up, contact Poppy Benson, Outreach chair, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (907) 299-0092. Check out our event co-sponsor’s website.
This promises to be a very fun event that will also help build an alliance with the Fly Fishers, Kenai Watershed Forum and other partners.
Refuge Discovery Trip Report – by Meg Jensen, Friends Member
Over a long Memorial Day Weekend, a 12 member cadre of refuge friends from around Alaska embarked on an exploration of Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. The group included some new friends as well as “old timers.” The group met up at Refuge Headquarters in Tok. On Thursday afternoon, Mary Timm, the retired Tetlin Refuge Educator and her husband Hank, invited us to their home to visit and chat about “all things Tetlin.” Over pizza and salad, they shared their extensive knowledge about the wildlife refuge. Mary and Hank homesteaded in the area years ago, and were a great source of information about Desper Creek, our destination for our canoe trip. A fun evening was shared by all.
Friday morning the group met with Refuge Manager Shawn Bayless and his staff. Over a yummy breakfast, topics covered included: an overview of refuge programs and priorities, including the refuge’s boreal lynx project; priorities and staffing challenges in a declining budget environment; potential opportunities for Friends of Alaska Wildlife Refuges to help the refuge; and the Friends upcoming weekend canoe trip on Desper Creek. A number of ideas were generated for assistance friends could provide, including help with bird banding and river patrols, as well as assistance putting on the May migratory bird festival. A friends refuge visit includes a volunteer project – so after our breakfast get together we helped refuge staff pick up litter on its “Adopt a Mile” mile along the Alaska highway.
After lunch, the group headed out to the Refuge Visitor Center, located on the Alaska highway a few miles from the Canadian border. Cora and Sylvia, two long-time refuge employees who grew up in nearby Northway, shared their extensive knowledge of the refuge and its resources with us. What a wonderful visit we had with these two ladies!
Our home for the night was Deadman Campground, in Tetlin where we spent the evening bird watching and socializing.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday we explored Desper Creek by canoe. This was a great way to immerse ourselves in Tetlin NWR. Our home for two nights was a beautiful camping spot 3 miles in, on a narrow peninsula surrounded by Desper Creek. We set up camp under a raven’s nest, filled with four young birds who looked like the were ready to fledge. What a noisy group they were, especially when Mom or Dad brought them food(which happened all hours of the day and night)! The layover day gave us time to explore on foot and by canoe the nearby refuge areas.
After a great weekend (including delicious Dutch oven cooking by friends member Dave), we all set off for home. What a wonderful time learning how we may be of assistance to Tetlin NWR, exploring the outdoors in Alaska, and making new friends. I am already looking forward to the next Refuge Discovery Trip, organized by our fun & fearless leader Poppy Benson.
Contact Poppy with your ideas for future trips at email@example.com
Join us as we explore Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge over Memorial Day Weekend, Friday through Monday, (4 days) May 25-28. Tetlin is an undiscovered wilderness yet it is easily accessible from the Alaska highway. Tetlin is birdy, with a vast system of lakes and rivers supporting nesting birds and the most important flyway to central and northern Alaska. Enjoy the height of bird song season while camping, canoeing and exploring this seldom visited country with Friends. Registration is now open and limited to the first 12 applicants.
Friday morning we will meet at 9 am at refuge headquarters in Tok for a meet and greet and light breakfast with refuge staff. We will learn about their challenges and the marvelous resources of this migratory bird corridor. Afterwards we will help them clean up the section of highway the refuge has adopted. Then we will move on to the refuge’s Deadman Lake Campground (pictured below) and set up camp for a night and check out the Hidden Lake Trail and the old Seaton Recreation Area (site of the former Seaton Roadhouse)as time allows. There will be an opportunity for an evening canoe on Deadman Lake to enjoy birds and warm up our canoe skills.
Saturday, we will visit the Tetlin Refuge Border Visitor Station, meet their Native staff, and learn how they share their perspective and culture. We will also visit Seaton Roadhouse site and the trapper cabin if we haven’t already done so. Saturday afternoon, we will launch the refuge canoes on Desper Creek for an easy, three mile paddle to a campsite amidst numerous lakes providing perfect habitat for nesting waterfowl, swans, rusty blackbirds and warblers. Camping for two nights will give us all day Sunday to explore the surrounding lakes. Paddling out Monday against the slow current of Desper Creek should not take more than three hours putting us back at the visitor center 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.
The trip limit is 12 and the minimum age is 16. You must be a current Friend to participate but you can join here.
Poppy Benson, firstname.lastname@example.org; (907) 299-0092. Poppy has had 30 years of experience in Alaska and more than that in canoes. Poppy is Wilderness First Aid certified and has taught canoeing. She is also a Friends Board Member.
Dave Schroyer, email@example.com; (907) 240-1375. Dave was raised in Alaska with life long experience canoeing, hunting, birding and exploring all over the state.
Neither Poppy nor Dave have ever done this trip and both are looking forward to exploring new country and a new refuge with you.
Cost: $60 for 3 dinners and 3 breakfasts in camp plus a welcome coffee and continental breakfast Friday morning. Bring your own lunches and snacks for Friday through Monday. 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 lows for this time of year are near freezing with highs in the high 60s and little rainfall. Bring a sleeping bag good to below freezing, 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. Refuge staff assure us that bugs aren’t that bad especially not this early. None the less Poppy is bringing a bug jacket. This is also not noted as a “bear-y” area but it is the season for bears to be looking for food so please bring your own bear spray and a holster system that will allow you to wear it.
Camping in Tok before or after. The refuge staff has volunteered an empty space on their grounds for Thursday night. Other possibilities include state recreation areas or B & Bs or motels in Tok. Eagle Trail State Recreation Site is about 16 miles west of Tok towards Anchorage and Moon Lake State Recreation Site is 15 miles north of Tok towards Fairbanks.
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 who are not yet signed up as Fish and Wildlife volunteers will be required to fill out a Volunteer Agreement at the Friday meeting. Prior to the trip, all participants will be required to sign a liability waiver which is currently under development.
Please leave your furry friends at home.
Questions about this awesome opportunity to experience the wilds of this refuge in the company of Friends and refuge staff? Please contact Poppy Benson, Outreach Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com; (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.