Refuges in the Time of Covid-19; Update

Uncertainty is still the norm for Alaska Refuges and Friends but here are some things we know. 

For Visitors

  • Refuge lands – OPEN to public use as they have been throughout the pandemic.
  • Trails, public use cabins and campgrounds – OPEN except for Skyline and Lower Kenai River Trail on the Kenai Refuge due to fire damage.
  • Visitor Centers, events and programs – CLOSED.  Do not expect openings until perhaps July.

Unless you have your own float plane, getting to the more remote refuges is still problematic.  Over 120 villages and tribes have adopted regulations and resolutions limiting access to their villages and lands.  It is not clear how many charter operators will be working.  Your best bet for getting out are the refuges you can drive to like Kenai and Tetlin.  Please contact the refuge you wish to visit for more specific information. 

For Refuges

  • Offices – CLOSED with staff working from home but expect a gradual opening later in the month.
  • Field projects- MANY CANCELED.  A multitude of factors have doomed this field season on many refuges including state and village travel restrictions, difficulty of meeting CDC guidelines in a field camp setting and quarantine requirements for out of state crews and more. 
  • Youth Programs – MANY CANCELED.  YCC and Native Stewardship camps have been canceled on many refuges but are still on the books for camps scheduled for late summer.
  • Law Enforcement – ON THE JOB

Refuges are taking a cautionary approach to protect staff and communities.  Canceled field work will in some cases interrupt a decade or more of continuous data needed to spot trends and trouble spots, put field crews out of work, and deprive decision makers of needed information.  Loss of youth programs will break an important connection between refuges and communities.

For Friends

Projects – CANCELLED at least through the end of June.

In this time when we cannot physically help refuges as volunteers, we can still advocate, learn more about refuges and above all enjoy and experience our National Wildlife Refuges.