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.