From weed pulls to gelding feral horses, Friends have been concerned and involved in invasive species on Alaska Refuges. We continue that involvement with Lisa Dlugolecki sharing her results and thoughts from this summer’s field work surveying several northern wildlife Refuges for invasive species. Refuges in northern Alaska have been traditionally spared from invasive species, but the risk of introduction is increasing. This is especially true for Refuges along or downstream from the road systems.Consistent surveying for invasive species has also been challenging in this region because of the large land mass and unavailability of staff resources. From Kanuti Refuge to Tetlin Refuge, Lisa’s team conducted road surveys looking for invasive plants such as white sweet clover. Some findings included finding white sweet clover growing along the Dalton Highway, but finding none growing on the gravel bars in the surrounding waterways. Friends volunteered for many years eradicating white sweet clover along the Dalton in the hopes of preventing its spread downstream into the refuges. Join us on Zoom to hear the latest on what else she discovered and what her thoughts are on the future of invasive species management on northern refuges.
Lisa Dlugolecki is the “North Region Early Detection Rapid Response Project Manager Alaska” for the Fish and Wildlife Service. She is based out of Fairbanks. Lisa has worked across the country in wildlife and habitat management. She began working full time for Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015 in invasive species management and habitat restoration. Before moving to Alaska to continue her work in invasive species management, Lisa worked in Idaho on Endangered Species Act consultations.
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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
It was a wild year! The Department of the Interior (DOI) held the oil and gas leasing sale in the Arctic Refuge and pushed the Kenai Refuge to adopt destructive proposed wildlife and management regulations. However, there is hope on the horizon.
Kenai Regulations The Kenai Refuge submitted to Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) a “skinny version” of the proposed regulations that omitted the baiting of brown bears and the removal of the Refuge trapping regulations. It went up the chain of command in Washington and was signed by the Assistant Secretary. However, pressure from the State of Alaska prevented it from being adopted, and FWS Director Skipwith began a rewrite of the proposal. If such a rewrite were to be published before the inauguration, it would not satisfy legal environmental and management requirements and would be subject to formal challenges. In light of the chaos in Washington and the limited resources at DOI, we are hopeful that there will be no formal action on the proposed regulations and no change to the current Kenai regulations. It is highly unlikely that the Biden administration would disturb the excellent regulations currently in place.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Our motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the lease sale and seismic testing was denied by the Alaska Federal District Court (Read Trustees Press Release Here]. However, the Court issued a very narrow ruling that did not address the merits of our pending lawsuits and does not diminish our chances for ultimate success. The DOI then held the lease sale on January 6, which was a complete bust! No major oil company entered a bid, and only 11 of the 22 tracts received a bid, 9 from the State of Alaska AIDEA and 2 from small bidders. Instead of the $1.8 billion revenue projected in the authorization under the 2017 Tax Act, the sale produced only $14 million, less than 0.1% of the promised windfall. The Arctic Refuge Defense Campaign deserves our heartfelt thanks for their marvelous work in bringing about this great result! The Court did not grant the injunction on the seismic testing because it found no imminent harm because the permit has not been finalized. Bureau of Land Management continues to process the permit for seismic exploration on the Coastal Plain that Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corporation hopes to begin this winter. The Arctic Refuge Defense Campaign (ARDC) continued their highly successful meetings with financial institutions concerning the dangers of Arctic drilling and the financial risks of supporting such efforts. All major US and Canadian banks and dozens of more than 24 major financial institutions will not fund resource development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ARDC has continued their pressure on Chevron Oil and insurance companies to join the major financial institutions in refusing to fund oil development in the arctic.
Izembek National Wildlife Refuge The State of Alaska continued work on its application to FWS to construct a road through the Refuge under the theory that they are entitled to access to inholdings under Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) 1110(b). The State needs a Clean Water Act 404 permit from the Army Corps and will seek other ANILCA temporary permits for site investigation. There are National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements and other ANILCA permitting requirements that apply to this process. It is our understanding that their initial applications to FWS have been rejected as incomplete, and they have until January 22 to resubmit. By then, there will be a new administration that we hope will be able to stop this latest assault on the Izembek Wilderness.
Mulchatna Caribou The latest data indicate a slight improvement in the declining population of Mulchatna caribou herd that ranges over a huge area of Western Alaska including large portions of the Togiak and Yukon Delta Refuges. The State wants to extend its current, unsuccessful predator control activities to federal lands within the refuges. However, this is not consistent with FWS management practices and is unlikely to achieve the State’s hopes of increasing the caribou population. Since the declines in the caribou numbers are most likely due to human predation and smaller impacts of habitat loss and other factors, FWS is working to inform the local subsistence hunters about the problems of overharvest and enlist their support for a moratorium on hunting caribou.