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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

KENAI: Refuge Fun in the Snow all Winter Long

Region 7, April 26, 2013
January's temperatures were cold but allowed for a perfect night to explore on snowshoes and see the stars and full moon from Headquarters' Lake.
January's temperatures were cold but allowed for a perfect night to explore on snowshoes and see the stars and full moon from Headquarters' Lake. - Photo Credit: n/a
Zigzagging down the Keen-Eye trail, participants look for evidence of who has been using the trail and hoping for a sneak peak at a live critter.
Zigzagging down the Keen-Eye trail, participants look for evidence of who has been using the trail and hoping for a sneak peak at a live critter. - Photo Credit: n/a
Zaraphina Tucker enjoys burying herself in the white powder while learning about the insulating properties snow provides small critters like mice, shrews, and voles.
Zaraphina Tucker enjoys burying herself in the white powder while learning about the insulating properties snow provides small critters like mice, shrews, and voles. - Photo Credit: n/a
Various tracks outside the Environmental Education Center show that lots of animals are out and about.
Various tracks outside the Environmental Education Center show that lots of animals are out and about. - Photo Credit: n/a

During Alaska's long winter wonderland season, the Kenai Refuge has various opportunities to connect people of all ages with nature through outdoor recreation. From local community full moon snowshoe walks to the Refuge's annual Winter Family Fun Day participants have enjoyed exploring the trails around the Refuge's headquarters area on snowshoes. Education Specialist, Michelle Ostrowski, facilitated a large majority of these outdoor experiences. Over 500 school children participated in the Refuge's two to three hour snowshoeing field trips (grades 2-6) where students gained a better understanding of how animals adapt to winter in Alaska and the strategies they use to survive. Often seeing snowshoe hares, squirrels, birds or evidence (tracks/scat/browse) of wildlife while on the trails kept participants alert. Most snowshoe groups had a chance to experience the benefits of snowshoes while trying to maneuver in the deeper snow and they checked out the views from Headquarters’ Lake. From Scout groups to special needs groups there was always time for a little snowball fight or time for making snow angels (which is quite a challenge in snowshoes). A hot cocoa warm up usually concluded a lot of these special snowshoe adventures as well. All said and done about 800 participants from first-timers to experienced snowshoers got a good dose of nature and a healthy amount of fitness.

Contact Info: Michelle Ostrowski, 907-260-2839, michelle_ostrowski@fws.gov