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YUKON DELTA: Service and Native corporation partner to protect unique habitat
Alaska Region, June 1, 2005
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This spring the Service and Sea Lion Corporation, a Native corporation, are working together in a unique partnership to protect migratory birds. The corporation owns vitally important nesting areas in Kokechik Bay. Refuge Manager Mike Rearden likes to call Kokechik the "heart" of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. It is important habitat for black brant, tundra swans, eiders, loons and other species that nest and rear young in the rich intertidal zone. In the last few years local people have noticed a precipitous drop in some species of birds while All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) use has skyrocketed. Some of these species are a major component of local residents? subsistence lifestyle, so the corporation approached the Refuge staff for assistance.

In 2004, the corporation made a major effort to educate local residents on the problems caused by ATV's disturbing birds and destroying habitat. A compliance camp was set up at Kokechik Bay to reduce traffic into nesting areas. This year a much larger effort will be possible with the help of a challenge cost share grant from the Service. Service personnel also helped out by providing some training to the folks who will be staffing the camp.

Negotiations are underway to secure a conservation easement so that this critically important habitat can be protected permanently. "Because local people recognized the need and want to be involved in helping correct this situation, I am very confident in our potential for success." said Refuge Manager Mike Rearden. "If people are trying to police themselves, it makes our job much easier."

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov



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