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SELAWIK: Exploring New Opportunities in the Waring Mountains Wilderness
Alaska Region, October 3, 2005
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In early September, Selawik Refuge staff completed a 5-day exploration of the Selawik Wilderness on the Refuge’s north edge. Brian Anderson, Regional Wilderness Coordinator, accompanied Refuge staff.  The purpose of the trip was to assess the feasibility of accessing the wilderness by foot for research and management purposes, and begin a dialogue with the National Park Service (NPS) about managing wilderness. 

The Selawik Wilderness encompasses 240,000 acres in the Waring Mountains, a small range of 1,000-2,000 foot peaks dividing the Selawik and the Kobuk river valleys.  It adjoins the Kobuk Valley Wilderness in Kobuk Valley National Park.  Helicopters are typically used by NPS and FWS staff to reach this area because fixed-wing access is poor and boat access is not possible.  After a meeting on the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes with Western Arctic Parklands Superintendent, and the Park’s Wilderness Coordinator,  Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) staff chose a route following a birch and spruce-covered ridge to the treeline, and then to the crest of the Waring Mountains.  With clear weather, views from the top were impressive.  To the north, landmarks such as the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, Kobuk River, Onion Portage, and the Brooks Range were visible.  To the south the view encompassed long ridges to the lake-filled lowlands of the Selawik River and to the upriver areas of the Purcell Mountains and Zane Hills.  Wildlife sightings were frequent and included black bear, caribou, moose, porcupine, and spruce grouse.  Staff concluded that access to the area by foot for research and management purposes may be feasible for certain projects.  The trip also revealed little known opportunities for excellent recreational hiking on the refuge.

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



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