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IZEMBEK:Refuge Teachs Locals About Their Unique Backyard
Alaska Region, July 8, 2008
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Amy Tippery displays a living sample of the eelgrass ecosystem from Izembek Lagoon.
Amy Tippery displays a living sample of the eelgrass ecosystem from Izembek Lagoon. - Photo Credit: n/a

Two programs targeting distinct audiences were presented recently but with the same goal: to give local residents a glimpse of the extraordinary resource in their backyard --Izembek Lagoon.  The 150-square mile Izembek Lagoon and its associated tidelands have been protected by the State of Alaska since 1960 as Izembek State Game Refuge. Also since 1960, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge has protected the watershed of Izembek Lagoon, named in 1986 as the first U.S. “Wetland of International Importance” and the biological heart of the Refuge. 

Izebek Lagoon’s shallow, brackish water covers one of the world's largest beds of eelgrass, creating a rich feeding and resting area for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl. Virtually the entire population of Pacific black brant, Taverner's Canada geese, and emperor geese visit the lagoon each fall, along with large numbers of threatened Steller's eiders.  

On July 8, an evening program for adults was presented at the Cold Bay Community Center entitled “Izembek Lagoon 101: Your Grassy Backyard” by Amy Tippery, a M.S. Marine Biology candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who is investigating the effects of climate change on seagrass ecosystems at extreme northern latitudes.

The next afternoon, Ms. Tippery and Izembek’s  SCA intern Audrey Bohl visited the Summer Reading Program at the Cold Bay Library and helped kids investigate eelgrass samples and the creatures that call it home. They played a lively game of “Hunter and the Hunted” and went home with activity books to share with their families.

 

By sharing knowledge of Izembek’s extraordinary eelgrass habitats with children and adults, Izembek Refuge staff is trying to further the Service’s priority of “Connecting People with Nature” and looks forward to more opportunities in the future that will have residents saying, “Let’s Go Outside!”


Contact Info: Kristine Sowl, 907-532-2445, kristine_sowl@fws.gov



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