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KANUTI: A Little Dirty Work Yields a Better Map
Alaska Region, September 11, 2009
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National Resources Conservation Service Soil Scientist, Mark Clark, records data obtained from a soil pit he dug on the Kanuti Refuge. August 25, 2009. FWS photo.
National Resources Conservation Service Soil Scientist, Mark Clark, records data obtained from a soil pit he dug on the Kanuti Refuge. August 25, 2009. FWS photo. - Photo Credit: n/a
National Resources Conservation Service Soil Scientist, Mark Clark, pulls very old ice from a permafrost layer in a soil pit. August 28, 2009. FWS photo.
National Resources Conservation Service Soil Scientist, Mark Clark, pulls very old ice from a permafrost layer in a soil pit. August 28, 2009. FWS photo. - Photo Credit: n/a
Though the work was dirty, the survey crew enjoyed spectacular fall scenery while hiking to some of the soil survey sites in the Kanuti Refuge. August 27, 2009. FWS photo.
Though the work was dirty, the survey crew enjoyed spectacular fall scenery while hiking to some of the soil survey sites in the Kanuti Refuge. August 27, 2009. FWS photo. - Photo Credit: n/a

A preliminary soils map of Kanuti Refuge will be the end result of a week’s field work that included dozens of miles of walking, five days of digging 3-5 ft deep soil pits, and hours of flying over the refuge.  In late August 2009 Kanuti Refuge staff cooperated Soil Scientist Mark Clark of the Alaska office of the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to incorporate refuge data into a statewide soils map. Refuge Manager Mike Spindler flew Clark to transect sites throughout the Refuge, digging 34 soil pits and collecting soil samples.  Soil and vegetation data from Kanuti Refuge and other locations will be combined with aerial photography and satellite imagery to produce a statewide soil-ecological map at a scale of 1:250,000 by 2011.

 

The Kanuti effort was part of NRCS’ “STATSGO” project aimed at providing statewide coverage of soils and vegetation at a higher level of detail than the existing “Exploratory Soil Survey of Alaska” done in 1979.  Although the Kanuti Refuge field effort was to help refine the STATSGO map, Clark will provide a refuge-specific report that will interpret soil, vegetation, permafrost, disturbance, and landscape relationships.  Additional field work would be required to develop a detailed Kanuti Refuge map. 

 

Besides his work at Kanuti, in 2009 Clark made field visits to Yukon Delta, Alaska Maritime, and Tetlin refuges.  NRCS is interested in obtaining information from refuges with large wetland complexes, habitats poorly represented in past soils mapping efforts.

 

Spindler said "I really appreciate the cooperation of NRCS in providing this information to refuges, and I'm especially thankful for the opportunity to learn first-hand about the interrelationship of soils and vegetation on Kanuti. Kanuti staff are looking forward to receiving the updated soils map from NRCS and using it in future inventory and monitoring efforts on the refuge."  Clark has covered much of Alaska on foot in a 30-year career that led him to some areas even more remote than Kanuti.  

 

To contact Clark:

 

Mark Clark

Regional Soil Scientist

Palmer, Alaska

907-761-7763

mark.clark@ak.usda.gov


Contact Info: Joanna Fox, (907) 456-0330, joanna_fox@fws.gov



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