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A Talk on the Wild Side.

The Kenai Refuge Notebook

What‘s it like to live in complete darkness for more than eighteen hours a day in December and more than 19 hours of sunlight in June?

Harding Ice FieldHarding ice field above Skilak glacier on Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

A place where snowfall can top 100 inches some years? A place where sub-zero temperatures are no big deal?

Don’t ask me.

Having lived in a mild temperate climate most of my life, I can hardly imagine what it would be like to live in Alaska. Although I don’t think I could stand the winters, the mystery and untamable nature of our northernmost state has always fascinated me.

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Looking Back: Chuck Hunt

Every so often it's good to look into the past to revisit the people who got us where we are today. Looking Back is a series on the people who helped shape the National Wildlife Refuge System. The series is based on "A Look Back," a regular column written by Karen Leggett, from the Refuge System Branch of Communications, which appears in each issue of the Refuge Update newsletter.

Chuck Hunt grew up in a remote Yupik village in Alaska, rich in culture, subsisting on the resources of nature.

Chuck Hunt

Those villages are still remote, but now they have schools, satellites and science. Hunt became the bridge between those two worlds. A 22-year employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Charles Francis “Chuck” Hunt served as a Native liaison for the Yupik people of western Alaska’s Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. Officially, he was a translator between the Upik language and English.

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Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of November 28th

The weather may be getting colder, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything to do outside! Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country this week.  As always, make sure you head over to the Refuge System's homepage and use their searchable map to find a Wildlife Refuge near you!

Let's go outside!

First Snow at SunsetThe season's first snow at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, ND on Nov. 7, 2011

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Teddy Roosevelt and the History of the National Wildlife Refuge System

Today, there are 553 refuges across the country, with at least one in every state, providing safety to more than 250 threatened or endangered plants and animals.  Have you ever wondered how we got there?

President Roosevelt, known for his love of nature and wildlife established Pelican Island as our first national refuge in 1903.  Though he didn’t know it at the time, Roosevelt had set the nation on the path to building the largest national Refuge System in the world. 

Throughout his presidency, refuges were established around the country, and by the time he left office in 1909, he had declared 53 refuges in 17 states and three territories.

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Alaska: Across the Wildest State, Climate Change Threatens Many Species and Habitats

A momma polar bear stands with baby bears flanking her on either side

An Alaska polar bear keeps close to her young along the Beaufort Sea coast in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Melting sea ice has made the polar bear a symbol of climate change impact. Photo: Susanne Miller, USFWS. Download.

Mutlimedia iconAudio: Interview with Alaska Native Elder Christina Westlake

Video: Polar Bear Research on the Chukchi Sea

With an area of more than 375 million acres extending 2,000 miles from east to west and 1,100 miles from north to south, Alaska dwarfs other states. The northernmost state is also unmatched in its range of climates and habitats — and nearly all are feeling impacts from climate change. 

During the last half-century, Alaska has seen some of the most rapid warming on earth, with temperatures rising 1 to almost 4 degrees Fahrenheit across its climate regions and ecosystems. By the year 2100, the average annual temperature of Alaska’s North Slope is projected to rise another 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

 “One big difference between Alaska and the Lower 48 is that here we’re dealing with impacts that have already occurred, not just forecasts of change,” says John Morton, Supervisory Fish and Wildlife Biologist at Alaska’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. “And because Alaska hasn’t undergone widespread landscape change from non-climate stressors such as agriculture and development, the impacts of climate change aren’t masked as they are elsewhere.”

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