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About the Complex

Ugashik sceneThere are three units of Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge.  Two are managed as a complex with Becharof NWR.

Becharof National Wildlife Refuge includes a federally designated Wilderness, as well as Alaska's second largest lake. Millions of salmon drive the ecosystem, as well as supporting the world's last remaining wild salmon commercial fishery.

Alaska Peninsula NWR, formed in 1980 with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), has three units: Ugashik, Chignik, and Pavlof. The Pavlof Unit is managed as a complex with Izembek NWR. The other two are managed with Becharof NWR from headquarters in King Salmon. 

The Chignik Unit contains massive Mount Veniaminof, a National Natural Landmark and an active volcano. Ash fell all summer on the nearby communities in 2013 as small eruptions fumed in the broad crater. Extensive lands within the Refuge boundary belong to Alaska Native tribes. Four villages within this area are currently inhabited: Perryville, Chignik Bay, Chignik Lake, and Chignik Lagoon.

Ugashik Unit contains the oldest known archaeological site on the Alaska Peninsula, dating back 9,000 years. The site is located at the Narrows, where Upper and Lower Ugashik lakes pinch together. A popular site for millenia, the fishing is still fabulous. Mt. Chiginagak, farther south, is a steaming volcano. In 2005, a flood of highly acidic water was released from the crater, scorching a wide swathe of vegetation and leaving Mother Goose Lake toxic. As the lake has slowly returned from acid to neutral, life has also returned.

Also part of the complex are some portions of Alaska Maritime NWR. Alaska Maritime's far-flung holdings are scattered all along the state's coastline.

Page Photo Credits — Ugashik scene, Bob Dreeszen
Last Updated: Feb 25, 2014
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