Wilderness was established in 1980 with the passage of the Alaska National Lands
Conservation Act (ANILCA), incorporating approximately 503,000 acres. Although the
landscape of the Alaska Peninsula is de facto wilderness, this federally designated
area has additional protections.
Wilderness contains a broad diversity of habitats. The eastern boundary is the
Pacific Ocean, lined with swathes of sandy beach, rocky coastline, and steep
cliffs. Uplifted layers of fossil-bearing rock tilt into the sea, windswept and
traced with the tracklines of brown bears. In summer, the cliffs are packed
with thousands of murres and kittiwakes, their calls reverberating over the
surf. The boundary on the north follows the knife-edged peaks of the Kejulik
Mountains that separate the Refuge from Katmai National Park. These uplands
shed meltwater from the winter snows into the Kejulik River and its valley,
spurring vigorous growth of brush that provides shelter and food for moose.
almost to Whale Mountain to the west, the boundary line follows the shore of
Becharof Lake, out to the end of the Severson Peninsula that divides Island Arm
from the open water. Sockeye salmon mass in the streams well into the fall,
drawing char and grayling, bears and cormorants. The flat tundra by the lake
bears tiny wind-compressed blossoms in summer, and scattered berries later in
the year. The southern boundary line crosses the Arm and the Aleutian Range,
back to the coast at Cape Unalishagvak.
prominent point of land, formed by the actions of ancient glaciers, extends
from the northern shore of Becharof Lake.
Near the end is a cluster of small cabins, built in 1967 as a Christian
camp. These were incorporated into the Wilderness, and still see use today by
anglers, hunters, pilots, students, Refuge staff, and other visitors. The
Refuge stores emergency supplies and equipment at Bear Creek Camp to help those
trapped by weather or other circumstances.
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Seabirds mass in summer on rocky Pacific cliffs. Common murres are especially vulnerable to some kinds of change.