|The smooth-sloped contours of the Brooks Range are reflected in Beaufort Sea ice in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge turns 50 this year, as does Izembek Refuge to the west. Some commemorative events have already begun.|
50-Year Celebrations Begin for Arctic and Izembek Refuges
The first celebrations have begun to mark the 50th anniversaries this year of two iconic Alaska refuges: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Many more events are planned.
Photo exhibits this summer in two Alaska cities — Fairbanks and Palmer —- have highlighted the austere beauty of the Arctic Refuge, home to polar bears, grizzlies and caribou. Other events in the works for the Arctic Refuge celebration include:
- “America’s Wildest Refuge: Discovering the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge” – An hour-long high-definition video documentary offers sweeping views of the refuge and interviews with its protectors. A video trailer is posted on YouTube. The Murie Center in Moose, Wyoming, plans to show the documentary next fall.
- “Arctic Sanctuary: Images of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge” – This exhibit contains large-scale photos by acclaimed landscape photographer Jeff Jones. An accompanying book, published by the University of Alaska Press, features more than 150 of Jones’s Arctic Refuge photos and interpretive essays by Laurie Hoyle. Some photos can be seen at http://arctic.fws.gov/50th.htm. The exhibit opens in Fairbanks in December, moves next spring to the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, and next fall to the Murie Center in Moose, Wyoming.
- Wild Legacy – This original stage production by the Memphis -based theater company Voices of the South is based on the writings of conservation pioneers Olaus and Margaret Murie, who were instrumental in establishing the Arctic Refuge. Performances are slated for December 2010 in Homer, Fairbanks and Anchorage. Next fall, the Murie Center will host the play.
- A Sense of the Refuge – This five-panel exhibit describes the history, geography, biology and significance of the Arctic Refuge as well as its impacts on people near and far.
Izembek Refuge’s kickoff event will be a photo exhibit at the headquarters of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in Homer during Refuge Week, October 10-16. The exhibit will feature refuge photos by Tom Collopy and Mary Frische, members of the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. A reception will include presentations on refuge history and wildlife.
The same exhibit will open Friday, October 22, at the Wendy Williamson auditorium at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. A reception there will include a presentation by Tom Kirchoff from the Alaska Chapter of the Audubon Society. The photos will be on display in Anchorage for about two weeks.
Next they will move to Juneau (reception Friday, November 12, Juneau Arts and Humanities Council) and then to the refuge headquarters in Cold Bay. The photos will be permanently installed in the Cold Bay Airport.
Izembek was established December 6, 1960, as a national wildlife range and renamed a refuge in 1980. It protects a range of species, including salmon, caribou, sea otter and brown bears. Visitors, including hunters and anglers, can reach the refuge only by state ferry (which now runs once a month May through October) or by air, weather permitting. The refuge, near the tip of the Alaska peninsula encompasses Izembek Lagoon, a world-renowned wetland and a pivotal stopover for hundreds of thousands of migratory waterbirds.
The Eisenhower administration established the Arctic National Wildlife Range in December 1960. In 1980, the range was expanded and renamed the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, a sweeping land conservation measure that protected more than 100 million acres of federal lands in Alaska and doubled the size of the Arctic Refuge.
For more information on the Arctic Refuge, including a timeline of refuge history, visit http://arctic.fws.gov/50th.htm
See also, on Facebook, “Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 50th Anniversary Celebration”