Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
TETLIN: Refuge hosts Biological Review
Alaska Region, October 21, 2004
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A biological program review of Tetlin Refuge was held October 18-22, 2004, in Tok, Alaska. Nineteen managers, biologists, and research scientists from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Alaska's Institute of Arctic Biology, Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks, Alaska Bird Observatory, National Parks Canada, and the Fish and Wildlife Service focused on the refuge's biological program. Panelists evaluated current and proposed fish, wildlife and habitat inventory, monitoring, and research studies being conducted or supported by the Refuge. An aircraft overflight provided panelists a better perspective of the boreal forest ecosystem that comprises the Refuge. A tour along the Alaska Highway that borders the Refuge prompted discussions on the potential impacts of the proposed Alaska gas pipeline, commercial development along the highway corridor, and invasive species introduced by vehicles and boats. The panel will review current and proposed studies to recommend priorities to the Refuge. In addition to the written Biological Program Review, results will be included in the Refuge Inventory and Monitoring Plan and revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan.

Located in the Upper Tanana River Valley of east-central Alaska, the 934,000 acre Tetlin Refuge was established in 1980 under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The importance of the Tanana River Valley as a migratory bird migration corridor is exemplified by the 200,000 lesser sandhill cranes, 50 percent of the mid-continental population, that pass over Tetlin Refuge each spring and fall. Recognizing the significance of the Tanana Valley as a migration corridor for landbirds as well as waterfowl, the Refuge conducts a comprehensive regional and national survey monitoring program to assess landbird migration, productivity, survivorship and breeding. The river and stream, mixed birch-aspen-white spruce forests, extensive wetlands and alpine tundra habitats that characterize Tetlin Refuge provide foraging, breeding, and wintering habitat for caribou, moose, Dall sheep, lynx, brown and black bears, mink, and wolverine. Because fire is a primary ecological driver of the boreal forest ecosystem, Tetlin Refuge was one of 14 refuges in the country selected for a Land Management Research Demonstration (LMRD) area. Under this program, the Refuge will design and implement a fire monitoring and research program to better understand the role of fire in the boreal forest in relation to nutrient cycling, vegetation recovery, and the diversity, abundance and productivity of fish and wildlife. Located along the Alaska Highway near the Canadian border, the Refuge's gateway provides a prime site to teach the public about natural resources and our management challenges.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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