Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
KODIAK: Ground-breaking Soil Survey Started
Alaska Region, November 6, 2009
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NRCS personnel sampling soil and vegetation near Karluk Lake. Bill Pyle/USFWS
NRCS personnel sampling soil and vegetation near Karluk Lake. Bill Pyle/USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) initiated a survey of soils and vegetation on the Refuge and adjacent lands in summer 2009.  This was the first time the Service has collaborated with the NRCS to execute surveys of Refuge lands in Alaska.


The survey area encompassed the Karluk River and Sturgeon River watersheds, an area totaling 226,000 acres, where ownership primarily consists of a mixture of federal (Refuge) and private (Koniag, Inc.) lands.  The survey team sampled soils and vegetation at 308 sites over a 14-day period in late July and early August.  A typical field day consisted of outfitting four field crews, travel to remote survey sites by boat or helicopter, and sampling soil physical and chemical properties and vegetation composition at 18-26 survey plots.  We expect draft results—including GIS themes and associated soils, vegetation, and landform data—to be issued in spring 2010.  Ultimately, the NRCS will publish results following completion of its archipelago-wide survey effort.


A key feature of the NRCS survey, part of a national program, is that it covers survey costs on private and state land including fieldwork, data processing, analyses, and generation of products.  In contrast, federal cooperators such as the Refuge are required to cover costs for surveys conducted on federal lands.  Because of the difference in private-federal costs, much of the Refuge’s survey request targets a few watersheds that contain a mix of private and federal land.  It is in these areas where we can, working in conjunction with private-sector partners, afford to acquire survey services in a cost-efficient, ecologically relevant manner.


The Refuge views the survey as integral to management because soils and vegetation collectively form the foundation of terrestrial wildlife habitat.  Moreover, the diversity, distribution, and productivity of habitat are ultimately related to the type, extent, and variety of soils and vegetation.  The need for this baseline data is particularly acute and compelling in light of projected influences of climate change on soils, vegetation, and interdependent wildlife values and human uses.


Contact Info: Bill Pyle, 907-487-2600-228, Bill_Pyle@fws.gov
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