Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
KODIAK: Refuge Science Needs Considered at Climate Change Workshop
Alaska Region, May 19, 2010
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Dr. Erik Beever, Research Ecologist with the USGS, addresses workshop participants.  B. Pyle/USFWS
Dr. Erik Beever, Research Ecologist with the USGS, addresses workshop participants. B. Pyle/USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a

National Wildlife Refuges across the U.S. are grappling with climate change concerns.  Chief among the concerns are our limited capacity to anticipate and plan for changes.  At Kodiak Refuge, managers acknowledge the concerns and challenges and have decided to do something about it.


In partnership with the Refuge, the USGS Alaska Science Center hosted a workshop, “Anticipating Climate Change Effects in the Karluk River Watershed” at Kodiak College in early May.  The facilitated workshop was attended by a diversity of interests including public and private sector land managers, as well as scientists from Alaska and across the nation.  Following a day of presentations focused on the “what we know and might expect”, participants sorted into work groups for discussion of “what we need to know” from additional monitoring and research to increase our capacity to model and anticipate climate change effects.  On the final day, work groups presented results, followed by a final exercise to rank which projects would provide the most important information.


The workshop focused on the Karluk River watershed.  At 152,000 acres, it is the Kodiak Archipelago. This exceptionally productive watershed provides spawning and rearing habitat for four of the archipelago’s largest salmon runs (pink, sockeye, Chinook, steelhead).  Collectively these important fish stocks supply vital subsistence to local communities, provide world-class recreational sport fishing opportunities, and support many commercial fishing jobs.  The profusion of salmon coupled with a rich mix of upland habitats supports the highest density of brown bears on the refuge—in fact; one of the highest documented anywhere. 


At the conclusion of the workshop was a key step in the Alaska Science Center’s partnership project with the Refuge.  Next and final steps include interpretation of workshop results and reporting of proceedings by October.  Ultimately, the Refuge plans to apply the project results as a springboard for advancing understanding and fostering proactive conservation of watershed resources.  As characterized by Gary Wheeler, Refuge Manager, “Our partnership sets a valuable precedent for Alaska refuges—namely accomplishing an important process step for successfully addressing climate change threats to refuge resources.”

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