The National Wildlife Refuge System is committed to building partnerships which encourage conservation and preservation of our natural and cultural resources.  Partnerships with the Refuge System bring innovative approaches to solving land management and water disputes in the most environmentally protective manner. If conservation efforts are to succeed, stewardship of our public lands, waters, wildlife and special places must be collaborative efforts between the Refuge System, other government agencies, and private organizations.

Sister Refuge Interpretive Panel 512x326.jpg

San Pablo Bay Sister Refuge 

The Yukon Flats Refuge has a “Sister Refuge” relationship with the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge in San Francisco’s North Bay. This urban national wildlife refuge on the coast of California is connected to the remote Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge in the Alaskan interior through the migratory pathways in the Pacific Flyway of the canvasback duck. Canvasback ducks are the largest diving duck in North America, and they at one time were a species of conservation concern. 

At the end of summer when temperatures start dropping on Yukon Flats Refuge, canvasbacks born and raised here migrate towards warmer weather in the lower reaches of North America. Many of these canvasbacks end up in the waters of San Pablo Bay Refuge, where they spend their winters feeding on wild celery and clams before returning to the Yukon Flats to have young of their own.

In the 1950s and 60s, biologists banded thousands of ducks on what is now the Yukon Flats Refuge. They used information from these bird-banding efforts to learn the importance of the area’s breeding habitat to national waterfowl populations. Of these thousands of banded ducks, 313 canvasbacks were recovered – and 89 of those recovered canvasbacks were recorded as being from wintering grounds in the San Francisco Bay area. In recognition of the importance of protecting canvasback habitats throughout their migratory pathway, each Refuge’s establishing legislation specifically mentions the canvasback as a species of particular importance and conservation concern.

This pairing of refuges provides a tangible opportunity to educate residents in the Bay Area and the Yukon River Basin about how wildlife refuges function together as a national network of public lands despite their apparent differences and the great distance that separates them

Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges 

The Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges was established in 2005 by public land supporters and wildlife enthusiasts to support all 16 of Alaska’s national wildlife refuges. The organization supports Alaskan wildlife refuges in a variety of capacities including hosting environmental education and outreach events, helping to monitor species and ecosystems, organizing volunteers, and managing invasive species. In 2010, the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges was celebrated as the “Friends Group of the Year” by the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

Learn More about Friends of Alaska Wildlife Refuges