The Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act established Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge on December 2, 1980. Sandwiched between Becharof National Wildlife Refuge to the north and Izembek National Wildlife Refuge to the south, this refuge encompasses towering mountains, active volcanoes, broad valleys, fjords, tundra and glacially formed lakes. Pacific salmon, brown bears, the Alaska Peninsula caribou herd, moose, sea otters, migratory birds, raptors and many other species of fish and wildlife inhabit and migrate through this refuge. This refuge supports roughly 40% of the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run, the largest sustainable sockeye salmon fishery in the world.
Mount Veniaminof, a unique and active volcano, is located in the Refuge's Chignik Unit. It was designated a Natural Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in August 1970. Its peak rises about 50 miles east-northeast of Port Moller on Bristol Bay and 40 miles west-southwest of Chignik Bay on the Pacific. It's approximately 450 miles southwest of Anchorage. Although the National Natural Landmarks Program is administered by the National Park Service, the Mount Veniaminofis administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The primary purposes of the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge is to to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity including brown bears, the Alaska Peninsula caribou herd, moose, sea otters, and other marine mammals, shorebirds and other migratory birds, raptors including bald eagles and peregrine falcons, and salmonids and other fish.
Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System is established to serve a statutory purpose that targets the conservation of native species dependent on its lands and waters. All activities on those acres are reviewed for compatibility with this statutory purpose. Alaska's Refuges 16 Refuges conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity; fulfill international treaty obligations of the United States with respect to fish and wildlife and their habitats; provide opportunities for continued subsistence uses by local residents; support scientific research; and protect water quality and quantity.
Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge was established when congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) in 1980. Prior to ANILCA, the area was part of the federal public domain. The refuge is managed as a "complex" that includes the Ugashik and Chignik units of the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge, the Becharof National Wildlife Refuge, and the Seal Cape area of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
Indigenous has its origins along the Pacific Coast of the Alaska Peninsula and in the eastern Aleutians and Kodiak. The earliest human occupation known on the Peninsula dates to 10,500 years ago. Though the earliest known people were mobile caribou hunters at Ugashik Narrows, early inhabitants soon moved toward the coasts and began hunting marine mammals. By eight thousand years ago early humans in Alaska were living in Kodiak and on islands in the eastern Aleutians.
By 6,000 years ago, Ocean Bay and early Aleutian traditions came into existence. Ocean Bay people developed many of the tools associated with Alaska Native culture including stone lamps for burning sea mammal oil, polished slate tools, incredible artwork, and elaborate bone tool technology. The economy was based on the subsistence use of sea mammals, birds, and marine fish resources.
Although the coast of the Bering and Chukchi seas were occupied as early as the Alaska Peninsula, these areas did not exhibit a maritime adaptation until much later. The earliest maritime adaptation on the Chukchi and Bering Sea coast is Old Whaling (1400 BCE). Old Whaling shows technological similarities to the Eastern Aleutians, Alaska Peninsula, and Kodiak cultures and may represent an expansion of these people to new regions.
The Refuge preserves a rich historical legacy. Fossils from the Refuge date from the Late Cretaceous period, the noted time when dinosaurs became extinct. Much more recently, the lands that now comprise the refuge served as a crossroads where prehistoric cultures from the Aleutian Islands, Kodiak, western Alaska coast and interior Alaska met and merged, creating unique local cultures. There are currently five Native villages within the refuge's boundaries, and numerous other known historical sites on the Refuge. The area was important in the early history of Alaska with Russian explorers and trappers active in the region. Later, the area played an important role in the early development of Alaska's commercial fishing industry and was the scene of some of the earliest scientific oil exploration efforts in the world.
Other Facilities in this Complex
Since 1983, we've managed the Ugashik and Chignik units of the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge, The Becharof Refuge, and the Seal Cape area of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge as a complex because they share resources and common issues. The administrative headquarters is located in King Salmon. The King Salmon Visitor Center provides information and educational services highlighting the natural and cultural resources and recreation opportunities on the Alaska Peninsula. This visitor center is operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in conjunction with the National Park Service, Bristol Bay Borough, and Lake and Peninsula Borough. Alaska Geographic supplies the bookstore, which raises funds for outreach and education.