Wetlands

Wetlands

The Nowitna Refuge's many river watersheds and thousands of lakes provide an abundant aquatic resource. The principal rivers on or adjacent to the refuge include the Yukon, Nowitna, Sulatna, Big Mud, Little Mud and Grand Creek. With the exception of the Nowitna, all of these rivers carry a heavy sediment load.

The Nowitna River is the heart of the refuge. This meandering river is constantly creating of new habitats for fish and wildlife. The river's main channel is 283 miles long, of which 223 miles are within the refuge. The river ranges from 150 to 450 feet wide, and has a mild gradient and Class I water. The main channel in the lower river is typically 20-30 feet deep in early summer. Limestone in the Kuskokwim Mountains, near the headwaters of the Nowitna, contributes carbonates that buffer the acidic qualities of the river and make it more productive than many of its interior Alaskan counterparts. The river flows into the Yukon River, which is the fifth largest river system in North America.

Lowlands of the Nowitna Refuge are dominated by ponds and marshes, most of them smaller than ten acres. There are approximately 14,000 lakes and ponds on the refuge, and wetland acreage is estimated at about 30,000.