U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

Travelers typically use rafts, canoes, and kayaks to float the upper section of the Nowitna River
101 Front St.
P.O. Box 287
Galena, AK   99741
E-mail: nowitna@fws.gov
Phone Number: 907-656-1231
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Canoeist on the Nowitna River
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  Wildlife and Habitat

Continued . . .

Spring floods refill adjacent lakes and sloughs with nutrients, creating a productive landscape for waterfowl nesting and brood rearing. American wigeon, mallard, and northern pintail are common among the tends of thousands of waterfowl that nest here each year. Canada and white-fronted geese drift with their young along riverbanks, while trumpeter and tundra swans nest on lakes. Moose and beaver seek out tender willows at the water's edge, while salmon, whitefish, sheefish and pike swim unseen in the river channel.

Beyond the riverbank extends a broad mosaic of wet meadows, white and black spruce forests, paper birch, aspen, balsam poplar, alders and willows. Lightning-cause fires help create habitat variety in this boreal forest. Grasses, herbs, shrubs and deciduous trees arrive in succession following fire, providing food and shelter needed by the Refuge's wildlife. Lynx and pine marten prowl the spruce forests, hunting snowshoe hares, voles, lemmings and other prey. Other predators roam the land: foxes, wolves, coyotes, black and grizzly bears, weasels, and the elusive wolverine. In summer these woods are accented by the song and color of songbirds which have migrated thousands of miles to take advantage of the season of plenty. Most will leave with the waterfowl during the crisp, golden days of autumn, but a hearty few, such as gray jays, redpolls and chickadees, remain throughout the cold winter. Then the vibrant greens of summer are muted by a cloak of white, and the Refuge is wrapped in the severe beauty of northern winter.

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