National Wildlife Refuge
|6 Main Street
PO Box 270
Dillingham, AK 99576
Phone Number: 907-842-1063
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Pacific Walrus find sanctuary on Togiak at their largest haulout on a National Wildlife Refuge.|
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge
Dominated by the Ahklun Mountains in the north and the cold waters of Bristol Bay to the south, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge confronts the traveler with a kaleidoscope of landscapes. The natural forces that have shaped this land range from the violent and powerful to the geologically patient. Earthquakes and volcanoes filled the former role, and their marks can still be found, but it was the gradual advance and retreat of glacial ice that carved many of the physical features of this refuge.
And what a wealth of biological diversity these carved and crumpled lands support! The refuge is home to 48 mammal species, 31 of which are terrestrial and 17 marine. More than 150,000 caribou from two herds, the Nushagak Peninsula and the Mulchatna, make use of refuge lands, which they share with wolves, moose, brown and black bears, wolverines, red foxes, marmots, beavers, and porcupines, among other land mammals. Seals, sea lions, walrus and whales are found at various times of year along the refuge's 600 miles of coastline.
Some 201 species of birds have been sighted on Togiak Refuge. Threatened species can occasionally be found here, including Steller's and spectacled eiders. Several arctic goose species frequent the refuge, along with murres, peregrine falcons, dowitchers, Lapland longspurs and a rich variety of other seabirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors. Refuge staff and volunteers have also documented more than 500 species of plants, demonstrating a high degree of biodiversity for a sub-arctic area.
Getting There . . .
Most non-local visitors travel to Togiak Refuge by air charter services from airports in Dillingham (where the refuge office is located) and Bethel, Alaska. Visitors generally travel to these communities on commercial flights originating at Anchorage's Ted Stevens International Airport.
Diversity is the name of the game at Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. A myriad of habitats host diverse populations of flora and fauna thriving in their natural balance. Learn More>>
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge and southwest Alaska have a rich cultural heritage that continues through the present, as many groups of immigrants have added their traditions to those of the native Yupik Eskimos. The colorful history has been shaped by many influences, from Russian exploration, through fur trapping, gold prospecting, and the development of the fishing industry that has been the mainstay of the region for decades. Learn More>>
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Managers on Togiak Refuge don't spend much time moving dirt, modifying water levels, burning the woods, or fighting exotic invaders, tasks that often consume the time of refuge staffers in the Lower 48. Mother Nature handles most of those activities here. Management consists primarily of keeping a finger on the pulse of the ecosystem and managing human uses to ensure the continuation of the pristine conditions that have existed over the millennia. To this end, the refuge staff monitor the populations of a host of terrestrial, aquatic and marine fish and wildlife species and their habitats, as well as environmental conditions.
For example, providing subsistence opportunities for the residents of eight local villages is a refuge priority. Monitoring subsistence species gives the refuge manager the information necessary to manage wildlife resources for the continuing benefit of subsistence users.
Guided public use is managed through a complex permitting program that includes air and water taxi services, sportfishing, big game hunting, and wildlife viewing. Unguided access is managed through public contacts and a force of Refuge Rangers who patrol more than 200 miles of rivers. In total, Togiak Refuge receives a public use level of more than 20,000 visitor days per year.
The refuge's outreach program is the key to gaining public support for management activities. Efforts include three environmental education camps, 80 to 100 classroom visits per year in 14 communities, a weekly radio program, teacher workshops, interpretive programs at the local airport and village public meetings.