ALASKA MARITIME NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is a place of great distances and greater dramas. Here winds whip through the grasses of rugged, wave-pounded islands; and active volcanoes simmer, venting steam above collars of fog. It is a place of contrasts, where relics of a past war slowly rust in deserted valleys, while, nearby, great forests of kelp team with life. It is, and has long been, a place of refuge, and has seen some of the most dramatic wildlife conservation stories in our nation's history.
Containing some of the first conservation-unit areas to be established in America, today's Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge includes lands that were formerly parts of ten previously established refuges. Many of these units are still represented among the ten distinct congressionally-designated Wilderness areas included in Alaska Maritime, which range in size from the approximately 1.3 million acre Aleutian Islands Wilderness to the 32 acre Hazy Islands Wilderness. Because it is spread out along most of the 47,300 miles of Alaska's coastline, the sheer span of this refuge is difficult to grasp. Its more than 2,500 islands, islets, spires, rocks, reefs, waters and headlands extend from Forrester Island, to the north of Canada's Queen Charlotte Islands deep in the southeast tongue of the state, to the westernmost tip of the Aleutians (and of America!), and north to Cape Lisburne on the Arctic Ocean. Traveling between its farthest-flung points would be the equivalent of taking a trip from Georgia to California.
No other maritime National Wildlife Refuge in America is as large or as productive. Alaska Maritime's seashore lands provide nesting habitat for approximately 40 million seabirds, or about 80% of Alaska's nesting seabird population (and more than half of the nesting seabirds in America)
Stretching from the Arctic Ocean to the southeast panhandle, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge protects breeding habitat for seabirds, marine mammals and other wildlife on more than 2,500 islands, spires, rocks and coastal headlands. Some of these isolated islands host unique species not found elsewhere. This Refuge may be the frontier where the next new bird or plant will be discovered.
More than 9,000 years ago, marine mammals and birds fed and clothed Alaska's earliest coastal peoples and gave rise to prosperous civilizations. Aleut/Unangan, Yup'ik, Inupiat, Dena'ina Athabascan, Alutiiq, Haida and Tlingit all have roots on this refuge.