ALASKA PENINSULA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Sandwiched between Becharof National Wildlife Refuge to the north and Izembek NWR to the south, Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge presents a breathtakingly dramatic landscape made up of active volcanoes, towering mountain peaks, rolling tundra and rugged, wave-battered coastlines. As is the case with most of Alaska's coastal refuges, salmon provide the principal "nutrient engine" for Alaska Peninsula, supporting the species that prey upon them and enriching the rivers and surrounding lands after they spawn and die.
Where there are salmon, there will usually be bears, and when the fish are running, Ugashik Lakes and the streams that surround them attract brown bears in great numbers. (Black bear are not found on Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge.) Other large land mammals include wolverine, the caribou of the approximately 7,000-animal Northern Alaska Peninsula Herd, wolves and moose. The latter are relative newcomers, first observed on the peninsula in the early 1900s, and uncommon until the 1950s. The refuge's coastal and offshore waters are home to sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions and migrating whales.
Alaska Peninsula's numerous wetlands and often rugged shoreline provide habitat for migratory birds, including ducks, geese and shorebirds. The refuge is also home to the westernmost black cottonwood forests in America, which offer both migration stop-over and nesting habitat to neotropical land birds.
Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge is a land of towering mountains, active volcanoes, broad valleys, fjords, tundra and glacially formed lakes. The Bristol Bay side of the Refuge consists primarily of flat to rolling tundra, lakes and wetlands. From these coastal lowlands, the land rises to steep glaciated mountains, forming the spine of the Refuge, and then plunges to steep cliffs and sandy beaches on the Pacific side. Several of the Refuge's volcanoes have been active in the recent past. Mt. Chiginigak last erupted in 1971 and continues to vent gases and steam. Mt. Veniaminoff, a massive strato-volcano with a base 30 miles in diameter and a summit crater 20 miles in circumference, erupted from 1993 to 1995. Mt. Veniaminoff has the most extensive crater glacier in the country and is the only known glacier on the continent with an active volcanic vent in its center.
The Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act (ANILCA) established the 3.7 million acre Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge on December 2, 1980. Before that, the lands were part of the federal public domain. In 1983, the Fish and Wildlife Service decided to manage 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 shared resources and common issues. The administrative headquarters is located in King Salmon, Alaska. Because of distance and weather barriers, the Pavlof Unit of the Alaska Peninsula Refuge is managed by the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, headquartered in Cold Bay Alaska.