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State of Alaska Parks

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USA Parks
Interior Region
Selawik National Wildlife Refuge
Willow Grouse ©
Willow Grouse
Northern Lights ©
Aurora Borealis - Thursday March 8th
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Building 160, 2nd Ave
Kotzebue, Alaska   99752-3799

Phone: 907-442-3799
Email: park email button icon
It could be argued that Selawik National Wildlife Refuge contains some of the most historically significant acreage in North America, as the refuge lands once formed part of the American portion of the vast Bering Land Bridge that, some scientists speculate, was the route followed by the ancestors of many of today's large mammals, as well as early humans, when traveling between Asia and the America's some 12,000 years ago.

Today, the refuge is home to a variety of wildlife. Hundreds of thousands of caribou from the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, the largest in Alaska, travel through the refuge in spring and fall. Portions of the herd sometimes winter on Selawik. Moose, brown bear, wolverine and other furbearers are present year around. Selawik's approximately 24,000 lakes and wetlands also serve as breeding or stop-over resting places for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, some arriving from as far away as Australia. And, in addition to the sheefish that gave the refuge its name, whitefish, arctic grayling and northern pike are present in Selawik's waters.

Nature of the Area
Selawik Refuge is an awe-inspiring land of vast tundra, spruce forest, birch and alder lined foothills. The sweeping waterways and wetlands give shelter and provide habitat for a wide array of migratory and resident arctic fauna. Because the Selawik refuge is in the transition zone where the northernmost boreal forest gives way to true arctic tundra, there are a diverse array of fish and wildlife species found here. More than 30 mammal, 10 fish, and 160 bird species can be found on the refuge at various times of the year.

History of the Area
Selawik National Wildlife Refuge is located in remote northwestern Alaska. The Refuge is encompassed by an arctic landscape rich in cultural heritage and natural beauty. Northwest Alaska has played a key role in North American history as a travel route, as a home for northern peoples, a rich trapping ground, and as a reindeer herding area, to name just a few topics of historical interest. Like many other National Parks, Preserves, and Refuges, the Selawik Refuge was officially established in 1980 with the passage of ANILCA. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. This land designation and subsequent management by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the most recent chapter in the long history of this northern landscape.


Selawik National Wildlife Refuge is

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To reach the refuge one usually takes a commercial air service from Anchorage to Kotzebue; Kotzebue can not be reached by road. From Kotzebue, visitors generally travel into the refuge by small bush aircraft. Air taxi operators also provide service to the refuge from Galena, which has air access from Fairbanks. The refuge office is in Kotzebue on Second Avenue, Building 160, and is within walking distance of the airport. Exit the airport left to Third Avenue. Go right on Third to Lake street. Go left to Second Avenue, then turn right. The office is in the middle of the block on the right. Taxi service from the airport to the refuge office is also available.

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State of Alaska Parks