Saturday, April 30, 2016

Day Two: Wildfire Prevention
            Today, we arrived bright and early at the Kenai Peninsula Refuge Center. There, we were first introduced to the history of the Kenai Peninsula. Compared to other territories, settlers did not appear in Alaska until the mid to late 1700s. The Peninsula is made up of two different, distinct climates: a boreal forest and a temperate forest. These areas vary in average rainfall and temperature. The boreal forest, on the Western side of the Kenai Peninsula, is more often colder and drier. Due to environmental factors of the boreal forest, the region is very prone to forest fires.  By analyzing fire scars on trees, scientists have been able to identify the location and the year of past forest fires. Many significant fires occurred in the 20th century following high numbers of human settlement in 1920s. In 1947, there was a human caused forest fire that burned over 300,000 acres. The Kenai Peninsula experienced a significant drought in 1968 where there was a 60% drop in the available water in the environment. This was followed by the 1969 fire that burnt 86,000 acres. Most recently, the Funny River Fire occurred in 2014 and burnt 200,000 acres of the refuge. The Funny River Fire was important for better understanding the effectiveness of fire prevention in wilderness.
            There are a few different types of preventative measures that can taken in order to aid in fighting wildfires. Firebreaks are natural or manmade changes in the environment that change the available fuel. The objective of these firebreaks is to make it so the fire can be better controlled. In the Funny River fire there were three important firebreaks that allowed the fire to be controlled and prevented it from spreading to residential districts. There are masticated firebreaks in which all the vegetation is removed, shaded firebreaks that are thinned areas of the forest and natural firebreaks such as lakes.
Moreover, wildfires are important to the Alaskan ecology. In the aftermath of these fires, new vegetation will grow. Moose are particular fans of the buds found on the juvenile aspen and willow trees. Regardless, wildfire prevention is necessary to protect the communities here in Alaska. It’s the job of both the homeowners and the government to work together in order to fully protect the beautiful land of the Kenai Peninsula.

Jessica Tiner and Kristin Gilbert

Friday, April 29, 2016

Here is a photo from of our group at the Paterson Field Station in Katchemak Bay.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Day One
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Portage, Alaska.

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center focuses on preserving and hosting many special animals. This center takes in a lot of hurt or young abandoned animals. 
This conservation center currently hosts four bears. Kuma is a male black bear that was brought into the AWCC 14 years ago because he was found in a hole of someone’s backyard. Hugo is a female grizzly bear who was found with 100s of porcupine quills embedded in her paws. She was then brought to the AWCC and has been there for 16 years. Joe Boxer and Patron are two brown bears whose mother was killed by a resident who’s yard they were in and the resident felt this bear was a harm to his dog. Upon the death of these cubs’ mother, the AWCC came and rescued them to make sure they would properly
grow up.  

A lot of the other animals that stay at the AWCC were found in the same way as these bears. The AWCC hosts many bald eagles as these birds are incredibly abundant in the state of Alaska. Elk are also a large amount of animals on this conservation center. Along with these animals are the moose, musk ox, caribou, owls, porcupine and black-tailed deer. A very important set of animals are the wood bison.
Wood bison were extirpated, or otherwise known as just never seen, after almost 100 years the wood bison found their back into the state of Alaska. From the combination of the AWCC and the Department of Fish and Game they were actually able to reintroduce the wood bison fully back into the Alaskan wild. Before they could fully go into the wild a lot of work was put into it. In 2003, only 13 young bison were brought to the AWCC from Yukon. The following summer two calves were born. As of recently the first wild conceived wood bison was born, and the future looks bright for the wood bison thanks to the AWCC. 

Baily Williams and Kristin Gilbert

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Alaska 2016

Alaska 2016,
 Hey all.  This blog will serves as the class blog for the Elmira College 2016 Alaska: Wildlife Ecology & Conservation. We will be blogging here as the course progresses. Stay tuned as we will post our activities and photos as we progress through the course.

If you would like an email when we post just use the subscribe button to the right.

If you would like a peek at our lodging, you can see it below.

Dr. Stilts