Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge

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Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Map showing the location of Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing the location of Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge
Map of Alaska, United States
Location Alaska, United States
Nearest city Ruby, Alaska
Coordinates 64°40′00″N 154°00′02″W / 64.6666667°N 154.0005556°W / 64.6666667; -154.0005556Coordinates: 64°40′00″N 154°00′02″W / 64.6666667°N 154.0005556°W / 64.6666667; -154.0005556[1]
Area 2,100,000 acres (8,500 km2)
Established 1980
Governing body U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
http://nowitna.fws.gov/

The heart of Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge is a lowland basin of forests and wetlands that forms the floodplain of the meandering Nowitna River. The Refuge's climate is typically marked by light precipitation, mild winds, long, hard winters and short, relatively warm, summers. The hills that circle the refuge lowlands are capped by alpine tundra.

It takes a week in a canoe, or more than an hour in a small plane, to traverse the Refuge's 2,100,000 acres (8,500 km2) of pristine wildlife habitat. Approximately 223 miles (359 km) of the Nowitna River's 283-mile (455 km) length flow within the boundaries of the Refuge. Fish species inhabiting the river and its related lakes and streams include sheefish, burbot, whitefish, sucker, king and chum salmon, northern pike and arctic grayling.

The slow, meandering lower reaches of the Nowitna wander through one of Alaska's many productive waterfowl nurseries. The grassy margins of the river, surrounding lakes, and waterways provide breeding habitat for trumpeter swans, white-fronted geese, canvasback ducks, cranes, and many other migratory species. More than 120 bird species have been sighted on the Refuge during summer months, but only a few dozen hardy species remain through winters.

Mature white spruce in the forested lowlands provide cover and den sites for marten, and trapping these and other furbearers remains important to the economy of people in the region. In fact, refuge lands have been used for centuries by Koyukon Athabascans for hunting, fishing, trapping and other subsistence activities. Moose, wolves, lynx, wolverine and both black and grizzly bears might be encountered anywhere on the Refuge.

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 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.