Refuge Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge will celebrate its 75th anniversary this weekend and take the opportunity to acknowledge some of its accomplishments and contributions since its establishment in 1941.

Refuge Manager Anne Marie LaRosa, says the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge is one of over 560 national wildlife refuges in the country

“So, Alaska has 16 national wildlife refuges and we comprise over 50 percent of the acreage in the national wildlife refuge system, and within that Kodiak is one of those 16 refuges, and those refuges provide a lot of different benefits to wildlife.”

She says they monitor and protect wildlife and provide access for the public – for instance through fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, and photography.

“We get almost 70,000 visitors a year. That’s including visitors to the visitor center, but almost two thirds of those actually visit the refuge itself, which on some days I find pretty amazing considering how difficult it is to get to the refuge from Kodiak town.”

The refuge also caters to residents and contributes to local education. For the last twenty years, kids in grades K through 8 have learned about Kodiak’s natural resources and science through Salmon Camp.

Camp director Kari Eschenbacher says this year’s theme was ‘natural cycles,’ which instructors helped teach through stories, lessons, and hands-on activities.

“Whether that’s we’re actually being the earth’s water and having to move our bodies when the moon is going past to kind of understand how tides work with the moon and the gravity of the moon, or we might play a game where we are salmon going through the salmon life cycle and trying to make it through. Salmon have it rough.”

Salmon Camp will celebrate its 20th anniversary alongside the refuge on Saturday. You can get in on the merriment at the community BBQ beginning at 5 p.m. at Sargent Park. There will be games, face-painting, and cake.

Kodiak community members will also have the chance to learn about refuge history from several guest speakers, who will begin presenting at 4 p.m. in the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.

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