Supporting Marine Conservation in Alaska
It’s not just tropical marine environments that need protection; for one Long Run member conservation efforts don’t stop, even when the world around them freezes to a stand-still.
Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge is situated within the 1,700-acre Pedersen Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary, a biologically rich estuary ecosystem in Alaska. Surrounding the Sanctuary is Kenai Fjords National Park, a 670,000-acre park established by the United States National Park Service to protect the Harding Icefield, one of the largest in the country with almost 714 square miles of ice up to a mile thick, and its outflowing glaciers and coastal fjords.
Fjord ecosystems are incredibly unique — existing in only six locations around the world. Kenai’s complex web of life thrives off the unique conditions where the glacier streams meet the sea. Alaska Wildland Adventures manages The Pedersen Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary on behalf of the Port Graham Native Corporation. Unlike so many Alaska Native Corporations that rely on extractive industries, this model demonstrates the value in conservation via eco-tourism.
Marine animals include harbour seals, sea otters and Stellar sea lions and twenty species of seabirds nest along the rocky coastline, including clown-face puffins and bald eagles. Guests are drawn to Kenai for its unique nature and get the chance to see conservation in a cold marine environment first-hand. Every evening guide presentations cover local natural and human history including climate change, glacier loss, marine debris and invasive species. Despite its remote position, Kenai is affected by global problems.
To overcome the damaging impact of marine debris, throughout the year, staff collect, bag and remove litter from the beaches and while on boat trips while minimising the lodge’s waste.
Climate Change is having a direct impact on the park’s shoreline, which moves as sea levels rise. The lodge supports the National Park Service to monitor species of concern, such as the black oystercatcher, that are particularly susceptible to climate change due to their dependence on the intertidal ecosystem.
Kenai Fjord’s cold climate helps to slow the spread of invasive plant species, but infestations still happen. These plants disturb the balance of the ecosystem and at worst, make native species extinct. Kenai Fjords National Park Environmental Protection Specialist, Christina Kriedeman, visits Sanctuary every July so that she can monitor the area for invasive weeds and removing them.
More information: https://www.thelongrun.org/kenai-fjords-glacier-lodge/