About Us

In 1980, more than 2 million acres of river valley, wetlands, forest and tundra became the Nowitna Refuge. Winding across the refuge, the Nowitna River forms a broad floodplain that comes alive each spring with the arrival of thousands of migratory songbirds and waterfowl. The river passes through a scenic 15 mile canyon with peaks up to 2,100 feet.

The grassy margins of ponds and lakes, and many miles of rivers and streams, are important breeding habitat for waterfowl, including ducks, geese, swans and cranes. King and chum salmon, northern pike, and one of only three resident sheefish populations in Alaska can be found in the Wild and Scenic Nowitna River. Arctic grayling are in most clear water streams on the refuge. Forested lowlands give rise to mature white spruce habitat that provides valuable cover and den sites for marten, furbearers that are important to the trapping economy for local residents. Moose, wolves, lynx, wolverine, black and grizzly bear range throughout the refuge. 

Our Mission

We use our understanding of the respect, value, and love of this place by the people who live in, use, or simply treasure this wild land and sound biological research and monitoring to ensure proper stewardship of the Koyukuk, Northern Unit Innoko, and Nowitna National Wildlife Refuges.

Congress established Nowitna Refuge in 1980 when it enacted the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. According to this legislation, the purposes for which the refuge was established and shall be managed include: conserving fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity including, but not limited to, trumpeter swans, white-fronted geese, canvasbacks and other waterfowl and migratroy birds, moose, caribou, martens, wolverines and other furbearers, salmon, sheefish, and northern pike; fulfilling the international treaty obligations of the United States with respect to fish and wildlife and their habitats; providing in a manner consistent with the purposes set forth in subparagraphs (i) and (ii), the opportunity for continued subsistence uses by local residents; and ensuring water quality and necessary water quantity within the refuge.