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Becharof National Wildlife Refuge  

Becharof National Wildlife Refuge

Protecting a 1,157,000-acre slice of some of the finest salmon spawning grounds in Alaska, Becharof National Wildlife Refuge lies due south of Katmai National Park and Preserve on the Alaska Peninsula. This vast refuge encompasses a range of terrains, from rugged coastlines and the 4,835-foot summit of the Mt. Peulik volcano to tundra uplands, braided, glacier-fed rivers and saw-toothed mountain ranges.

The refuge contains virtually the entire watershed surrounding Becharof Lake, the second largest lake in Alaska and the largest in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Spread over 300,000 acres, the lake is 35 miles long, 15 miles wide and serves as a nursery for the world's second largest run of sockeye salmon with an estimated six million adult salmon returning to Bristol Bay each year.

Like its northern neighbor, Katmai, Becharof is famed for large populations of brown bears whose rich diet of salmon allow males to reach 1,400 pounds in size and stand more than 10 feet tall. As many as 300 bears congregate in the eastern portion of the refuge when the salmon run begins in June. All five species of Pacific salmon spawn in the refuge. Other wildlife includes moose, caribou, wolf, wolverine, fox, river otter and beaver while along the coast are thriving populations of sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and migratory whales.

The Becharof Refuge offers a variety of recreational opportunities with the most popular being sport fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing and photography and to a lesser extent flightseeing, backpacking, boating and camping.

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