Becharof National Wildlife Refuge

Becharof National Wildlife Refuge

Featuring an active volcano, unusual geological features, historically significant landmarks and a federally designated wilderness

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.

Ecosystem

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.

Becharof National Wildlife Refuge embraces the largest lake in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Becharof Lake nurtures one of Bristol Bay’s largest sockeye salmon runs, part of the foundation for the regional economy. The Refuge, protecting 1,157,000 acres, also includes an active volcano, unusual geological features, historically significant landmarks, and a federally designated Wilderness.

Becharof Refuge contains many unique geologic and scenic features. Active Mount Peulik emerges from a landscape of volcanic flows, old craters, and hot springs. Nearby Ukinrek Maars mark where groundwater met magma, with explosive results. The tilted layers of the coastal mountains tell silent stories of tectonic activity and ancient life over eons. Glaciers have left their mark in gravelly moraines and scoured mountain basins, while scarps in the lowlands show changes in enormous Becharof Lake’s level over time. From brushy wetlands to snow-pressed alpine vegetation, the Refuge provides pristine habitat to many significant fish and wildlife resources, and offers many subsistence and recreational opportunities.

Wildlife

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.

Activities

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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