Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

This preserve contains the land bridge that once connected Asia with North America over 13,000 years ago

Located on the Seward Peninsula in northwest Alaska, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. Bering Land Bridge National preserve protects a small remnant of the 1,000 mile (1,609 km) wide grassland that connected Asia and North America during the last Ice Age. The majority of this land bridge, once thousands of miles wide, now lies beneath the waters of the Chukchi and Bering Seas.

History

This wilderness preserve sprawls across the northern Seward Peninsula and was named for the land link that connected Alaska and Asia during the last Ice Age when sea levels were about 300 feet lower than today. Most archaeologists agree that it was across this Bering Land Bridge, also called Beringia, that humans first passed from Asia to populate the Americas some 10,000 years ago. Plants, animals, and people followed herds of large mammals (many of them now extinct) to hunt for food and shelter across Beringia until the bridge flooded.

Considering the depth of its historical relevance and natural diversity, the preserve was established as a National Preserve on December 2, 1980. This designation enables the land to be federally protected, but also utilized for public hunting, gathering, trapping, fishing, and subsistence use.

Ecosystem

Encompassing 2.7 million acres of tundra, mountains, lakes, and seashores, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve has a rich diversity of offerings for those wishing to experience the raw, wild nature of Alaska's far northwestern ecosystems. Its western boundary lies 42 miles from the Bering Strait and the fishing boundary between the United States and Russia. Only 70 miles from the Siberian mainland, the preserve ranges from the wet-tundra flatlands along the coast to the rolling, treeless uplands and the Bendeleben Mountains in the central section of the peninsula, the northernmost extension of the continental divide. In summertime the tundra is vibrant with color and plant life, home to over 300 species of vascular plants, including wildflowers, berries, small trees and shrubs. There are also several hundred more mosses, fungi and lichens that survive year round.

Wildlife

The Seward Peninsula is the crossroads of the Asiatic-North American flyway, providing ample opportunity to spot more than 100 species of migratory birds, as well as hawks and eagles. Brown bear, caribou, musk ox, moose, Arctic fox and wolverine also take up residence in the preserve. Along the coast, visitors can spot bearded, hair and ribbon seals, walrus and humpback, fin and bowhead whales.

More than 170 known species of birds migrate 20,000 miles yearly to Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. At the crossroad of the Asiatic-North America flyway, this area offers rare opportunities to observe several old world species.

Activities

The land category of national preserves was established primarily for the protection of subsistence resources. Activities such as sport hunting and trapping are permitted in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and other preserves. There are no roads into Bering Land Bridge, so travel opportunities can be limited. The most common access is by snowmobile, small airplane, boat, or on foot. There are 5 shelter cabins, some left by Gold Miners, in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and many natives and visitors still use them today. Other popular activities include wildlife viewing, hiking and bird-watching. Visitors can also revel in a day spent at Serpentine Hot Springs, where the day can be spent hiking among the huge granite tors which encircle the area, and the night can be devoted to soaking in the hot springs.

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