The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is the smallest ( 315,000 acres) and one of the most ecologically unique of Alaska's refuges. Most of the refuge (300,000 acres)was designated as Wilderness in 1980 under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. This diverse wilderness protects a wide variety of fish and wildlife species and their habitats. These include five species of salmon; furbearers such as wolf, fox and wolverine; large mammals such as caribou, moose and brown bears; shorebirds; seabirds; and an incredible array of waterfowl, to name just a few. Salmon returns to natal streams fuel this coastal ecosystem during the summer and fall. This rich fishery provides quality forage for coastal brown bears and other predators. The Southern Alaska Peninsula Caribou Herd (5,400 animals in 2002) also inhabits the Refuge. Several species of marine mammals either inhabit or pass through Refuge coastal waters and lagoons. These include harbor seal, sea otter, walrus, the threatened Stellar's sea lion, and gray, minke, killer and humpback whales. At the heart of the Refuge is the 150-square mile Izembek Lagoon. The lagoon and its associated state-owned tidal lands have been protected by the State of Alaska since 1960 as the Izembek State Game Refuge. Here, shallow, brackish water covers one of the world's largest beds of eelgrass, creating a rich feeding and resting area for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl. Virtually the entire population of Pacific black brant (150,000 birds on average), Taverner's Canada goose (55,000), and emperor goose (6,000) inhabit the lagoon each fall. Approximately 23,000 threatened Steller's eiders also molt, rest, and feed at Izembek each autumn.
Refuge headquarters is located in Cold Bay, Alaska. This is a small, remote, community of fewer than 100 people, and is accessible only by air or water. The Alaska Marine Ferry System serves Cold Bay with one ship per month from April through October. Peninsula Airways (PenAir) serves Cold Bay with daily round-trip flights from Anchorage. From Cold Bay, there is limited vehicle access to the Refuge via 5 primary gravel or dirt roads, totaling about 40 miles (portions of these require 4-wheel drive). Aircraft or boats are required for access elsewhere within the refuge. PenAir will fly visitors to remote villages. Off-airport air taxi operators and boat charters are limited. Contact the Refuge for the latest information. The refuge administrative office is located approximately one-half mile northeast of the Cold Bay airport terminal. Modest rental vehicles are available from a local entrepreneur. A small grocery store, motel, lodge and a couple B&B's are open year round.
1 Izembek Street P.O. Box 127 Cold Bay, AK 99571
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FWS - Fish and Wildlife Service