Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is a place of great distances and greater
dramas. Here winds whip through the grasses of rugged, wave-pounded islands;
and active volcanoes simmer, venting steam above collars of fog. It is a place
of contrasts, where relics of a past war slowly rust in deserted valleys, while,
nearby, great forests of kelp team with life.
It is, and has long been, a place
of refuge, and has seen some of the most dramatic wildlife conservation
stories in our nation's history. Containing some of the first conservation-unit
to be established in America, today's Alaska Maritime National Wildlife
Refuge includes lands that were formerly parts of ten previously established
Many of these units are still represented among the ten distinct congressionally-designated
Wilderness areas included in Alaska Maritime, which range in size from
the approximately 1.3 million acre Aleutian Islands Wilderness to the
32 acre Hazy Islands Wilderness.
Because it is spread out along most of the 47,300
miles of Alaska's coastline, the sheer span of this refuge is difficult
to grasp. Its more than 2,500
islands, islets, spires, rocks, reefs, waters and headlands extend
from Forrester Island,
to the north of Canada's Queen Charlotte Islands deep in the southeast
tongue of the state, to the westernmost tip of the Aleutians (and of
north to Cape Lisburne on the Arctic Ocean. Traveling between its farthest-flung
points would be the equivalent of taking a trip from Georgia to California.
No other maritime National Wildlife Refuge in America is as large or
Alaska Maritime's seashore lands provide nesting habitat for approximately
40 million seabirds, or about 80% of Alaska's nesting seabird population
than half of the nesting seabirds in America).