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Walrus Refuge Anniversary Celebration


ANCHORAGE - While last year marked the 50th anniversary of Alaska's statehood, this year brings another important anniversary for the state.

In 1960, just one year after achieving statehood, the Alaska Legislature created the first state area set aside for the protection of wildlife. With that action, seven islands in Bristol Bay became the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary, which is now part of an extensive state system of public lands.

This significant event in Alaska's history will be celebrated Saturday June 5, from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. during Potter Marsh Discovery Days at the marsh boardwalk in the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. The public is invited to attend and enjoy the day at Potter Marsh, which will include nature-related activities for all ages.

At the time of statehood, the Pacific walrus population had declined to alarmingly low levels, presumably due to commercial hunting and disturbance at haul-out sites.  The Legislature created the sanctuary to protect the walrus haul-out at Round Island.

Fifty years later, this state sanctuary is one of the flagships for the state's program which has grown to include numerous wildlife refuges, parks, recreation areas, forests, public use areas and other designated sites.

The Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) manages 32 of these special areas, which encompass 3.2 million acres of some of Alaska's most productive fish and wildlife habitats. These areas provide countless opportunities to Alaskans and our visitors for recreational, economic and subsistence activities related to uses of fish and wildlife. 

"Alaska's refuge lands provide a great variety of activities in an array of areas including McNeil River and Stan Price sanctuaries; Palmer Hay Flats, Creamer's Field, Mendenhall Wetlands and Izembek refuges; and Kachemak Bay, Copper River Delta and Clam Gulch critical habitat areas", said Joe Meehan, Lands and Refuges Program Coordinator for ADF&G.

The Potter Marsh Discovery Days event on June 5 will provide many opportunities to share in Alaska's rich wildlife.  Activities will include guided birding stations, activities for kids and adults, an archery practice course, educational birds and mammals from Bird TLC and the Alaska Zoo, a falconry demonstration, a bird migration game, arts and crafts for kids and many other activities.

There will be a release of a rehabilitated wild bald eagle at 3:45pm.

More information on ADF&G's Special Area program may be obtained at www.wildlife.alaska.gov and information on upcoming activities may be obtained from Joe Meehan at (907) 267-2281 or joe.meehan@alaska.gov

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