Alaska Peninsula/Becharof National Wildlife Refuge Green Team
Recycling & Waste/Pollution Prevention, Fish and Wildlife Service, King Salmon, Alaska
Daryle Lons, Refuge Manager
Alaska Peninsula/Becharof National Wildlife Refuge is 300 miles southwest of Anchorage and is accessible only by sea (5 months per year) or by air. Most demolition materials are not recycled in Alaska because there is no local market. Hazardous materials are barged or shipped out of King Salmon on cargo planes. These cost challenges result in expensive recycling activities and are only practical with communitywide participation and reduced prices to transport recycled material. Despite these challenges, Refuge management and staff have made it a priority to be green. They researched and purchased solar panels to power generators for radio communication systems, lights, computers, and other electronic equipment. The solar panes are so efficient, dependable, and effective that Refuge staff replaced all propane lights and gas lanterns with them. Refuge staff obtains green products like energy-efficient light bulbs, nontoxic cleaning solvents, retread tires, biodegradable plastic trash bags. and recycled paper products. They supply green products to their janitorial service to clean the office. For example, they no longer uses icemelt-type products on walkways; they now use an environmental friendly liquid spray. Buying green products is challenging, since General Service Administration does not offer all of their products in big enough quantities to make shipping to Alaska practical. It’s also challenging to find local recycling opportunities, but they have succeeded there as well. For example, money from the sale of recycled aluminum cans is used to purchase playground equipment for the King Salmon elementary school, and batteries are recycled at a local store.
Alaska Peninsula / Becharof National Wildlife Refuge is located 300 miles southwest of Anchorage. It is accessible only by sea (5 months per year) or by air. The administrative Headquarters site is located in King Salmon, Alaska. The main office is a modern two story facility which sits nearby and within full view of the Naknek River. The Refuge administrative Headquarters is approximately 1/8 mile from the King Salmon Airport. Signs and visitor assistance can be obtained from the King Salmon Interagency Visitor Center (KSIVC) which is adjacent to the airport terminal. Regularly scheduled commercial flights are available between King Salmon and Anchorage (There is no road access to King Salmon or to Refuge boundaries.). It costs $0.50 per pound via barge and $0.88 per pound via air freight to backhaul materials to Anchorage. Most demolition materials are not recycled in Alaska because there is no local market; backhauled materials are routinely barged to the Lower 48. Hazardous materials are barged or shipped out of King Salmon on “cargo” planes. These cost challenges result in expensive recycling activities and are only practical with community-wide participation and reduced rates to transport recycled material.
Orville Lind, Waste Prevention and Recycling Coordinator; Daryle Lons, Refuge Manager; Mark Koepsel, Deputy Refuge Manager; Michelle Franulovich, Park Ranger; Marion Burgraff, Maintenance Worker; Kirstein Heyman, Administrative Technician; Ronald Squibb, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist; Dom Watts, Wildlife Biologist; Susan Savage, Wildlife Biologist; Rosemary Faye, Admin Support Assistant and Dave Cox, Refuge Operations Specialist; have dedicated over 500 staff hours to perform environmental and recycling tasks at the highest possible levels. The Refuge environmental education and interpretation program includes a visitor center, annual environmental outreach at local schools and science camp for high school students as well as other related activities.
Refuge staff members strive to update excellent programs which were established in previous years. They continue to support community recycling efforts and deliver recycled materials to local shippers. In addition to a community-based collection system they also recycle old used fluorescent lights. Operational funds are used to backhaul these materials. Propane heating systems are used at remote field camps to avoid using old gravity feed diesel drip heaters which greatly increase the chance of fuel spills. Propane heaters burn much cleaner and reduce the volume of greenhouse gasses and air pollution. They researched, purchased and installed new improved solar panels as technology has improved them. Field camps no longer use diesel powered generators to supply power for radio communication, computers or other electronic equipment. Solar panels provided all power needs of 12 volt lights and communications systems. They were so efficient, dependable and effective that Refuge staff replaced all propane lights and gas lanterns with them. Used oil is too expensive to backhaul to the Lower 48; however, Refuge staff persuaded the local landfill operator to collect and use all Refuge used oil products to heat their facilities. All liquid fuels in the field are always placed onto containment equipment to prevent accidental spills. A complete spill recovery kit is now part of standard operating procedures at every fueling location throughout the Refuge.
Michelle Franulovich renewed an aluminum can recycling program where Refuge staff periodically collect aluminum cans at numerous locations in King Salmon then consolidate, bag and deliver materials to Alaska Airlines which ships them on back haul flights to Anchorage at no cost. The money from the sale of recycled aluminum cans is used to purchase playground equipment for the King Salmon elementary school. The local general store will recycle all batteries purchased from them. The community landfill will take lead acid batteries for a small fee and ships them to the Lower 48 once a year.
Refuge staff also obtained other green products like energy efficient light bulbs, nontoxic cleaning solvents, retread tires, biodegradable plastic trash bags and recycled paper products. They supply these green products to their janitorial service so less toxic cleansers are used to clean the office. For example, the Refuge no longer uses ice melt type products on walkways; it now uses an environmental friendly liquid spray. Buying green products is challenging since GSA does not offer all of their products in big enough quantities to make shipping to Alaska practical.
Marion Burgraff attended boiler maintenance training. Refuge test equipment allows him to adjust boiler settings to the most fuel efficient use. These settings were previously established only using visual clues which were inaccurate. Class attendees went to the Refuge Headquarters site and worked on a boiler to learn proper cleaning methods.
The Refuge closed this seventy year old bunkhouse and disconnected the heating system. The building is now used only for cold storage. A newer, smaller, more efficient building now provides meet temporary housing needs.
Refuge staff members also participate in a cooperative environmental education and public outreach venture with Katmai / Aniakchak National Park, Monument, and Preserve; Bristol Bay Borough and Lake and Peninsula Boroughs to support the King Salmon Visitor Center at the King Salmon Airport. The KSVC provides information to enhance the experience of thousands of visitors each year, a valuable information resource for the local community.
Refuge information technicians regularly present environmental education programs and materials to classes in nearby schools. The Refuge also holds a five-day residential science camp at the Bible Camp area on Becharof Lake where high-school students from local communities and their biology teachers join Refuge and King Salmon Fish & Wildlife Office staff members and other resource experts to study fishery and wildlife biology and techniques to keep the environment clean and preserved.
A contract to remove vinyl asbestos tile (VAT) flooring is underway in three cabins on the administrative Headquarters site. The project also includes replacing windows in four residences to improve energy efficiency. Efforts like these help ensure Refuge staff members supply and incorporate the best and most practical environmental and recycling programs possible at this remote Alaska Refuge.
U.S. Department of the Interior
Greening of the Interior