In the autumn of 2010, I discovered a job opening listed by way of USAJobs, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at a location in Soldotna, Alaska. I used to be working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C., as a services analyst.
Having spent over 24 years working within the jail methods at places throughout the nation and in varied services administration positions, the chance to get out of Washington, D.C., to Alaska was attractive.
At the time, I had no information of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had by no means heard of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and had no thought tips on how to pronounce Soldotna. So, I known as a buddy who may be very accustomed to the Kenai Peninsula, Kenai River and Soldotna. When I requested in regards to the Fish and Wildlife Service, he commented, “They are the Feds over fins, feathers and fur.”
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is, “Working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish (fins), wildlife (feathers and fur), plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”
My buddy’s description may also embrace hearth, in recognition of the Funny River, Card Street and Swan Lake fires over the previous few years, and mates, as a nod to our many customer actions, campgrounds and trails.
Yet, the descriptor of fins, feathers, fur, hearth and mates nonetheless fails to acknowledge an important and barely acknowledged element of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. While we would use the time period “facilities,” most would extra readily acknowledge the time period “maintenance.”
As I enterprise across the peninsula, significantly when carrying my FWS uniform, I’m typically requested about fishing or searching laws, when the salmon will arrive, or if a specific campground is open.
The public’s affiliation with FWS upkeep appears to be typically about street circumstances, outhouses that must be cleaned and boat ramps that aren’t as clean because the freeway. There is way more.
Yearly, 1000’s of tourists to the Kenai Peninsula go to Kenai National Wildlife Refuge services. Our customer middle gives a unbelievable overview of the highlights of the peninsula. The adjoining headquarters constructing has workplace area for a bunch of employees and the middle for permits and varied analysis actions.
The close by Environmental Education Center may be very acquainted to numerous college kids and households who take part within the many instructional applications. However, unseen and barely talked about are the over 30 extra buildings which are a part of the refuge, from seasonal housing to workplace, analysis and warehouse area.
Each constructing serves a function and must be maintained. For instance, mild bulbs burn out, dripping sinks want restore and there are bogs to unplug. In addition, flooring require cleansing, partitions want portray and damaged home windows have to get mounted. These duties and lots of others are the accountability of the upkeep employees on the refuge.
While I take my pickup to a restore store for a tire or oil change, all of that is completed in our auto store on the refuge. A fleet of over 40 pickups and SUVs want common upkeep to maintain the various employees shifting to their diversified tasks.
Dump vehicles, loaders, graders, skid steers, forestry cutters, boats, snowmachines and ATVs all have a function on the refuge. We keep greater than 30 miles of roads throughout the summer time season, plus the related parking areas and campground accesses.
We plow an extra 22 miles of roads within the winter months, together with entry to the airport runway from our airplane hangar. We can’t overlook the truth that each bit of kit used to keep up all our services additionally wants common upkeep by the refuge upkeep employees.
Since 2014, three main fires have considerably altered the refuge’s panorama. Charred and downed bushes are reminders of the fires, however a much less seen result’s the influence on drainage and the upkeep that requires.
Specifically, because the 2019 Swan Lake hearth, modifications within the panorama and soil circumstances coupled with massive quantities of snow and early thaw resulted in vital erosion and harm to Mystery Creek Road and the entry roads to Kelly, Engineer and Skilak lakes.
As a end result, the refuge upkeep workforce has put in new culverts, constructed drainage channels and rebuilt the respective roads.
I don’t anticipate folks stopping me round city to ask questions relative to my upkeep duties, and I’ll proceed to do my greatest to reply questions regarding these elements of fish and wildlife that I do know little about.
However, in case your youngsters search a terrific job future on the refuge however flip up their nostril on the suggestion to pursue a profession in biology or wildlife administration, maybe they may need to develop into a heavy tools operator, mechanic, electrician, carpenter or custodian. They may discover a rewarding profession at one of many many areas of the National Wildlife Refuge System positioned all through the nation.
Remember, somebody is liable for sustaining all of the roads you drive, buildings you go to and campgrounds you’re keen on. And, although we want it, the outhouses don’t clear themselves. At the refuge, all of us have a component in conserving the fins, feathers and furs, a few of us much less straight however equally important. I, for one, am glad that a spot I as soon as hadn’t imagined is one I now take delight in sustaining.
Clif Peterson is the Facilities Operation Specialist on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. To discover extra Refuge Notebook Articles https://www.fws.gov/kenai-refuge-notebook or discover us on Facebook https://www.fb.com/kenainationalwildliferefuge