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Biosphere Reserve Information - General Description


General DescriptionEarly Morning View of the Noatak Drainage


Noatak Biosphere Reserve is located in northwestern Alaska in the Arctic Range. Noatak preserve was established in order to maintain the environmental integrity of the Noatak River and adjacent uplands, to protect wildlife habitats and populations and to protect archaeological resources for scientific research.
Vegetation within the biosphere reserve is predominated by low mat tundra with boreal forest cover in the lower Noatak drainage and alpine tundra communities at higher elevations (willow, heather and combinations of grasses, sedges, wildglowers and mosses). Moist tundra community occurs along the foothills of the Noatak Valley (cottongrass, willow, dwarf birch, labrador tea, Lapland rosebay, mountain alder and avens). A spruce forest community (white spruce, paper birch, aspen, poplar and black spruce) is represented sporadically throughout the area.
Wildlife is the primary natural resource of the preserve and include caribou, moose, Dall sheep, grizzly bear, wolf, fox, lynx, marten, beaver and muskrat. The Noatak River is considered key in the subsistence and commercial fisheries harvest for north-west Alaska. The most common fish found in the Noatak River and its tributaries are Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus) and Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus).
Human population of the region is predominantly Inupiat Eskimos who are living mainly in the community of Kotzebue. The economic life in the region continues to be dominated by subsistence use of resources, however commercial fisheries as well as tourism bring income to the residents. The area is considered to have been the gate for human settlement of North America. Its archaeological resources are of great scientific interest.



Last updated: 06/27/2005

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