Program United States of
Biosphere Reserve Information - General
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
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.