The Portage Valley BioBlitz is over. (Check out the pictures) The weather wasn’t beautiful-there was some pretty windy and rainy weather Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning-but if there is one thing that Alaskans are-it’s hardy. The bad weather didn’t keep people from heading out to Portage to watch one the 30 presentations that were offered or going outside to be part of a survey team.

The survey teams had great success cataloging the Valley’s biodiversity. The current number of species observed is 385. Here is the breakdown:

  • Fungi-15
  • Plants-243
  • Aquatic Invertebrates-21 (and still counting)
  • Terrestrial Invertebrates-55
  • Birds-33
  • Fish-5
  • Bats-1

Thanks to everyone that came out.

Here are a few pictures from the event-check back again-we will be adding more as they come in.

The Get Outdoors, Alaska Facebook page has some great pictures and video of the BioBlitz

Pouring in Portage

It might be raining in Portage, but we are still out surveying the Valley for flora and fauna. We are here until noon doing surveys and programs rain or not! Here are just a few highlights of our species counts 186 differents types of vegetation, 305 Dolly Varden, 12 sculpin, 250 Coho, moose, bear, porcupine, dragonfly nymphs, and of course a few iceworms!

We are up and running. Portage Valley has been a blur of plants, feathers, fur, fins, fungi, and crawly things! We kicked it off at noon, Glacier District Ranger Tim Charnon started us off and Smokey and Woodsy tried to teach everyone the “BioBlitz” Boogie.

Survey teams have been out and back all day and we have some preliminary species sitings and numbers and we will be updating them this evening and tomorrow morning. The BioBlitz programs were extremely popular and well-attended. Here is a teaser, 128 Rainbow Trout were counted!

While the bad weather stayed away for most of the day-it has finally arrived. Bad weather or not we are still in the thick of surveys and programs until noon on Sunday. Check out our updated schedule.


Two more days until the Portage Valley BioBlitz! I hope you are ready. I can’t wait. There are an amazing amount of surveys and programs planned. A big THANKS to all the partners and volunteers working on the BioBlitz! Check out all the programs and head on down to Portage Valley for all the fun.


Check out the list of scheduled surveys and other events. Here is an updated  Survey Schedule or you can download the Final Overview Schedule here.

In addition to the surveys, here is a description in of the educational programs that will be available (also listed on the survey pages).

BioBlitz Programming – July 23rd, 2011

12:00-12:30pm – Aquatic Invertebrates – Everything from Insects to Diatoms

Learn what aquatic invertebrates can tell us about the quality of our water and how to identify some common aquatic invertebrates. Following the presentation, travel a UAA Aquatic Ecologist to an in-stream BioBlitz study site to learn how to sample aquatic invertebrates and what sorts of organisms are present in the Portage Valley watershed. Meet in the Portage Valley Learning Center.

12:30-1:00pm – In Search of Small Animals with 0-100 Legs

US Fish and Wildlife Service Entomologist, Matt Bowser, will present a brief overview of the terrestrial invertebrates of Southcentral Alaska. Immediately following the presentation, join Matt for a survey of these creatures in Portage Valley. This survey is open to all ages and participation by children is encouraged as they tend to be some of the best insect collectors! Meet in the Portage Valley Learning Center.

1:00-2:30pm – “Kids Blitz” of Water Insects

Anchorage Waterways Council will show intrepid young scientists how neat and helpful water insects (benthic macroinvertebrates) are to ecosystems.  Find out if these critters can predict how clean or dirty our creeks and rivers are, learn where to find them, and what keeps them healthy for our fish (as food).  All you need is an inquisitive mind, a good pair of boots, and we’ll help with the rest.  We’ll collect specimens outside, and then return to BioBlitz headquarters to sort and categorize them for the next hour or so. Meet at the BioBlitz yurt outside the building before heading to Portage Creek.

1:00-1:30pm – Small Mammals…in Big Places

Although small mammals are often overlooked, they play pivotal roles in ecosystems and can form the foundation of the biological community. Despite their small stature, small mammals must contend with the same extreme environmental conditions that the largest animals do. Learn which small mammals typically occur in Southcentral Alaska, and how biologists survey, study, and capture these fascinating little animals. Following the presentation, volunteers will travel to one of the active small mammal trapping survey locations, and find out who is running around. Meet in the Portage Valley Learning Center.

2:00-3:00pm – “Petra” the Bald Eagle – a LIVE presentation

The Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage is dedicated to rehabilitating sick, injured or orphaned wild birds. “Petra” is a successful and stately example of one of these birds. Her handler, Lisa Pajot, will be discussing physiology, behavior and the role of the Bald Eagle in the Alaskan ecosystem. Meet at the Portage Valley Learning Center.

3:00-5:00pm – Ice Worm Safari

Are iceworms real? This guided hike is approximately one mile to the snow fields of Byron Glacier. Along the way, prepare to explore the glacially carved habitat of one of the most rare and unique creatures on earth…the iceworm! This is an easy hike, with very little elevation gain. Meet Forest Service ranger, Julie Buehler, at the Byron Glacier Trailhead.

3:00-4:00pm – “Galen” the Great Horned Owl – a LIVE presentation

Who… who…who… can locate an owl in Portage Valley? We guarantee you will see at least one and his name is “Galen!” Galen is from the Bird Treatment and Learning Center and his handler, Lisa Pajot will be discussing physiology, behavior and the role of the Great Horned Owl in the Alaskan ecosystem. Meet at the Portage Valley Learning Center.

4:00-5:00pm – “Kids Blitz” Tree Identification Hike

Calling all Junior Forest Rangers! The Chugach National Forest is famous for glaciers and mountains and the trees that flourish amidst them. Journey with a USFS interpreter to investigate the different species of trees found in Portage Valley. This will be a “mini survey” open to kids of all ages, but we will produce “full size” results that will be included in the official tally! Meet the interpreter at the flagpoles outside the building.

4:00-5:30pm – Wildlife Detectives: Tracks and Scat

Biologists often rely on animal signs such as scat and tracks to study wildlife. In this session, ADF&G and Alaska Zoo educators will cover the basics of animal tracking and how biologists use scat, tracks and animal hair in their studies. Be prepared to do some hands-on exploring and detective work. Open to “young detectives” of all ages; meet at the Portage Valley Learning Center.

5:00-5:30pm – Sensational Salmon

Life in Alaska rides on the backs of salmon. Almost everything in this state is impacted in one way or another by this remarkable fish. Join Forest Service rangers Josie Murphy and Brent Ramsay as they explore the intricate, astonishing, and far-reaching life cycle of the Alaskan salmon. Meet at the Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform.

5:00-5:30 – The Wood Frog – Alaska’s Most Amazing Amphibian

The wood frog is the only amphibian present throughout most of Alaska, and it is the only amphibian found north of the Arctic Circle in North America. Learn about this amazing animal and how it can survive some of the harshest winters on the planet – where no other amphibian has a chance. Also, learn how to conduct amphibian surveys and, most importantly, how you (or your family, class, or school) can help biologists study this amazing but poorly understood animal by becoming Citizen Scientists. Meet at the Portage Valley Learning Center.

6:00-7:00 – Fabulous Fungi

Join mushroom enthusiast, Diane Pleninger, as she explores the basics of fungi, where they can be found, and their integral role in a healthy ecosystem. She will also discuss the cultivation, edibility, industrial applications, folklore, and other aspects of the “fabulous fungi” found on the Chugach National Forest. Diane’s style is informal and she whole-heartily welcomes audience questions and contributions to the discussion. Meet in the Portage Valley Learning Center.

7:00-8:00pm – Prepared Predators of Portage

“The Great Land” is home to bears and wolves, coyotes and lynx. What does it mean to have top predators in an ecosystem? How do these critters affect the ecosystem as a whole? Find out the answers to these questions and learn more about the top predators of Portage Valley. Meet at the Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform

6:00-8:00pm – Ice Worm Safari

The poet, Robert Service said that “their bellies were a bilious blue, their eyes a bulbous red” and that they were “four inches from its tail-tip to its snout.” Could this possibly be true? Meet Forest Service ranger, Carolyn Seramur, at the Byron Glacier Trailhead for an evening hike to find out for sure! The hike is approximately one mile to the snow fields of Byron Glacier. This is an easy hike, with very little elevation gain. 

7:00-7:45 – Mysterious Bats of Alaska.

Very little is known about bats in the 49th state. Join ADF&G biologist, Marian Snively, to learn which species are present, and how are bats being studied in Alaska.  Most importantly, learn how you can help scientists study the mysterious bats of Alaska. Meet at the Portage Valley Learning Center.

8:00-8:30pm – Alien Encounters – of the Vegetative Kind

Join Peter Johnson, member of the Glacier Ranger District Ecology crew, as he takes an in-depth look at invasive species that endanger our native vegetation.  Peter will describe the characteristics and identify what invasive species are and what action to take.  He will also express the impact that non-native plants can have on the ecosystem and its inhabitants, which includes all of us. After the presentation, travel with Peter outside for a visual lesson on what plants SHOULD be here and also for a volunteer opportunity to remove a few alien invaders around the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center. Meet in the Portage Valley Learning Center.

10:00-11:00pm – Bats in the Land of the Midnight Sun

Can we find bats in the Portage Valley even though the sun barely sets this time of year? Discover the answer during this bat monitoring session, led by Chugach National Forest Supervisor, Terri Marceron. Meet Terri at the Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform.

11:00pm-11:30am – Owls – Hunters of the Night

Not all birds are active by day. Owls make their living at night and can’t be surveyed by traditional methods that biologists use for other birds. Learn about these amazing nocturnal birds and how biologists perform surveys for these rarely seen hunters of the night. Following the presentation, volunteers will form a survey team lead by USFS Biologist, Jessica Ilse, and will conduct an owl playback survey along the Trail of Blue Ice. Meet at the Williwaw Fish Viewing Platform.

Sunday July 24th, 2011

 8:30am-9am – Bird Karaoke and Other Ways to Learn Bird Songs

Mystified by people who can identify birds by sound? Audubon Alaska’s Beth Peluso will help you explore some simple tricks to help you experience, learn, and remember, which birds make which sounds. Dress for both indoors and outdoors. Meet at the Portage Valley Learning Center before heading outside.

10:00am-11:00am –Nature Kids

 Don’t let your kids suffer from “Nature Deficit Disorder!” Come out and learn about gardening with children and using your backyard, local park or forest to get to know some of the most common plants that you will see in Alaska. Did you know dirt made your lunch?! Meet at the Portage Valley Learning Center.

11:00am-12:00pm – “Ghost” the Snowy Owl – a LIVE presentation

Cloaked in a downy white robe, “Ghost,” will swoop in for a visit with his handler, Dave Dorsey. Come meet this “king of the arctic” and join him on a journey to discover his life in Alaska, and his recovery at Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage. Meet at the Portage Valley Learning Center.


BioBlitz Details

Here are a few housekeeping details for the BioBlitz. The starting point for information about surveys or presentations is our information booth at the Portage Valley Learning Center (PVLC). We will either be outside the Learning Center if the weather is nice (cross your fingers) and if the weather is bad right inside the doors. The Learning Center is to the left of the main entrance of the Visitor Center.

The surveys and presentations are all free of charge. Food and lodging are not provided. Camping is available at Black Bear and Williwaw Campground in the Valley. Reservations can be made by calling 1-877-444-6777 or at http://www.recreation.gov. The Portage Valley Cafe and Gallery has food for purchase and are open from 9:00 am  to 7:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

The first BioBlitz to take place in southcentral Alaska is less than a month from now! Plans are shaping up for 24 hours of scientific fun and craziness. In addition to all the taxon surveys, we have a full schedule of science activities, lectures, and demonstrations. Portage Valley will be abuzz with discovery on July 23-24 from noon to noon.

Ahh! The mysterious leaf.

On July 23 & 24 Chugach National Forest and Alaska Department of Fish & Game-Diversity Program will bring you southcentral Alaska’s first BioBlitz. 2011 is the International Year of Forests and coincidentally (or not) we will join the ranks of BioBlitzes held around the world. On July 23 & 24 Portage Valley, part of the Chugach Children’s Forest, will ring with the sounds of naturalists, biologists and citizen scientists scouring the landscape for local flora and fauna. This is the official web log for the 2011 Portage Valley BioBlitz and all the information you need will be posted here!