The Kodiak Brown Bear Trust (formally known as the “Kodiak Brown Bear Research and Habitat Maintenance Trust”) was established in 1981 as part of a Settlement Agreement to mitigate potential impacts on brown bears caused by construction and operation of the Terror Lake Hydroelectric Project, on northern Kodiak Island. The Terror Lake project consisted of a dam, reservoir and tunnel in the Terror River drainage within the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, as well as a penstock, power generation station, and power lines in Kizhuyak and Buskin River drainages adjacent to the Refuge. The project was designed to provide a reliable, renewable source of electricity to communities on northeastern Kodiak Island.
In addition to the initial $500,000 investment in the Trust, the Settlement Agreement also provided for bear research during and after construction of the project, on-site bear safety monitoring and protocols, and reservation of State-owned land on the Shearwater Peninsula on eastern Kodiak Island to be managed consistent to adjacent Refuge lands.
The Trust is managed by four volunteer Trustees, with seats set aside for representatives of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Kodiak Electric Association, the State of Alaska, and the three national conservation groups involved in the Settlement (National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund). Established by-laws govern the selection of Trustees, activities of the Board, and investment and use of Trust funds. The Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (EIN 92-0111511) that relies on tax-deductible contributions and conservative investments of fund assets to maintain viability and carry out its mission.
Trustees annually provide grants to agencies, organizations, or individuals who present proposals that promote conservation of brown bears and their habitat on the Kodiak Archipelago through research, management, education/outreach, and habitat protection projects. Grant applications are evaluated based on relevance to the Trust’s mission, scientific rigor, practicality, cost effectiveness, and participation of cooperators.
Since its inception, the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust has collaborated with multiple partners to invest more than $1.3 million in bear conservation throughout the Kodiak archipelago and worldwide, while maintaining a fund balance equal or exceeding the original investment.
Initially, the Trust invested in basic research projects focused on understanding Kodiak bear population status and life history. Settlements associated with the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) provided opportunities in the 1990’s and early 2000’s for the Trust to leverage its investments by partnering with the EVOS Trust to acquire important bear habitat from willing sellers, primarily Native Corporations, and donate those lands to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. While this strategy successfully protected hundreds of thousands of acres from human development, it depleted the fund balance significantly. In the early 2000’s, Trustees opted to forego expenditures on land acquisition and focus funding critical bear research, management, and outreach programs while working to rebuild the balance of the fund to its original corpus ($500,000) and maintain it at least at that level into the future.
Paul, a resident of Alaska since 1980, is owner/operator of Kodiak Outdoor Adventures, Inc. He is also a commercial fisherman and a contractor. He is a strong advocate for helping manage the resource and is chairman of the Kodiak Unified Bear Subcommittee and the Kodiak Fish and Game Advisory Committee. Paul lives in Kodiak, Alaska.
Mike has been the Refuge Manager at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge since 2017. He began his career with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1994 working on Refuges in Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Massachusetts, California and Alaska. In addition to Kodiak, Mike was the Deputy Refuge Manager at Alaska Peninsula and Becharof NWRs in King Salmon, AK. He presently resides on Kodiak.
Stosh has lived in Alaska since 1969 and has worked as a commercial fisherman, a maintenance foreman, and as an aircraft bush pilot. He has been active on numerous industry, government, conservation, and regulatory boards, including being a current board member on the Kodiak Electric Association. Stosh’s home is Kodiak, Alaska.
Jen moved to Alaska in 1990, and has worked as a park ranger for 24 years and three agencies, including US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and finally with Alaska State Parks in Kodiak in 2003. She’s lived in Kodiak ever since, and currently owns and runs an air charter (Kodiak Air Service) and wildlife guide service (Kodiak Island Expeditions) with her husband. Through these businesses she shares her passion for “educating the public about our natural resources and the critical need to preserve habitat for apex species such as the brown bear.”
Larry came to Alaska in 1977 and started work with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in 1981 after earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in wildlife management. During his 34-year career with ADF&G he was the area wildlife biologist in Dillingham and in Kodiak, spent time as a Regional Supervisor in Anchorage, and earned a PhD focused on the management of Kodiak brown bears. He served 2 terms on the Alaska Board of Game after retirement. As a member of the IUCN North Asian Brown Bear Expert Team, Larry has made numerous trips to Scandinavia, Japan, and the Russian Far East working with colleagues to improve bear management and our understanding of how bears and people can co-exist. He lives in Kodiak.