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Major Land Resource Area 237X

Ahklun Mountains

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The Ahklun Mountains Major Land Resource Area (MLRA 237) is located in western Alaska (fig. 1). Covering approximately 14,555 square miles, this MLRA includes the mountains, hills, and valleys of the Kilbuck Mountains in the north and the Ahklun Mountains in the south. With the exception of the Kilbuck Mountains and the highest ridges of the Ahklun Mountains, this MLRA was extensively glaciated during the Pleistocene (Kautz et al., 2004). Today, a few small glaciers persist in mountainous cirques (Gallant et al., 1995). The present-day landscape and landforms reflect this glacial history, with glacial moraines and drift covering much of the area (USDA-NRCS, 2006). The MLRA landscape is primarily defined by low, steep rugged mountains cut by narrow-to-broad valleys. Flood plains and terraces of varying sizes are common at lower elevations in valley bottoms. Glacially carved valleys host many lakes. Togiak Lake is one of the largest lakes in the region, measuring 13 miles long and about 9,500 acres in size. Major rivers include the Goodnews, Togiak, Kanektok, Osviak, Eek, and Arolik. Where the Goodnews and Togiak rivers reach the coast, the nearly-level to rolling deltas support numerous small lakes. This MLRA has two distinct climatic zones: subarctic continental and maritime continental (fig. 2). High elevation areas are considered subarctic continental, which have annual precipitation over 75 inches and mean annual temperatures below -3°C in extreme locations. Warmer, dryer areas at lower elevations are maritime continental. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 20 to 50 inches and mean annual temperature ranges from -0.2°C to 1.2°C (PRISM). This climate zone is influenced by both maritime and continental factors. Summer temperatures are moderated by the open waters of the Bering Sea, while winter temperatures are more continental in nature due to the presence of sea ice (Western Regional Climate Center, 2017). Seasonal sea ice reaches its southernmost extent off the coast of Alaska in Bristol Bay (Alaska Climate Research Center, 2017). The western Alaskan coast is also influenced by high winds from strong storms and from air masses in the Interior region (Hartmann, 2002). The Ahklun Mountains MLRA is principally undeveloped wilderness. Federally managed lands include the Togiak and Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuges. While sparsely populated, this area contains several communities, including Togiak, Manokotak, Twin Hills and Goodnews Bay. The largest village is Togiak, with a population of approximately 855 predominantly Yup’ik Alaska Natives (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016). Major land uses include subsistence activities (fishing, hunting, and gathering) and wildlife recreation (USDA-NRCS, 2006; Kautz et al., 2004).

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