The Nowitna River originates just south of Sunshine Mountain in the western foothills of the Kuskokwim Mountains and travels approximately 60 river miles to where it enters the Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge and becomes the designated portion of the Nowitna River. The designated reach of the river meanders northward, crossing the entire Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge before emptying into the Yukon River. Ecologically speaking, the Nowitna River is the heart and lifeblood of the Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge. Stream characteristics along the upper, middle, and lower portions of the Nowitna River differ notably, yielding wildlife and habitat diversity, providing scenic variability, enriching various recreational opportunities, and consistently delivering vital subsistence resources to people since prehistoric times. The meandering nature of the river has created highly productive terrestrial and aquatic habitats for fish, waterfowl, furbearers, moose, and other wildlife. Unique limestone bedrock deposits in the river’s headwaters produce nutrient- and carbonate-rich waters that reduce acidity and increase productivity in floodplain wetlands and waterbodies. Along its course, the Nowitna River is dynamic and variable, but remains consistently wild and productive.
December 2, 1980. The segment from the point where the river crosses the west limit of T18S, R22E, Kateel River meridian, to its confluence with the Yukon River within the boundaries of the Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of determining all the “outstandingly remarkable values” of the Nowitna River. Preliminarily, through Comprehensive Conservation Plans and additional agency reviews, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found these values as likely on the river: geology, primitive setting, and wildlife. A process is underway with public involvement in formally identifying and describing the outstanding values of this river. Ongoing planning efforts may further identify or clarify outstandingly remarkable values on this river.