A natural resource manager with the National Park Service will take over as superintendent of Katmai National Park and Preserve in November.

Since 2012, Mark Sturm, 49, has worked as the biological resource program manager for the National Park Service's Intermountain Region. That work has included projects involving bears, wolves, bison, elk and bighorn sheep as well as fisheries studies in the Colorado River.

At 5,700 square miles, Katmai is the fourth largest national park — in both the country and Alaska — behind only Wrangell-St. Elias, Gates of the Arctic and Denali in terms of acreage. It may be best known for the brown bears that feast on salmon returned to the Brooks River to the delight of wildlife watchers, and for the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, created by the 1912 eruption of Novarupta Volcano.

Strum, a former Peace Corps volunteer, earned his master's degree in wildlife biology and management from State University of New York.

"I've wanted to work in the Alaska parks for a long time, and going to Katmai is something I am very excited about," Sturm said.

Alaska Peninsula caribou hunt extended

Another Alaska caribou hunting season has been extended by Department of Fish and Game biologists.

Poor success by hunters seeking caribou in the northern Alaska Peninsula Game Management Units 9C and 9E led to the extension. The hunt reopened Wednesday and will continue until Sept. 30.

Previously, hunts of Nelchina caribou were also extended due to that herd's booming population.

Only 23 caribou were reported harvested in the Alaska Peninsula areas even though 200 permits were issued.

"Hunters are concerned about low harvest and lost opportunity due to the herd not being in the accessible hunt areas," Dave Crowley, an state biologist based in King Salmon, said in a press release. "This season's extension is intended to benefit residents should caribou make a tardy arrival onto traditional hunting grounds before the onset of the rut."

Fish and Game is reminding hunters to submit their permit reports to the department.

Twin Peaks Trail race debuts

Add another thigh-burning race to Alaska's collection of gut-busting mountain races. The first Mountain Rescue Challenge is a 5-kilometer race up the Twin Peaks Trail, starting near Eklutna Lake at 10 a.m. on Oct. 1.

East Twin Peak is 5,783 feet at the summit; West Twin is 5,472. The race, limited to 100 competitors, ascends to the second bench. well short of either summit. According to the website Alaska Hike Search , "the trail switchbacks steeply uphill, offering better and better views of Eklutna Lake … You can get to 5,000 feet without not too much difficulty."

The race, with a $50 entry fee, is a fundraiser for the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group.  A companion Edlu Bena Loop 5-K fun run and walk starts at the same time; it's $25 for individuals and $50 for a family.

"I think it's a moderate challenge," said Eric Huffman of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group. "I'm assuming the top racers will be able to run it."

Brown bears feasting on salmon at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park.  The spectacle is the most-popular attraction of the national park, the fourth largest in the country.
Brown bears feasting on salmon at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park.  The spectacle is the most-popular attraction of the national park, the fourth largest in the country.

Celebrate public lands in Anchorage

Several events are planned for Saturday in Anchorage as Alaskans celebrate National Public Lands Day. Alaska has more than 300 million acres of public land, far more than any other state. Among the events:

* Campbell Creek Science Center, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, is hosting a 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. festival that will include several service projects. Visitors can check out stations highlighting science learning and outdoor skills and will include orienteering, geocaching, a placer mining obstacle course and live birds and mammals.

* Volunteers, including Alaska Geographic staffers, will help Chugach State Park staffers with maintenance on the Middle Fork Trail.

* Trail maintenance and wilderness demonstrations begin at 10 a.m. at Davis Park in Anchorage.