What is Beringia?
About 12,000 years ago during the Last Ice Age, the water level of the oceans was lower, exposing land that today is under the Bering and Chukchi Seas. During the glacial epoch this was part of a migration route for people, animals, and plants. Most archeologists agree that it was across this Bering Land Bridge, also called Beringia, that many human populations first passed from Asia to populate the Americas. The preserve's western boundary lies 42 miles from the Bering Strait and the fishing boundary between the United States and Russia.
Beringia still exists today in the people of Northwest Alaska and the Russian Far East. Though they are separated by water the people of these two areas have common language, traditions, and dependence on the same environment.
Established as a national monument in 1978 and then deemed a national preserve in 1980, the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve enforces the culturally significant bond between Russia's and Alaska's shared heritage. BELA also allows scientists and explorers alike to catch a glimpse of the ancient world that the possible first new-world immigrants witnessed.
Did You Know?
A lightning strike ignites a fire in the preserve. The fire burns for a week and then rain puts it out. In about 7 years, a visitor could walk on the burned site having no idea there once was a fire under his or her feet. This speedy site re-vegetation is typical of tundra fire adapted ecosystems.