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ARCTIC: Interpretive Ranger Reaps Rewards for Refuge, Interagency Partners and Natural Resources
Alaska Region, September 13, 2005
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Arctic Refuge strengthened its commitment to interagency partnerships while charting new outreach, interpretation, visitor use management, and habitat protection territory when it staffed the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center (AIVC) with Interpretive Park Ranger, Heather Knudsen. Heather's work at the AIVC marks the first time Arctic Refuge has staffed the facility with a permanent employee! Knudsen recently converted from the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) to a permanent position with the Refuge. In addition to conducting interpretive programs tailored to conservation of arctic ecosystems, Heather answered questions and received feedback about Arctic Refuge visitation, helping to quantify actual visitation rates. She also initiated a monitoring program in Atigun Gorge to assess visitor use and impacts in the vicinity of the Dalton Highway, surveyed for invasive plants, looked for and monitored human-created foot trails, and recorded the number of observed visitors in the Gorge.

Before creating this interpretive position, Refuge staff knew very little about access into the Refuge via the Dalton Highway. As a result of helping alleviate the visitor center's staffing shortage, we better informed the public about Refuge-specific issues and we now also have a better understanding of what occurs on the Refuge where it lies closest to a major road-access point.

During the short visitor season above the Arctic Circle, the AIVC ? the one and only public lands information center north of Fairbanks - serves as a hub of activity in the area. The Department of Interior facility, which inspires visitors with its beauty and thoughtful exhibits, hosts Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) employees. This interagency staff of 10 cooperatively informs the public about arctic ecosystems, lands and cultures. From the facility, the staff also provides one-on-one guidance about wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on the three northern refuges and NPS Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, as well as general information about conditions and attractions along the BLM Dalton Highway corridor. The visitor center, nestled in the foothills of the Brooks Range, is located 260 miles north of Fairbanks in Coldfoot.

For more information about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, please contact Jennifer Reed, Visitor Services Specialist for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, at (907) 455-1835 or Jennifer_Reed@fws.gov.

Photos are available upon request.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov



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