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KODIAK: Globe TrottingCruise Ship and Ferry PassengersPushes New Visitor Center VisitationBeyond25,000!
Alaska Region, September 30, 2008
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Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in motion(Photo by Kevin G. Smith Photography)
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in motion(Photo by Kevin G. Smith Photography) - Photo Credit: n/a
Summer in downtown Kodiak on a cruise ship day (Photo by Kevin G. Smith Photography)
Summer in downtown Kodiak on a cruise ship day (Photo by Kevin G. Smith Photography) - Photo Credit: n/a
Volunteer Cindy Trussell assists Visitor Services staff during one of Kodiak's 16 cruise ship days. USFWS/Shaw)
Volunteer Cindy Trussell assists Visitor Services staff during one of Kodiak's 16 cruise ship days. USFWS/Shaw) - Photo Credit: n/a

After opening its doors to the public on November 17, 2007, the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center experienced a surge of interest from the public and exceeded Refuge visitation expectations for its first year in operation. Refuge staff anticipated annual visitation to crest at 20,000 visitors, but by the end of September the staff had contacted 25,000 visitors.

This high visitation was directly linked to the Center’s downtown location, centrally located to the City of Kodiak’s ferry terminal and larger cruise ship dock. During the 2008 summer port season from May through September, the City of Kodiak welcomed sixteen cruise ships and more than eighty Alaska Marine Highway ferry vessels. Cruise ship passengers alone added almost 13,000 visitors to downtown Kodiak through the summer months, many of whom noted the Center as a top destination during their visit to the Emerald Isle. Visitors from around the globe enjoyed the Center’s exhibits, films and public talks, including travelers from Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Brazil and Poland.

A major draw for visitors was the new Kodiak Refuge orientation film, Kodiak National Wildlife RefugeHome of the Great Kodiak Bear. This 12-minute film recently received two national awardsan Award of Excellence at the 14th Annual Communicators Award, and a Silver at the 29th Annual Telly Awards. Produced by the Service's National Conservation Training Center and Kodiak Refuge staff, this beautifully produced film follows the bears as they travel through the seasons on Kodiak Refuge. 

Visitors also commented that the rearticulated gray whale in the upper lobby was a high point of their visit to Alaska, writing thoughts such as, “It’s like my biology class all over again…incredible!” in the Center guest book. Visitor Services staff, as well as a modest crew of local volunteers greeted the public and offered greater insight in to Kodiak Refuge through scheduled talks and informal roving. The Refuge was please to welcome Kodiak Gray Whale Project coordinator, Stacy Studebaker, as a special visitor center docent during the busiest day of the cruise ship season when Princess Cruise line unloaded 2,600 visitors in downtown Kodiak. Studebaker assisted Refuge staff in interpreting the whale exhibit through informal contacts with more than 1,200 visitors who excitedly asked questions throughout the day-long docking.

Through the winter the Center will continue to welcome local community groups and other partner organizations to share in discussions of conservation topics. A highlight of fall and winter events at the Center is the Kodiak Audubon lecture series which is co-sponsored by the newly formed Friends of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Visitor Services staff are actively planning summer 2009 events and look forward to an even busier cruise and ferry season next summer.


Contact Info: Tina Shaw, 612-713-5331, tina_shaw@fws.gov



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