Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Celebrating the New Arctic Interagency Visitor Center
Alaska Region, June 29, 2004
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The completion of the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center located in Coldfoot, Alaska was commemorated on Tuesday, June 29, 2004. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Park Service (NPS), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have been working collaboratively in Coldfoot since 1989 to provide information to visitors traveling the Dalton Highway. The new visitor center is almost ten times the size of the previous, and offers a wide array of interpretative displays and exhibits.

Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge Manager Bob Schulz and Park Ranger Jody DeMeyere, Visitor Services Chief Debbie Steen, and Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge Operation Specialist Jimmy Fox represented the USFWS during this interagency event. Unfortunately, due to smoke conditions from wildland fires north of Fairbanks, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Steve Griles and USFWS Director Rowan Gould were unable to attend, but the celebration continued!!

About 75 people were in attendance for the celebration. Residents from the communities of Wiseman and Coldfoot Camp, along with BLM, NPS, and USFWS employees, retirees and volunteers, representatives of the Alaska Joint Pipeline Office, Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Natural History Association, and USKH-Alaska (the architecture firm that designed the center) sat together and listened as one speaker reminisced about the ?good old days? when the original interagency visitor center was a one room log cabin without plumbing. Another speaker described the new modern facility that will inspire visitors with its beauty and thoughtful exhibits miles away from ?civilization.? Wiseman resident, Jack Reakoff, spoke of changes in the area since the development of the pipeline and Dalton Highway. He concluded by stating how the visitor center allows visitors to understand the beauty and richness of the area through education and outreach.

With the new visitor center as a backdrop, individuals and groups who, individually or collectively, helped develop, plan, and design the visitor center concept, construct the building, create interpretive exhibits, obtain funding, or staff and manage the visitor center were recognized and commended for their commitment to excellence and perseverance to the visitor center's purpose. Each was presented with a copy of the commemorative Arctic Interagency Visitor Center poster and an award thanking them for their contribution in the development of the visitor center.

To cap the celebration, three key individuals representing the three federal agencies involved in the new center and responsible for the overall success of it were asked to represent their agencies and co-workers and cut the official ribbon. With the crowd enthusiastically applauding, they jointly cut the ribbon that officially opened the visitor center.

Following the ribbon cutting, visitors toured the new center, viewed and participated in interactive exhibits focusing on interagency cooperation, enjoyed light refreshments, and were overwhelmed by the automatically flushing toilets.

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