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Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Bruce Collins

Bruce Collins was interviewed on Thursday, August 6, 1992 by David Krupa at Bruce's office in Anchorage, Alaska. Bruce is currently Aviation Manager for the National Park Service, but from 1981-1991 he was Chief Ranger for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, stationed in both Fairbanks and Bettles. Poor flying conditions kept Bruce grounded in Anchorage and made time available for this interview. He used the occasion of the interview to express his enthusiasm for the vast and diverse landscape of Alaska, and his growing awareness that the challenge of the Park Service in Alaska is to act as a wise steward for "global resources" unmatched in size and ecological integrity. He discusses the difficulty of conveying to outsiders the enormity, integrity, and diversity of Alaska and its paradoxical vulnerability to environmental insult. Like Ray Bane, he seemed intent on preserving a record of the unique period of park formation in Alaska; and sensitizing a new generation of park personnel regarding the depth and intensity of local concern over the impact of park formation upon historic patterns of use and occupancy on park lands. He discusses the struggle between the preservation mandate of the park and the needs of local communities. He also expresses his fear that park lands are in real danger of being compromised by political realities such as state claims to transportation corridors and increased hunting, mining, and trapping pressures at the margins of protected lands.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-07

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Aug 6, 1992
Narrator(s): Bruce Collins
Interviewer(s): David Krupa
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
Slideshow
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Sections

1) His personal background and how he became involved with the Park Service

2) How Bruce was assigned to Alaska and the Monument Task Force

3) The general political and cultural setting of the Park Service

4) Measuring opinions and forming subsistence policies and how Alaska's situation is unique

5) Similarities and differences in issues of concern in Park areas

6) How Bruce ended up at Gates of the Arctic and his impression of Bettles

7) Primary tasks when in Bettles

8) Turnover in the Park Service and institutional memory

9) Response to anti-Park Service sentiment and how Bruce's viewpoint has changed after managing Gates of the Arctic

10) California as an example of what to prevent in Alaska

11) Threats and issues to keep in mind as a park manager and concerns over management techniques

12) Park units as a "global resource" and how Gates of the Arctic relates to the global society

13) Trips into backcountry

14) Accessibility of Gates to outsiders

15) Local resistance to the Park Service and its effect on how visitors are greeted by locals

16) Significant differences in concerns of Native and non-Native villages in Gates of the Arctic

17) Bruce summarizes what Gates of the Arctic means to him and suggestions for future management

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Transcript

Section 1: Lockney, TX\ Colorado State University\ National Park Service -- ranger\ NPS -- Albright\ Training Center\ Saguaro National Monument\ Vietnam\ Amistad National Recreation Area\ Olympic National Park\ Grand Teton National Park\ Hot Springs National Park\ Gates of the Arctic -- chief ranger\ regional aviation manager\ parents\ school\ outdoors -- intrigue\ Texas -- west|

Section 2: Carter, President\ Monument Task Force\ Cook, John\ aviation\ Gale, Rick\ Lake Clark\ public relations\ Fanning, Ken\ Alaska Coalition\ Bettles\ Denali\ Lake Minchumina|

Section 3: National Park Service\ Presidential Proclamation of Monuments -- 1979, Alaskan opinions\ subsistence\ hunting -- restrictions\ hunting -- sport\ access -- National Parks\ "lock up"\ park establishment -- opinions|

Section 4: National Park Service -- interim rules\ subsistence\ restrictions -- preceived\ subsistence -- changes\ subsistence -- traditional\ subsistence -- modification\ background -- lack of\ intimidation\ "The Last Frontier"\ bears|

Section 5: state fair -- Fairbanks\ Alaska Coalition\ "lock up"\ press -- proactive\ land -- Federal\ homesteaders\ change -- acceptance\ cabins -- trespass\ Wrangell Park\ Katmai Park|

Section 6: Fairbanks\ Bradley, Zorro\ Cooperative Park Studies Unit (CPSU) -- University of Alaska Fairbanks\ Bettles\ Eagle\ Glennallen\ Park Service -- anti sentiment\ Bane, Ray\ Morris, Neil\ Morris, Daryl\ government -- anti sentiment\ guides -- recreational\ meetings -- public\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ National Park Service -- acceptance|

Section 7: subsistence\ aviation -- access\ park -- regulations\ Bane, Ray\ Bane, Barbara\ learning area\ meetings -- public\ aviation\ Fickus, Bill\ Crevice Creek\ Wiseman\ contact -- formation\ population -- turnover\ Anchorage\ military|

Section 8: Holly, Susan\ Springer, Ken\ population -- turnover\ Bane, Ray\ Hannah, Jim\ Chase, Don\ Glacier Bay\ Hartel, Paul\ Eagle -- vandalism|

Section 9: National Park Service -- anti sentiment\ meetings -- public\ National Park Service -- interactions with individuals\ public relations\ meetings -- public versus individual\ policies -- explanations\ National Park Service -- bureaucracy\ resource -- preservation\ park -- differences from Lower 48\ resource -- management\ technology\ California|

Section 10: Yosemite\ Anchorage Basin\ Gates of the Arctic\ Alaska -- growth\ growth -- impact\ caribou -- western herd|

Section 11: management -- threats, global\ subsistence\ mining -- potential\ water rights -- state claims\ right of ways\ navigability\ claims -- state versus government\ wolf -- radio collaring\ research -- irrelevant\ prevention -- long run results\ techniques -- management criticism\ Forest Service\ trees -- clear cutting|

Section 12: "custodians"\ resources -- ownership claims\ global shrinking\ Gates of the Arctic -- vastness\ Arctic Refuge\ Gates of the Arctic -- human impact\ Denali\ Wrangell\ "wilderness"\ Katmai -- fishing\ Katmai -- volcanism\ Cook Inlet\ Turnagain Arm\ Knik Arm\ Hickel Highway -- remains|

Section 13: aviation -- pilot\ aviation -- people transport\ inaccessibility\ Killik River\ Noatak River\ Okokmilaga\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ snow machine\ Easter Creek|

Section 14: visitor -- usage\ outfitters\ press\ guides -- regulation\ Arctic Refuge -- visitation\ Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- press coverage\ oil companies\ conservationists\ development\ Noatak\ Gates of the Arctic -- usage restrictions|

Section 15: Gates of the Arctic -- visitors\ Marshall, Bob\ wilderness\ camping\ Bettles -- visitors\ Wiseman\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ Henderson, Joe\ tourism\ Frontier Flying Service\ Larry's Flying Service\ Anaktuvuk Pass -- Simon Paneak Museum\ hunting -- sport|

Section 16: Anaktuvuk Pass\ subsistence\ trapping\ hunting\ guiding\ Bettles -- subsistence\ subsistence -- definition|

Section 17: Gates of the Arctic\ resource -- global\ "the right thing"\ politics\ management -- unpredictability\ subsistence\ conflict -- intergovernmental\ management -- National Park Service support\ management -- cooperation\ management -- education\ Wrangell\ Denali\ Noatak Preserve\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ subsistence -- permits|