This is a continuation of an interview with Bud Rice by Rachel Mason and Karen Brewster on December 10, 2010 at the offices of the National Park Service in Anchorage, Alaska. In this part of the interview, Bud talks about skiing, hiking, snowmachining and hunting in the Exit Glacier area, changes in Exit Glacier, conducting scientific research on the glacier, working for the National Park Service on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and climate change issues.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Date of Interview: Dec 10, 2010
Narrator(s): Bud Rice
Interviewer(s): Rachel Mason, Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
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Snowmachining in the park
Cross-country skiing and public use cabin
Changes in park visitation
Changes in wildlife, vegetation, and to Exit Glacier
Hunting in the Exit Glacier area and the park
Skiing and hiking in the Exit Glacier and Harding Icefield area
Working for Kenai Fjords National Park during the Exxon Valdez oil spill
Doing envrionmental impact statement work for the National Park Service
Dealing with effects from climage change at Exit Glacier
Glacier terminus location markers at Exit Glacier
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KAREN BREWSTER: So I just wanted to follow up a little bit more on what you said about -- at that time when you were working for the park, snow machining was just kind of getting going.
BUD RICE: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what the Park Service's attitudes were about that activity in the national park?
BUD RICE: Well, we weren't really thrilled about having snow machining just go all over the place.
And we were concerned about adverse impacts to wildlife. We know that there's moose populations, there's goats in the hills, and the mountain goats seem to be sensitive to noise.
And so if you had a bunch of snow machines buzzing around and trying to go up Exit Glacier, it might drive the goats away from there.
And some people want to go there and see these things in the wintertime.
And the mountain goats would move down to the edge of the hemlock, and they get --
they'd come out of the mountains, they'd be in the hemlock where it -- it wasn't deep snow, and they'd forage around down underneath the hemlock trees.
And we would actually monitor and watch them and see them. And we had a -- you know, a volunteer ranger out there who used to be --
in early days was a volunteer, we didn't have a paid person, and they took the weather.
And we set up snow sur -- I set up the first snow survey courses out there, you know, weather station with the National Weather Service, and we set up a river gauge off the bridge over Resurrection.
We set up a stream gauge at Exit Creek. We'd take a tape measure and measure down the edge, and we actually did three profiles across the creek
and, you know, I got the slope angle and the width and all that, and we tried to get flow rates.
And so by measuring to the edge of the water from a tape that was, you know, surveyed in, we -- we can get an idea what the flow rate was.
And then we had a wire gauge that dropped up and down on Resurrection River, but all that stuff, I think, has been automated now, particularly this gauge on the Resurrection River.
KAREN BREWSTER: But so snow machines are allowed --
BUD RICE: Yeah. Snow machines are allowed, yeah. And particularly on the road, and so we -- we tried to manage it and set up trails and groom trails so that people would stay on groomed trails,
because there's deep snow there and you can get stuck.
And we didn't want to have to go out and rescue people, either. But some people like to just blasting through the powder.
Nowadays the machines are a lot different than they were in the early '80s, they are way more reliable and they can climb just about anything, as long as it doesn't avalanche on you.
So I don't know what -- how much activity or if people are going up alongside. It's pretty steep up Exit Glacier, I think it's pretty limited.
Some people may go up Paradise Creek a little ways and definitely up Exit Glacier Road.
And I don't think anybody's snowmobiling up Resurrection River and the Forest Service area.
You're probably allowed to, but there's a -- you get pinched off and you have to cross the river, and this river's got a pretty good flow on it, so it's really not safe in going.
KAREN BREWSTER: But so in the '80s when you were there, were people going up the face of Exit Glacier?
BUD RICE: No. It's too crevassed, pretty steep. Most everybody traversed the trail on the sides.
Some people hiked up ridges on the other side, too. We had a winter guy here and he went up the other side and snowshoed up.
He was a tough guy, he was a telemark skier, and he says --
he says, "God, there's a lot of snow out here, Bud." He says, this is really hard going. He's a big, tall, commercial fisherman guy.
And then he worked out the one winter we had, like, a record snowfall, I can't remember if it was '86 or '87, it just snowed and snowed and snowed.
He'd call on the radio and he says -- he had a funny kind of a drawl, and he says, “Bud, when's it gonna stop snowing?”
It was hilarious.
So not much snowmobile activity when I was there and we had a Park -- one or two Park Service snowmobiles, and like I say, we packed a trail and groomed it, and mostly for skiers and mushers and stuff.
And there were just a handful of people that would go out there, and I was one of the regulars.
And we did -- there was a little Nordic Ski Club, and we had some moonlight skis.
We'd go out to -- after we built the cabin in the -- in the late '80s, I remember leading a moonlight ski out there with --
oh, who was the guy, he was a Marathon runner. Young was his last name.
I'll think of his name. Sam Young. He lived at Dot Bardarson’s house, too, before I did, so a lot of guys,
people that were interesting outdoorsmen, passed through the Bardarson house, but, you know, as renters, then we got our own places.
But Sam Young organized groups and we did a couple moonlight skis out Exit Glacier. Very fun.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you mentioned this cabin that was built.
BUD RICE: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: What -- where is -- what is that and where is it?
BUD RICE: First we had a ranger station, and then we built -- afterwards we built a public use cabin, that pretty close,
and the public use cabin, I think, is pretty near the ranger station, and --
KAREN BREWSTER: So it's out there at Exit Glacier?
BUD RICE: Yeah, it's -- it's Exit Glacier, it's below the outwash plains. It's in the woods.
But protect the place. And then we had this snow survey course and the weather station, you know, close by, so --
KAREN BREWSTER: So that cabin is one people can rent and ski --?
BUD RICE: Yeah, people can rent that now. Stay overnight --
KAREN BREWSTER: -- ski out there.
BUD RICE: Right. Ski, or mush dogs. Wonderful. Yeah. Very fun.
RACHEL MASON: Is that marked on the map?
BUD RICE: Well, it's -- it's probably up valley from the campground location. I don't know.
Yeah, there's some little black marks. Maybe those are they. That's where the buildings are. I think it's right in there.
And we've got additional buildings here now, we've got a new visitor's center and --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: So it's -- it's a developed area, gets a pretty steady flow of visitors in the summertime, so --
but in the wintertime, you know, the use really stops off, but we have this little public use cabin,
and usually there's a caretaker or a ranger, a person that's taking care of the weather station and other things.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you --
BUD RICE: I think they're putting a snow pillow at the snow survey course was -- that gives you automated information and tele -- telemeter out, you know, how many inches of water equivalents are sitting on this pillow.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you were there the early years of the park.
BUD RICE: Uh hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: How much visitation was there happening at that point?
BUD RICE: Oh.
KAREN BREWSTER: I mean, were there lots of people?
BUD RICE: There are numbers, and I don't recall --
KAREN BREWSTER: No, I was just thinking your sense of it.
BUD RICE: Yeah. Well, it's vastly increased now. When we first started and we just had a hiking trail to Exit Glacier, it was just a few thousand people in the summer.
After you put a road in, jumped up to like a hundred thousand, now it's several hundred thousand, probably 2 to 300,000 a year.
We got busses rolling in, you know, and bringing tour groups in, and you know, Princess Tours and others just bringing people out there.
And they -- they give them an hour or two there to go hike up to the glacier and get close to the glacier ice.
It's one of the easiest places to do that. It used to be that the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center there, you know, was the place where you'd get closest to the glacier ice.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, Portage Glacier.
BUD RICE: Portage Glacier. And, of course, Portage Glacier just melted back in the lake, just like th tidewater glaciers --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: -- is a deep water lake, and it just fell apart around the corner. It's out of sight.
You have to get in a boat to go see that thing now.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: Although it's fun to go there in the spring. I ski out there --
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, yeah?
BUD RICE: -- when the lake is frozen. And we wait until the snow crusts over and you can crust ski.
You can easily skate ski 15 miles an hour and go cruise out and take photos and ski around the front of frozen Portage Glacier.
So that's a fun way to go see that place.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I don't know if during the years you were there at Kenai Fjords if the increase in visitation was enough that you guys
were able to see were there any changes that resulted in impacts in terms of to the wildlife and the resources because of --
BUD RICE: Yeah, my sense is, and you'd be better off talking to Mike Tetreau who worked years, and I think he followed up on the mountain goats. I think the mountain goats have kind of like gone around the corner.
There's just too much human noise and activity. And I don't -- we don't -- I don't think -- we see them, but I don't think we see, you know, 20 or 30 mountain goats like we might have in the early days before there was a lot of automation.
You know, automobiles and snowmobiles and all that sort of thing. They just don't like that kind of disturbance.
There may be more -- as many or more moose. I think moose do fine.
And, of course, we -- you asked the question earlier, you know, what biological and physical changes.
Well, as the glacier ice melts back, you have a lot of exposed barren ground, particularly around Bear Glacier, Exit Glacier, and all these outflow glaciers.
And so if you get a big rain event on top of the exposed bare ground, you get a lot more water runoff.
Glaciers are storage features. They store water. Even if it's rain on snow and ice, it gets sucked up, and it's like a sponge. It holds it.
And then lets it go as it melts slowly. But now if you've got barren ground around that, water hits that, off it goes, and then it's going to pick up the soil particle, as well, or lots of soil, and end up with raging muddy waters.
And so I think we're subject to more flashy kind of flooding because of receding ice.
Well, the other thing we're seeing, we did some work with Dot Helms, who's a plant ecologist in the Palmer area, and -- and we were looking at -- oh, what do I want to say -- plant succession.
You know, and so we -- we'd see that certain plants would seed in rapidly in these barren areas, fireweed shows up right away.
And believe it or not, poplar, you know, the cottonwoods, the seed goes everywhere just like fireweed, and -- and they grow and then -- but they grow and then they grow up and die.
And same thing, we had hemlocks above and some Sitka spruce, and their seeds would float down, and some of those things would start, but they wouldn't survive.
So we wanted to know why they wouldn't survive.
So Helms looked and this and she realized that, you know, plants and trees in particular won't grow to be a big tree or a bush or something unless it has the right micorrhizae,
which is a fungus in the soil, which can't be there unless it gets there by air. It's one of these things that blows around in the air.
And so once the soil gets inoculated with the correct micorrhizae, which becomes prevalent in the area and these -- these young seedlings start to grow if the micorrhizae is present,
it actually helps the -- the tree or the shrub roots pick up nutrients of water enough to grow a bigger plant.
Without the micorrhizae, you know, large trees don't make it.
So -- so it was interesting to look at this, you know, plant succession. We did similar work out at some of the big glaciers, Bear Glacier and -- and Northwestern Fjord.
And I did a study out in Northwestern, which is rapidly receding, we had few little spruce trees here and there, and of course, they got smaller and smaller as you got closer to the glacier,
but right where the glaciers had been in 1910 where Grant Higgins was, were these great, big, huge adult trees.
And then you could see the trim line where the glacier had been, the young trees below it and these great, big things on -- see, we could tell where the ice had been because of the sudden change in tree size.
KAREN BREWSTER: So the idea that with Exit Glacier receding, the treeline is going to start --
BUD RICE: Yeah. And the shrubs and trees are getting bare, the cottonwood are blocking the views, and so that's what the trails are changing and, you know, everything's changing.
It's -- the place is in flux. It's really interesting because it's so changeable.
KAREN BREWSTER: And, now, what about hunting in that area? Did -- did you ever go hunting out there?
BUD RICE: No. Well, that's a good question. Kenai Fjords is one of the few new national parks established by ANILCA, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act,
that does not allow any hunting and not even subsistence hunting.
Because there -- we felt from studies and interviews, there were no villages near this place. You know, Port Graham and -- and English Bay are the nearest ones, and they're way around over by Homer, basically.
And if there'd been a village in Aialik Bay, there'd be subsistence hunting in Kenai Fjords, but there wasn't any, and it was too far for those people to get around, you know, the southern tip of Kenai.
It's rough getting around Gore Point, and most people don't do it very much, and they're not going to do it during hunting season, which is usually in the fall.
That's really rough water out there.
So no subsistence. No sport hunting, no subsistence hunting.
Now, we did a land exchange with English Bay Corporation after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, et cetera, and they had -- you know, English Bay and Port Graham owns tens of thousands of acres. Port Graham still does.
English Bay decided with the Exxon settlement that they're going to get millions of dollars, and I was involved with that, and we were looking at the values, and they ended up getting $15 million, and they sold to the Park Service,
the Federal Government, 20,000 acres of land, et cetera, but they retained some hunting rights for a potlatch in the village,
so they can actually go into Beauty Bay area of the Kenai Fjords and go get a moose for a village potlatch if they need to or want to.
I don't think they've hardly ever done it. It's hard to get there. This really wasn't much of a threat to resources.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so before it was a park, did people talk about going hunting?
BUD RICE: Oh, yeah. Some people -- some people have hunted, you know, mountain goats,
I'm sure, in the area, probably moose, they can go up Resurrection River.
And then there was a guy, Fred Moore, who's one of the famous elder Mount Marathon runners who told me in the old days out in Aialik Bay in the '60s, in 1960s and '70s before it became a park,
that he would go out seal hunting in the Fjords.
And nobody's doing that now, as far as I know.
There might be a few Natives because it's really -- technically, it's out of our jurisdiction, but after it became a park one of the missions of Kenai Fjords is to protect
the haul out areas and the marine wildlife in the area because people going out on tour boats want to go --
Can you imagine, you go out there with a tour boat and some guy's out there beaming all these seals?
Well, the other thing that happened is that the seal population crashed.
Ann Hoover Miller did her masters project in Fairbanks in 1980, before I did, on the harbor seal population in -- in Aialik Bay.
And there were, like, 1500 harbor seals. A great number.
There's, like, 300 now or something, so the population has just gone way down, so there's not much to hunt anyway.
For some reason, that harbor seal population has taken a nosedive.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I was wondering, in the Resurrection Valley there and Exit Glacier is when it became a park, did you get a sense from people in Seward when you were living there that they felt --
BUD RICE: Some people -- yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- restricted by now you can't hunt there because they had hunted there before?
BUD RICE: Very few. Gar Wong, I think, told me, he said, oh, I used to come out here and hunt ptarmigan and I can't do it anymore.
There are ptarmigan there. And -- and a few people would get moose, but they might get them on the other side , on Forest Service land but, you know, Resurrection River Valley supported --
KAREN BREWSTER: But it wasn't a huge --
BUD RICE: No, it wasn't a huge --
KAREN BREWSTER: -- uproar in town?
BUD RICE: -- hue and cry. It wasn't.
The other interesting thing about Exit Glacier, which I think is -- well, speaking of ptarmigan, is one of the few places in the world you can find all three species of North American ptarmigan.
With willow ptarmigan down low in the willows. You get up in the rocky country and have rock ptarmigan.
And farther up, we get the whitetail ptarmigan, which is the highest elevation ptarmigan --
KAREN BREWSTER: I haven't even heard of those.
BUD RICE: -- so three species in Alaska. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: I didn't know we had three species.
BUD RICE: Well, I was camping up along the Exit Glacier Trail when we did trail work, and -- oh, and when we were putting these markers out on Exit Glacier,
we heard this screaming noise in the middle of the morning, "eeeeeeeeeh." It was whitetail ptarmigan. I get out, and what is doing this?
And I'd see these little -- they would roost out in the glacier at night, they'd just dive into the snow and roost there, no predator can get them there.
And there's black bear and coyotes and stuff, you now, and they like ptarmigan.
But they're safe out there.
And then in the mor -- early morning light, they'd make these screaming little noises and come in and start foraging and eating all of -- you know, crowberries, or whatever was -- you know, they eat.
And they come into the tundra and start feeding. It was pretty neat.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. You don't think about that there's enough to eat up there on the glacier, or any wildlife --
BUD RICE: Yeah, they're not eating on the glacier, they're eating on the edge of the glacier.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: But yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: As you say, that there's wildlife hanging around up there.
BUD RICE: Black bears, and there's a lot of, you know, salmonberry, and you've got to watch -- you've got to pay attention because there's black bears all over the place out there.
In fact, and in the Fjords, I used to tell everybody, every cove of every bay has got its black bear or a family of black bear.
And where the salmon runs is more black bear. So there's a lot of black bear in that country.
Yeah. Yeah. Pretty rich. Vegetation, fish, you know, intertidal area, and then they can feed on that, so --
KAREN BREWSTER: All your skiing and hiking and things up there, besides that big traverse and your research, any other times you were up out --
BUD RICE: Oh, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- on the glacier?
BUD RICE: Oh.
KAREN BREWSTER: Explorations you did?
BUD RICE: No, not that much. I did do some ski trips up the Resurrection Valley past Exit Glacier.
And we had below Lowell Glacier here, and it's not -- it's off -- maybe it's on this map here.
Placer Creek. Placer Creek, see, there's a little cabin there, there's an old trapper -- log trapper cabin there.
So there were some people that trapped in here, too.
That's another activity that would have been excluded when it became a park was trapping.
And this guy trapped. You can look at the notes he wrote on the logs, he trapped wolverine here and he got so many marten and stuff like that.
So I think there's a Martin Creek here. Yeah, Martin Creek comes down. So there's fur bearing animals in Resurrection River Valley.
And so I've mountain biked there in the fall when things freeze up, and -- or ski, it's more fun to ski up in the wintertime up there and spend the night, you know, and read these old stories written on the logs and so forth.
KAREN BREWSTER: So how far up did you go? You went up to Placer Creek or you've gone past there?
BUD RICE: Placer Creek. Well, I've hiked all the way over to Russian and I've skied trails every which way in this country.
And I've skied a lot of mountains around Lost Lake and stuff, but Kenai Fjords is pretty tough to get into.
I mean, you want to go up Exit Glacier, get on the Harding Icefield, and then it's wide open. But -- but then the weather is an issue, too.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, even out on the icefield itself, you have to worry about crevasses and --
BUD RICE: Yeah. We stayed roped up. You just never know, but generally, where it's really flat, you're not going to have crevasses,
because you need -- you need some tension to pull the ice apart, and then you get a crack.
But where it's really flat, we may have even unroped in some places since, it's like, there's no way to form a crevasse here.
It's just this huge for miles expanse of flat snow and ice. And if there's enough snow on it, it's going to fill in any crevasse.
But as soon you get to a place where you get a slope angle, you better rope up.
We don't know, you might not see the crevasse, but there could be one here, especially when you get close to -- to outflowing glaciers, like Exit Glacier starts peeling off the icefield.
You know, that tension there is going to open that ice up, and then you get a lot of crevasses in those places.
So getting up off of a glacier on an icefield and leaving it, you've got to really pay attention there.
KAREN BREWSTER: And with all the snow that they get up there, does that make it more dangerous --
BUD RICE: Well --
KAREN BREWSTER: -- crossing the icefield, or does it make it easier?
BUD RICE: -- earlier in the year it's easier.
Cause like April, May, June, there's so much snow that these things are all filled in, if you fell, you'd just fall in the fluff of the snow probably, but later in the year when the snow melts, it becomes more hazardous.
Now, I've skied on the big glaciers in the Denali National Park, to Ruth Glacier, and skied out at Amphitheater and stuff, and we had to wind around,
and this was in April, and we had to wind around big, old crevasses there.
And it was a little better there, but later in the year, August, it'd be almost impassable, there's so many crevasses.
KAREN BREWSTER: So, you started in Kenai Fjords in, you know, '83, '84.
BUD RICE: Yeah. '83. Summer of '83. Backcountry way down in Nuka Bay.
KAREN BREWSTER: When did you leave?
BUD RICE: Oh. 1992 is when I left, June of 1992. And I left reluctantly, but I met and married Page Spencer, and her dad was the guy that was the first refuge manager in the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, and she grew up in Kenai.
And she's an ecologist, first with BLM and then with the Park Service, and she's about to retire from the Park Service now.
So we got married, and then we had this commuter marriage, and then we had the Exxon -- actually, the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred the week after we got married.
And then we got thrown into this chaos, and it was very stressful. And she -- she was really stressed out by the whole thing.
And she wrote a book about it called "White Silk and Black Tar," the contrast of getting married and then dealing with that. Pretty tough.
And I had been gone most of the time, I was working. I mean, I wasn't really available for her, and she was working here with the incident command team,
and people were being bullies and pushing her around, and she had this computer and she was gathering all this data.
And she and I are the ones that mapped out the initial response that the Park Service was going to do in the oil spill.
And actually, we flew over Prince William Sound with her brother three to four days after the spill, and flew around, flew over the Exxon,
we saw the oil all over the Sound, this is before it got to Kenai Fjords and Seward, and then we flew back, and we landed in Girdwood, and then drove down.
And as we drove down, I was driving and she was writing notes and we were taking notes, and we better do some pre-spill work, and we mapped out what it was we needed to sample and study and get pre-spill data.
And we did that.
And then we got a tort team came together, and we sent a crew out there, and we got a Class A incident management team.
People that generally manage large wildfires offered themselves at Valdez, and they got rejected by the Coast Guard, and then they called the Park Service in Anchorage,
and Dave Ames, the deputy director, says -- and he worked with these teams and -- for big volcanic eruptions, Hawaii volcanos, he knew how valuable they were, he says, we'll take them, send them down to Seward.
And so we had these guys, and bang, we got organized, and next thing you know we're humming, we're putting out boom to protect, you know, salmon streams,
we got all the sampling, we found any winter coat birds and tossed them way out of the way, you know, took notes of any dead bird we found later and we figured it was from the spill.
We just had all this pre-spill data, and nobody else had had time to do what we did.
And then I landed at Seward and we talked to the harbormaster, and this guy had big eyes, he says, "I've just been to Main Bay, it's a mess over there with the hatchery."
He says, "Goodnight, do you think the oil's coming here?"
I said -- phew. And I'd been in Fairbanks and a graduate student, and I took courses in marine biology, and I knew Tom Rohr, and he'd studied the Alaska gyre,
and I said, "Oh, yeah. It's coming here. It's not a question of if we're going to get oil, it's a question of when and how bad."
KAREN BREWSTER: Did the oil come up into Resurrection Bay?
BUD RICE: It came all the way up into Seward.
KAREN BREWSTER: Really?
BUD RICE: Tar balls. Yeah. But the Seward City fathers were concerned about tourism, and they said -- and got after Exxon, you get crews in here, we want that oil picked up the instant it hits the beach.
And they had these what they called Mosquito Fleet guys that were in boats and people walking around, and you know.
And -- and any tar ball hit the beaches around Seward and Lowell Point, it was, like, gone. Bagged and taken away.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I would have expected it to have hit the outer coast. I didn't realize --
BUD RICE: Oh, it hit the outer coasts.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- that it came all the way up the bay.
BUD RICE: They had little boats all over, the Mosquito Fleet, you know, just scooping this stuff up with buckets, and putting the tar balls in the buckets and oil.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you left Kenai Fjords in '92 and --
BUD RICE: Oh, so I moved to Anchorage.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- went on to do what?
BUD RICE: Yeah, I went to Anchorage and I got hired by my present supervisor, Joan Darnell.
And they were doing -- she was starting an environmental impact statement on a proposed scientific drilling at Novarupta in Katmai.
And it was a big deal.
And the University of Alaska Fairbanks was involved.
John Eichelberger, and I met John and some other people. And a lot of different universities, and the USGS were involved in this.
The problem was it was in -- right smack dab in the middle of designated wilderness at Katmai.
And it was just going to be a big multiyear project with, you know, huge helicopters, drilling rigs, all this sort of stuff.
So I -- Joan's boss quit, so all of a sudden she's the directorof the program, but she couldn't do this EIS because she was also working a big land exchange EIS with Anaktuvuk Pass.
And it was, like, too much for her, so she had to hire somebody.
And I'd been a backcountry ranger, and here's my wife living in Anchorage, and we had this commuter marriage thing. I said -- so I thought, yeah, there you go, I -- I could do this.
And I knew Katmai. And I'd been a backcountry ranger there, so I'd been to Novarupta a gazillion times. I knew the country upside down and backwards, and so I took that job.
So that's what brought me to Anchorage. And I ended up working on NEPA.
I'd done some EAs, like, for this proposed lodge thing, and one of the --
KAREN BREWSTER: The Harbor Air thing.
BUD RICE: Yeah, the Harbor Air thing. And one of the regional directors read my EA, he said, gosh, this is great, this guy can write.
You know, he's got good alternatives, it's reasonable, and, you know, we got a good decision.
Never happened, but they thought, well, he's good at NEPA.
And I took graduate courses in NEPA from Bob -- what's his name, a professor at UAF. Oh, man. When you get older, you start forgetting names. I'll think of it in a little bit.
But anyway, yeah. So I knew the NEPA process. I could write EAs, and this is EIS is a bigger deal.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: So we went to a scoping meeting and -- in Anchorage here, and the then regional office, and it was big to do, and the press was here, and I sat in the back of the room, just kind of listened.
And the contractor's gave a presentation, UAF came up and talked about why they wanted to do this.
It was an unusual place because it was the biggest eruption in the 19th Century, it was highly explosive, and they wanted to understand the processes.
And it was an understandable science, why they wanted to do it.
The location was troublesome.
Wilderness Society's there. And oil company's sitting in the back of the room, Bob Posey, who's now director of Municipal Light & Power for Anchorage, but he was sitting in the back, he'd worked for ARCO at the time, when we had ARCO.
And he said, hmm, and he said to me, well, this is pretty neat, you know, drilling in a national park?
I mean, for scientific studies, but maybe we could get drilling in ANWR.
I'm going, holy smokes, this is not just about drilling in a national park, this is about drilling anywhere.
And -- and Deborah Williams, who was the assistant to Secretary of Interior at that time, we got a camera ready draft EIS,
we had two interior agents of the Park Service, finally decided -- we were forced to pick a preferred alternative.
You're not supposed to put something out to the public and not indicate to the public what it is you think you want to do in a decision.
We picked the no action alternative. The university went nuts. They said, you made us go through all this work and now you're going to pick the no action?
We said, well, we weren't going go out with the preferred at all, just see what the public said, but we got forced to pick the preferred, and that's what we think is the best thing to do for the park.
And then Deborah read the camera ready EIS, she says, you know, this a train wreck, and I'm supposed to help Secretary Babbitt avoid train wrecks.
And she went and talked to USGS, Terry Keith at the time, who was head of the Alaska Volcano Observatory.
And she convinced Terry to withdraw the proposal, never went to public. Amazing.
And she read the whole thing, like, overnight, she says, this -- this is not good. We don't need to deal with this.
So she told Terry Keith, look, I'll support any other volcano research you want to do except drilling in national park wilderness, I'm not going to accept that.
And she says, we're going support seismometers, we got seismometers all over the place now, and --
and I'll help you get funding and, you know, do all the satellite imagery of ash plumes and all that, she says, I think that's where you need to do your work, and by God, that's what they're doing now.
KAREN BREWSTER: So now the work you do here at the Park Service is EIS?
BUD RICE: I do a lot of NEPA, oil spill response, because of the Exxon, but most recently I just wrote a proposal to do a climate change scenario plan.
And how we're going to manage -- this is really neat because it ties into my history with glaciers, Kenai Fjords.
How are we going to manage park resources in the face of climate change and what we think is likely to be a vastly different future?
And so it's thinking, you know, how are we going to prepare ourselves for the future.
It's a big issue for some coastal parks, like Assateague Island, they want to build visitors centers, but --
and they have a barrier island, but you want to build that one, the ocean's likely to rise 2 to 5 feet, you know, and then --
by the end of the century, and you want these things to last for decades, it's like, you better pick your location careful because you get a surge storm and you -- you're on a barrier island, it's gone.
KAREN BREWSTER: And the same would apply to glaciers --
BUD RICE: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- as you said, you know.
BUD RICE: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: You put something there and then you can't see the glacier anymore.
BUD RICE: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Or it's gone. Well, that was Begich-Boggs.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: $8 million visitor's center Forest Service built to look at Portage Glacier, and, you know, 10 years later it melted back out of view.
KAREN BREWSTER: So, Rachel, do you have any questions for Bud that -- things we haven't covered?
RACHEL MASON: I think we've -- we've covered it pretty much, unless you have something else you'd like to add about the -- the Exit Glacier and the Harding Icefield.
BUD RICE: Well, one -- one thing I'll add as far as climate change and scenario planning, and this just came up, we had a training on how to do this with Global Business Network.
And they work with big oil companies and all kind of people.
And so we came up with some training scenarios, and we were looking at Kenai Fjords, and one of the things we looked at, you know, was the idea of glaciers melting, more exposed ground, we could have more flooding.
And it's going to affect roads and access and visitor facilities. This is really funny.
So Jeff Mau, the superintendent, is sitting there listening, we spun out this scenario. He wasn't even sitting at the team that was talking about this, and he says, come here, guys, I've got to show you something.
He clicked on his computer and pulled up a MP3 video. He says, here's Exit Glacier Road. This is already happening. We're having a flood there.
It just happened this weekend before our training. And it took out Exit Glacier Road.
We had to close the road and we put cones down and we stopped the traffic and we had to dump a bunch of gravel in there. It's already happening.
And that's one of the things that the GBN facilitator, Jonathan Star, says, look -- when you build your scenarios about futures, look for indicators that show you that this might already be starting to happen.
We were just talking about flooding, and here it was happening and affecting a resource.
And it was going to cost over a few thousand, tens of thousands of dollars to fix a road that got washed out. Amazing.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I have one more question about the receding, is at Exit Glacier they have all these markers --
BUD RICE: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- of where --
BUD RICE: Oh, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- the glacier used to be. I don't know who put those in.
BUD RICE: Oh, yeah. The guy that did that work was Joel Cusick, who is with our GIS team, and he did a masters project, just focused on Exit Glacier.
Mine was more on the Harding Icefield, a bigger view.
And I did a little work on the flow rates, I was more interested in ice and how that was changing, but he was looking at, you know, vegetation historical stuff.
So he actually got a lot of old data and photos and, you know, whatever research he could do.
And there was a paper on the terminus position of Exit Glacier, a USGS paper, it's in my masters, I can't remember the name of the guy who did it, but --
and so he thought, well, this is a great interpretive thing, and he was looking at how quickly vegetation gets established, you know, on these terminus moraines.
And usually the ice will move forward and then melt back and then hold position for a while, and dump all this rock and make another little terminus and then melt back, and that's what it's doing now.
And so they would put the date so when people drive up, you see a date of 1800s and you 1865. And --
KAREN BREWSTER: We -- we've heard from Seward residents criticism of that.
BUD RICE: Oh. What's the criticism? That's interesting.
KAREN BREWSTER: They --
BUD RICE: They think it's wrong?
KAREN BREWSTER: -- have a response, yeah, that they don't think they're accurate.
BUD RICE: Well, if they can come up with better data, we'd love to see it.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you haven't heard that from anybody, the Park Service hasn't heard that?
BUD RICE: No. That's absurd. Well, actually, you do interpret the date of -- of the terminus, when the ice left the terminus.
And it has to do with this work with Dot Helms and how quickly things came come in and get established and actually survive and live to be a big tree.
So we got these cottonwood trees, and then some case -- down below we've got spruce trees.
And we know from some work that a guy did over at Grewingk Glacier that it takes 14 years on average for a spruce tree to get established
where the ice had been from melting on the Kachemak Bay.
When Page and I did our work -- and then I'll finish this story -- on Northwestern Glacier, it rapid -- more rapidly receded than anything at Grewingk side.
We calculated it took 25 years for a spruce tree to get established and survive to become a tree after the ice had left that location.
So -- so that -- you have to interpret when the ice was here.
You have to add a few years to the age of the tree to get -- so, I mean, there is some interpretation there, so maybe if that's what they're questioning, I can buy that --
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.
BUD RICE: -- but if they're just questioning that it happened at all or that --
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, it's what as people who've lived there for a long time, and so maybe a date that's marked is a date they remember, and where --
BUD RICE: They're not going to remember 1863.
KAREN BREWSTER: No, no, no, but some of the more recent ones
BUD RICE: Oh.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- you know what I'm saying, is that --
BUD RICE: Oh, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- it may be a date they remember and where they think they were standing, you know, those kinds of things. You know, I don't --
BUD RICE: Well, after 1950, we got aerial photography. It's pretty solid.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. I was just curious.
BUD RICE: And if anybody was there before 1950, that would be new to us, but, you know, that was 60 years ago.
And there aren't too many people that were cruising around out there in 1940.
I mean, there were a few people, Yule Kilcher and others, that skied across it, and went up --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: -- and down Exit Glacier. I don't think Yule's around but -- and I don't know if Vin Hoeman is --
KAREN BREWSTER: No. He's passed away.
BUD RICE: -- but -- and Dave Spencer just passed away, any of those guys -- Dave Johnson's still around. He'd be a --
KAREN BREWSTER: But, yeah, I mean, I don't know how much people in Seward went up there before there was a road.
BUD RICE: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: You know, I don't know.
BUD RICE: Not much. Not very much. Dan Seavey, I'd believe him if he had some --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: -- other ideas. But he's the kind of guy that is a teacher, he would take notes and photos and, you know, he'd have some information.
We'll take the information. But as far as somebody just beating up the numbers, well, it's interpreting how long it takes a tree species to get established on the moraine.
And that's how you date the moraine.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
BUD RICE: And some people use lichens. There's a lichen called Rhizocarpon geographicum.
And it's kind of a lime green lichen with a black edge on it.
And people have looked at these things growing on tombstones, got a date on a tombstone --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: -- and so you can get the rate of expansion of the lichen as it grows out on the thal -- it's called a thallus, it grows wide, so you can get a growth rate on those things.
And if you see those things on a rock --
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: -- you're by where you can get dates off a tombstone, then you can use lichens to date
KAREN BREWSTER: Cool.
BUD RICE: -- moraines, and people do that all over the country, all over the world now, but -- so that's another way to date them.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, thank you very much for your time.
BUD RICE: You're welcome.
KAREN BREWSTER: It's been really interesting.
BUD RICE: Good.
KAREN BREWSTER: I really appreciate it.
RACHEL MASON: Yes, thank you.
BUD RICE: Great. You're welcome.