Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Jim Hannah, Part 1

Jim Hannah was interviewed on June 14, 1993 by William Schneider, Dave Krupa, Ann Worthington and Jenna App at the National Park Service's airplane hangar at the Glennallen Air Field in Glennallen, Alaska. In this interview, Jim reflects upon the conflicts between the Park Service's preservation mandate and the many varied interests that compete for access to and use of park resources. Jim rests firmly on the side of preservation, and suggests that there are very few subsistence users of the park. He expresses concern about the many pressures on the fragile ecosystem of the Wrangell-St. Elias area, pressures that threaten to repeat the exploitation and degradation of the environment in the Lower 48. He is steadfast in his commitment to seeing that the mistakes of the past not be replayed here in Alaska, at least not in the thirty or so million acres comprising National Parklands. Jim talks with candor about the many difficulties of his Alaska assignment, including isolation, local resentments, and the vastness of the area over which the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park personnel must preside. He urges new park personnel in Alaska to stick to their vision and not to be swayed by local or corporate interests that he feels would unwisely exploit the land and animals. His advice to those who may have had use of or interests in the area prior to park formation: Alaska is a vast land; there is enough land ownership and enough multiple use areas for everyone.

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Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 95-71-05-01

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Jun 14, 1993
Narrator(s): Jim Hannah
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
People Present: Anne Worthington, David Krupa, Jenna App
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) Personal background and how he got interested in the National Park Service

2) Experience working with controversy

3) When he worked in Big Bend National Park, and when he came to Alaska

4) Regional office people in Alaska, and the effect of the establishment of national parks

5) Entering Eagle and the locals' perception of the Park Service

6) Perceptions of the Park Service

7) His attempts to present the Park Service to the people of Eagle

8) His very first encounter when he entered Eagle

9) Return to Big Bend, and his acceptance as District Ranger at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in April 1981

10) Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

11) Work as District Ranger, Chitina District, Wrangell-St. Elias Park, June 1980

12) Wrangell-St.Elias area deaths

13) ANILCA, issues of access, and the use of aircraft for sport hunting versus subsistence

14) The transient population in Glennallen, subsistence rights, and resident zones

15) ATV's, their impact on the land, and the coming necessity of paved roads

16) Access to established areas

17) Harvesting trees in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

18) Tree harvesting

19) Mineral policies and mining claims

20) The impacts to wildlife resources and subsistence abused by people

21) Problems with the guiding system

23) Helping guides understand regulations

23) Mountaineering

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Section 1: hunting -- interest\ fishing -- interest\ Indianapolis, IN\ Rousse, Bob -- cousin, worked for Colorado Fish & Game\ Rousse, Bob -- influence\ teacher -- biology, Arlington High School, Indianapolis\ school administration\ coach -- football, track\ Vernal, UT\ Dinosaur National Monument -- interpreter, back country ranger, river ranger\ Yampa River

Section 2: Grand Canyon National Park -- 1972, river ranger\ Grand Canyon -- river management\ boating\ NPS -- experience with controversy\ Bryce Canyon -- intake ranger\ resource management\ Navajo Power Plant\ Glen Canyon

Section 3: Bryce Canyon -- 5 1/2 years\ Big Bend National Park -- district ranger\ Rio Grand District\ U.S. Customs\ border control -- U.S. and Mexico\ Alaska -- vacation, 1979\ Alaska -- offered job in 1981 for NPS

Section 4: Broadway, Doug -- Property and Procurement, NPS\ Yukon-Charley Rivers National Park\ Paleck, Bill\ Brown, Bill\ Tanner, Bill\ Cook, John -- Area Director\ Carter, Jimmy -- establishment of National Parks\ parks -- consequences\ park -- formation\ park -- Alaska Congressional Delegation views\ Yukon Charley National Monument -- Yukon Charley National Park

Section 5: Skagway\ Texas\ Eagle\ Eagle -- first visit, "Hostile Den"\ Monuments Proclamation -- also known as HR39\ ANILCA\ NPS -- resistance\ squatters\ NPS -- view as threat

Section 6: McPhee, John\ Chow, John -- district ranger\ NPS -- bureaucracy

Section 7: Eagle -- first visit\ Eagle -- anti-Park Service\ Eagle -- protest signs\ Eagle -- town meetings\ Evans, Dave

Section 8: Waller, Sarge\ Brown, Bill\ Eagle -- refusal to serve Park Service\ Eagle -- school\ Yukon-Charley Rivers National Monument -- recommended to be Preserve

Section 9: Wrangell-St. Elias -- District Ranger\ Ahtna Lodge\ Kenny Lake\ Ahtna Regional Corporation -- wife worked there\ Hannah, Shirley\ Copper Center -- school\ cabin -- description\ outhouse -- story

Section 10: water -- hauling\ Chitina\ rumors\ Wrangell-St. Elias -- private land, 1 million acres

Section 11: Budge, Chuck -- Superintendent\ Budge, Chuck -- worked at Bryce Canyon\ Bryce Canyon\ Paleck, Bill -- Chief Ranger\ Kotzebue

Section 12: Shaver, Mack\ Mullen, Kit -- seasonal worker\ Miller, Judy\ Dan Creek\ Crumb Gulch\ Gagnon, Fran\ May Creek\ Barrett, Bruce -- killed December\ Van Azdel, Don -- shot Bruce Barrett over dogs versus snowmobile dispute\ deaths -- McCarthy, 1983\ deaths

Section 13: ANILCA -- Dec. 2, 1980\ access -- aircraft\ access -- boat\ access -- ATV\ access -- policies\ subsistence -- use of aircraft

Section 14: pipeline -- corridor\ road -- impact\ visitors -- transients\ Glennallen\ Congress -- access intent\ subsistence -- grandfathering\ Tok\ resident zones -- defined\ Glennallen

Section 15: ATV's\ track vehicles -- surplus military\ Nabesna Road\ access -- challenges\ Copper Trail\ Tanada Lake Trail\ access -- channeling via paved roads\ access -- limitations

Section 16: Chisana\ access -- established areas\ McCarthy Road\ access -- present users want to limit newcomers

Section 17: trees -- harvesting, dead\ McCarthy\ Fireweed State Subdivision\ garbage\ Kennecott\ bears -- eating garbage

Section 18: May Creek\ trees -- girdling, green\ trees -- harvesting, creates trail system\ Gagnon, Al -- girdling trees

Section 19: mineral -- policies\ mining -- claims\ ANILCA -- access to claims\ access -- defining reasonable

Section 20: caribou -- Mentasta population\ subsistence -- caribou\ Slana\ Watt, James -- head of U.S. Department of the Interior\ Slana -- BLM land opened to homesteading\ Homestead Act\ Nabesna Road\ trees -- girdling\ beetles -- bark\ ecosystem -- management\ attitude -- boom/bust

Section 21:  guiding -- problems\ guiding -- good old boy system\ guides -- lack of education to write management policies\ Chisana\ Lesko, Russ\ guides -- make big money

Section 22: Wade, Karen\ guides -- criticism for lack of education\ intimidation

Section 23: mountaineering -- Mt. McKinley\ mountaineering -- avoiding problems of Denali\ Wrangell Mountains\ Kluane National Park\ Tetlin Wildlife Refuge\ Tetlin Indian Reservation\ Mount Logan\ park -- diversity of resources