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Fred Williams, Part 1

Fred Williams was interviewed by Bill Schneider and Dave Krupa on October 20, 1993 at his home in Copperville, Copper Center, Alaska. Fish Bug Lane is what he called his road. A 1964 snowmachine sat in the front yard: he just had it all overhauled. Fred and his wife, Halle, have three springer spaniels. Fred is a major collector of rifles; he has a whole room full of them. In this interview, he talks about his experiences as a fish and game biologist in the Copper Basin area. It is clear that he loved the time that he spent out in the field, which amounted to 75% of the work then. Now biologists spend 25% of their time out in the country. A large part of his job involved taking fish surveys from aircraft. His back room is stocked with antique guns which he says he can't resist. The basement has many testimonies to his interests, history books, animal trophies, and a display of his old Fish and Game badges from Alaska and Wyoming where he also worked. In this first part of a two part interview, Fred talks about his job as a fisheries biologist, subsistence, federal and state regulations, and his feelings about land preservation, the National Park Service and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 95-71-13-01

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Oct 20, 1993
Narrator(s): Fred Williams
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, David Krupa
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


1) His background

2) His father and his interest in history

3) Collecting, and his restored 1964 ski-doo snowmachine

4) His job as a fisheries biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game

5) Jack Wilson, and other pilots doing fish counts

6) A salmon counting airplane story

7) Doing background lake surveys

8) Changes seen in his job over the years

9) His techniques compared to earlier biologists' techniques

10) Adjusting to new techniques, and contrasting the Alaskan environment with Wyoming

11) Environmentalists and animal rights groups

12) The effects wrought by Congress upon subsistence

13) Federal and State subsistence regulations

14) Pressure on Alaskan fishing streams and lakes

15) Fishing pressure on the Gulkana River

16) The development of fishing regulations at Summit Lake

17) Dealing with the fishing pressure as a biologist and commercial versus sport fishing

18) Too many meetings and public hearings

19) The unusual Kokonee salmon of Copper Lake

20) Fish populations in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

21) His opinions on Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

22) Local feelings about Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

23) Distrust of the National Park Service, and wolf predation in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

24) Wildlife regulations in Yellowstone National Park, and his opinion on species reintroduction

25) Fred's opinions about land preservation

26) Park preservation, and tourism

27) Park access development

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: Nebraska\ U.S. Navy\ University of Wyoming\ fisheries management degree\ Wyoming Department of Fish and Game\ Williams, Fred -- marriage\ Alaska -- move to\ Williams, Fred -- 4 children\ Glennallen\ Alaska Department of Fish and Game\ Williams, Fred -- retired

Section 2: Williams, Fred -- fathers interest in history\ Williams, Fred -- amateur excavating\ Williams, Fred -- fathers death\ automobile -- Model T\ Williams, Fred -- service\ Model T -- sold

Section 3: Williams, Fred -- collector\ rural Alaska -- traits\ snowmachine\ Wilson, Jack\ Copper Center\ snowmachine -- restored

Section 4: fisheries biologist\ Upper Susitna\ Copper River drainage\ Prince William Sound\ Valdez\ sport fish\ job -- description\ fisherman\ public relations -- work\ salmon -- counting\ counting -- aerial

Section 5: Wilson, Jack\ pilots\ airplane -- Super Cub\ stream count

Section 6: flying -- low level\ Copper River\ Gulkana River\ story -- salmon counting\ lake -- landing

Section 7: lake -- background info\ fish -- populations

Section 8: changes\ field work\ office work\ reports\ computer age\ Williams, Fred -- resistance to computers\ biologists -- field work\ Williams, Fred -- retired

Section 9: equipment\ oxygen -- determination\ winter\ lakes\ lakes -- determining oxygen levels\ Alaska Department of Fish and Game -- management\ early days -- preservation\ present time -- conservation\ game -- populations\ computers

Section 10: world -- fast moving\ Williams, Fred -- hard to adjust\ changes -- on ground\ Alaska\ Wyoming\ Alaska -- environment\ climate conditions\ over hunting\ political field

Section 11: animal rights groups\ environmental group\ Williams, Fred -- first environmentalist\ wildlife -- management\ game biologist\ goldfish -- rights

Section 12: game biologist -- frustration\ subsistence\ Congress -- blame\ game -- limits\ Natives\ non-Natives\ Federal government -- responsibility for discrimination problems\ subsistence -- racial problems

Section 13: regulations -- hunting\ land \ more regulations

Section 14: fisheries -- problems\ opportunity\ environment -- delicate\ lake -- availability\ lakes -- "Lower 48"\ Gulkana River\ resource -- fish\ stream -- rehabilitation\ fishing -- opportunities\ bush pilot\ road -- build

Section 15: Gulkana River -- description\ fishing -- association problems\ fisherman -- spread out\ regulations

Section 16: Summit Lake\ bush pilots -- illegally stocking lakes\ rainbow trout\ resources -- fishing pressure

Section 17: fisheries biologist -- problems\ fisherman -- commercial\ fisherman -- sport\ fisherman -- subsistence\ fisherman -- personal use\ dip net\ Chitina\ Gulkana\ fishwheel\ diplomacy\ wildlife management

Section 18: meetings\ public hearings\ committees

Section 19: Allin, Roger\ fish -- unusual populations\ Wrangell Mountains\ Copper Lake\ fish -- Kokanee salmon\ fish -- red salmon\ fish -- fresh water\ Kokanee -- description of\ Copper Lake

Section 20: Summit Lake\ fish -- indigenous\ fish -- Dolly Varden\ streams\ Dolly Varden -- description\ lakes -- winter\ Wrangell-St. Elias -- fish populations

Section 21: park -- unnecessary\ park -- use\ land -- development\ guides\ hunters\ fishermen\ Wilson, Jack\ scientific work\ park -- visitors\ Wrangell-St. Elias National Park\ Yellowstone National Park

Section 22: park -- preserve\ park -- regulations\ park -- future\ park rangers\ Williams, Fred -- upset over park\ park -- resignation to\ local reaction\ park -- establish

Section 23: National Park Service -- distrust of\ Alaska Department of Fish and Game\ wildlife\ wolf -- control\ wolf -- predation

Section 24: Yellowstone National Park\ hunting -- privileges\ fisheries\ species -- native to area\ Bremner, John \ Copper River

Section 25: land -- impact\ land -- protection\ development\ mining\ Kennecott -- closure\ miners -- rights\ mining -- limit

Section 26: land -- conservation\ park -- visitors\ park -- "artificial wilderness experience"

Section 27: population -- growth\ land -- use\ visitor's center\ park -- development\ McCarthy Road