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Originally from Ohio, Dave Schmitz graduated from Hiram College in 1972, and decided to go to graduate school in Alaska. After one semester of graduate work in ecology, however, he realized that what he really wanted to do was work in the Brooks Range. In 1973, Dave started trapping in the Alatna River area, and continued to trap and operate a guiding business in the area before Gates of the Arctic National Park was established. During the early days of planning for Alaska's national parks, Dave traveled with and guided John Kauffmann who did the initial planning for the area. At the time of his 1992 interview, Dave was working as a seasonal ranger for Gates of the Arctic National Park stationed in Bettles, Alaska, and continued to run his winter trapline. He has guided many wilderness adventures throughout the Brooks Range and enjoys hunting, trapping and raising animals on his 320-acre farm in North Pole, Alaska.