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November 17, 2010

"Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve"

 by Tom Betts

Tom Betts is currently the Chief Ranger at Bandelier National Monument and has spent 28 years in the National Park Service, having worked in a number of western parks including parks in Alaska and Hawaii.  The last park that Tom worked in prior to coming to Bandelier National Monument was Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve where he spent 13 years as the Chitina District Ranger/Pilot; with almost 5 years as the Chitina District Ranger/Chief Pilot and the last 8 months as the Acting Chief Ranger/Chief Pilot.

Southwest Ridge of 12,000 foot Mt. Drum.

Tom's presentation will begin with a brief introduction of his history with the National Park Service (NPS).  He will then will discuss a few of the issues that he dealt with during his 13 years at Wrangell-St. Elias, told through photographs taken while engaged in his daily duties.

If you like mountains, glaciers, and airplanes, then we know you will enjoy this presentation about one of the most unique National Parks in the world, as seen through the eyes of a professional National Park Ranger with a lifetime of experiences under his belt.

Tom with Husky on Floats at Boomerang Lake.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is one of the Alaska monuments set aside by Carter in 1978 as part of 80 million acres of land authorized to be claimed under the Alaska National Interest Lands Claim Act (ANILCA).  In 1980, Congress acted to recognize the monuments as National Parks and Preserves.  Much controversy ensued from residents of the 49th state about the "taking" of lands by the U.S. Government.  Hard feelings exist today and are experienced by NPS staff in many of the ANILCA parks.  Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve was set aside as 13.2 million acres.  The large size was to encompass entire ecosystems of  wetlands, rivers, mountains, and glaciers, and includes many communities within it's boundaries.

Husky at Green Hills Strip on the Nabesna Glacier.

More Bio Information: Tom and his wife Beth are both second generation park rangers, having grown up together in Grand Canyon National Park in the late 60's.  Beth worked seasonally in a number of western parks before becoming permanent.  She has worked as an Interpretive Ranger, a Resource Manager, as well as in law enforcement. Tom and Beth reacquainted back at Grand Canyon where they were married in 1987. They now have two children ages 19 and 17, and Beth is currently the Human Resources officer at Bandelier.

Beth's father retired after a 30 year career, the last 10 as the Unit Manager at Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Monument.  Tom's father retired after a 30 year career as the last "flying" Superintendent of Mt. McKinley National Park, now known as Denali National Park and Preserve.

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