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Book details
  • Genre:NATURE
  • SubGenre:Environmental Conservation & Protection
  • Language:English
  • Pages:184
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098348083

Thirty of Forty in the 49th

Memories of a Wildlife Biologist in Alaska

by Robin West

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"Thirty of Forty in the 49th" shares the conservation history of Alaska through the eyes of a retired biologist. The author reflects on his 30 years working in the far north while on a solo canoe trip in the wilds of the Upper Yukon River 40 years after his first visit there. The book combines an account of the dividing of Alaska's lands through statehood, Native claims, and ultimately as national interest lands set aside for conservation. The author combines Alaska history with tales of survival and legal, political, and natural challenges. From run-ins with grizzly bears to managing diverse programs of multi-million acre national wildlife refuges, the stories document a time of transition in one of the last great wild areas remaining on the planet.
The author came to Alaska as a greenhorn biologist - enthusiastic, but lacking in practical knowledge. The timing was perfect for opportunity: federal legislation was in the works that would change the face of Alaska forever - millions of acres of wild Alaska were being set aside in perpetuity for conservation purposes. The passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) set the stage for the future, both for the land and for those who chose to implement the Act's mandates. It was the perfect environment for a young biologist to learn and contribute to addressing the conservation challenges of Alaska. The author combines Alaska's conservation history with his own experiences, along with many of the risks encountered: less than friendly bears, wildfires, subzero temperatures, and wilderness travel by canoe and bush plane. "Thirty of Forty in the 49th" shares the author's 30 years of employment with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska, highlighting challenges and accomplishments. It shares many personal stories, but also touches on key environmental issues of the time: designation of wilderness, subsistence use of fish and wildlife, and the spiritual connection people have with pristine far away places. The book also touches on the ongoing controversies associated with predator control, oil and gas development, and climate change. From the seat of a canoe on a post-retirement solo trip down the Yukon River, the author reflects and shares both highlights of the current trip and memories from the previous four decades. The author concludes that Alaska and the world are changing, but thanks to the foresight and hard work of many, much of the wild treasures of Alaska are protected - being much the same now as in decades past, and with the hope that they will always remain so.
About the author
Robin West grew up in Grants Pass, Oregon where he discovered his love for nature. He studied biology and fish and wildlife management at Eastern Oregon State, Oregon State University, and the University of Alaska - Fairbanks. Robin spent 35 years working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 30 years of which was in Alaska where he worked as a biologist and refuge manager. He served as a contaminants biologist in Northern Alaska, as the Assistant Project Leader for the Fairbanks Fisheries Assistance Office, and as Assistant Manager for Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. He was an honor graduate of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, served as Refuge Manager of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, and as the Migratory Bird Program Coordinator for Alaska Region before becoming the Project Leader of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge where he served 14 years. Robin was stationed in Portland, Oregon for his last five years where he served as a Refuge Supervisor and as the Regional Chief for the National Wildlife Refuge System for the Pacific Region. Robin, and his wife Shannon, retired near Rogue River, Oregon and continue to be active in conservation endeavors. They travel frequently throughout the world in search of unique wildlife and wild places and return to Alaska often where their three adult children continue to live.