The iTREC! Class of 2019-2020 met in Anchorage, AK the last week of July for their first of three trainings in place-based service learning. iTREC! is a place-based professional development workshop series that connects communities along the Iditarod National Historic Trail while promoting resource stewardship, recreation, and community engagement. Fourteen teachers from three school districts, Anchorage, Mat-Su. Borough, and Bering Straits, will work with the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance, BLM - Campbell Creek Science Center, and Chugach National Forest staff throughout the year to develop their own curriculum that ties in to the Iditarod National Historic Trail.
As a part of the first week of training, teachers met with a number of partners of the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance during Partner Day, such as Mark Nordman of the Iditarod Trail Committee. Thank you to all of our partners that participated!
Teachers also visited the Botanical Garden for a Geocaching activity.
Congratulation to all of our wonderful teachers for starting on this journey, we can't wait to see the wonderful projects that develop this year!
The Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance accomplished a lot in 2018 with the help of our many partners and volunteers! Originally published in the Winter 2018-2019 "Pathways Across America," a publication of the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS), and our May 2019 Newsletter, take a read through our 2018 accomplishments. We can't wait for what the rest of 2019!
•Hired a summer intern with a PNTS grant for the 40th anniversary of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and the
5oth anniversary of the National Trails System Act to develop social media posts about the historic trail. More than 20 social media posts were created with over 20,000 views and 2,100 interactions.
•Updated and revised the visitor guide for the Iditarod National Historic Trail, which was printed and distributed to communities and partners.
•Partnered with the Seward Iditarod Trail Blazers to print and distribute a trail brochure with a map of the first mile of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and pointing out historic sites along the trail.
•Sponsored an Iditarod Trail to Every Classroom teacher Alumni Workshop in the ninth year of the program. During the first eight years (2010-2018), 120 teachers completed the year-long place-based service learning professional development program that connects youth and communities along the trail, promoting resource stewardship, recreation and community engagement.
•Partners developed a draft Iditarod National Historic Trail Southern Trek Stewardship Plan with the assistance of a Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program grant.
•Successfully organized three first-time volunteer trail events, which experienced strong and enthusiastic community and local business support: Moose Pass Trail near Rocky Creek (400 feet of trail built), Upper Winner Creek (800 feet widened and brushed) and Crow Pass Trail in Girdwood (600 feet improved and widened).
•Established a Challenge Share Agreement with the Chugach National Forest, U. S. Forest Service, to promote the trail, story and stewardship of the Iditarod National Historic Trail.
By Jacob Torres, SCA Intern. Originally published in the Partnership for the National Trails Fall 2018 Pathways publication.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act of 1968, the Partnership for the National Trails System funded youth internships all around the country this summer to give a new generation a unique insight into managing our nation’s most important trails. This is my experience helping with Alaska’s most iconic trail.
Every teenager needs a summer job, right? That’s what I initially thought going into this, but what I was quickly going to find out is that this internship would be so much more than that. I had heard about this opportunity through my mom, who works at the Bureau of Land Management, and as soon as I read the job proposal I was in. They were looking for someone with considerable camera skills to create and distribute media to educate people about the past, present, and future of the Iditarod National Historic Trail, and help with a variety of projects relating to the trail for the summer. Well, I have been a photographer for years, I’m great with technology, I have outreach experience with my college physics club, and I had been developing a growing interest in the outdoors. How soon can I start working?
The first task I set out to complete was becoming an expert on the trail’s history. Before this internship, I (presumably like many others) only thought of two things when I heard the word “Iditarod”: The serum run of 1925, and the dog sled race. After learning about its history, however, what I came to understand is that there is a much deeper history to the trail involving gold and mail transportation, and I began to realize how central the trail was in forming and connecting Alaskan settlements in the early 20th century. The fact that these same trails are available to us for recreational use over 100 years later despite Alaska’s harsh and dynamic landscape is truly amazing, and a testament to the preservation and trail work done over the decades.
One of my primary goals for this summer was to increase public awareness of the Iditarod NHT in order to increase traffic and awareness for those who already did frequent the trail that what they’re hiking on is a part of a historic trail system. Conveniently, this is also the 40th anniversary of the Iditarod Trail being officially recognized as a national historic trail, which tied in very nicely to the message I was sending. Since most of the Iditarod NHT is simply too remote for most people to reach, I used the knowledge I gained from my history research marathon to better guide my judgement on which parts of the trail to highlight for the summer. The trails that are easily accessible already see decent traffic, but I wanted to bring new people to the trail and give them the understanding that they’re hiking on the same route that people took to get across Alaska over 100 years ago.
In addition to getting the word out about the trails themselves, I was also spreading awareness about trail maintenance and stewardship. I had the pleasure of photographing multiple trail work events and getting to spend the day with the wonderful people who take the time out of their day to work on keeping Alaska’s trails healthy and well. Meeting friendly new people, working outside, and getting a guided hike through Alaskan wilderness- why wouldn’t anyone want to come along? Admittedly though it can be a challenge to recruit new volunteers for these types of events when Alaska’s communities are so spread out across the state, but that’s where social media can step in and provide a powerful platform to reach people that we otherwise would be unable to reach through traditional means of advertising. In fact, I overheard that one of the trail work events I went to this summer had the best turnout of any volunteer event they had ever seen. It’s pretty humbling to see firsthand the difference you’ve started to make.
One of the best parts of this internship is knowing that the work I’ve done will continue to benefit others even after I’m gone. As summer ends I leave behind a beautiful collection of high-resolution photos of the trail, new partnership connections, and I’ll continue to see new faces out on the trail thanks to my outreach work. We also got updated visitors guides that I’ve helped distribute, which will bring new visitors to the trail even if they don’t use social media.
As the next generation of explorers step up to take over the management of our National Trails System, we need inspired young minds who have the drive to keep our nation’s trails active and maintained, and who will keep their future generations connected to the trail as well. I hope that more youth across America will get involved and have similarly amazing experiences along the way. This has been a truly unique and incredibly rewarding internship, and one that I won’t soon forget.
Like all Alaskan summers, time has flown by this year - and we have been particularly busy here at the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance!
2018 is the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails Act- and the 40th Anniversary of the Iditarod National Historic Trail! A number of stewardship and recreational events have been held this summer with our partners at the Chugach National Forest, Alaska Trails, REI, and Chugach State Park. If you follow us on Facebook, you have hopefully seen the spectacular photos taken by Alaska Geographic Communications Intern Jacob Torres. We are grateful to have Jacob documenting these wonderful events!
The fun isn't over yet though: Join Chugach National Forest and Alaska Trails in volunteering at Crow Pass August 25th! Registration required.
This summer has seen the rollout of several new Iditarod National Historic Trail stamps for the Passport to your National Parks program! A stamp is now available at the Hope Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum AND on the Alaska Railroad train between Seward and Anchorage. Learn more about the passport program here, and be sure to look for a stamp on your next Iditarod National Historic Trail adventure.
We are also excited to announce that we are partnering with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management – Campbell Creek Science Center, Kenai Mountains - Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the Alaska Office of History and Archaeology to conduct a workshop on “The Power of Place” at Serpentine Hot Springs in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. Teachers from rural communities in the area, including Stebbins, Shishmaref, and Wales, will be attending. Place-based education synthesizes local heritage, culture, landscapes, opportunities, and experiences as a foundation for the study of language arts, math, social studies, science, and other subjects across the curriculum. Place-based education often extends beyond the classroom through participation in community and/or school service projects - we can't wait to hear about all the amazing projects we are sure will be inspired!
Be sure to keep an eye on our Current Events page for upcoming events, and we hope you have a great rest of the summer!
Do you love the Iditarod National Historic Trail, and wish you could stay up to date on the Alliance all the time? Join the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance! You will receive our monthly newsletter The Tripod as a member benefit.
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Retiring Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance board member Leo Rasmussen was presented with a plaque by Alliance President Judy Bittner, at the Alliance's 2017 annual meeting. The honor was in recognition of his many years of service - statewide and nationally - to the Alliance and to the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
Leo was the finish line checker in the first Iditarod Sled Dog Race in 1973; he served on the Race Committee Board for years and was board president from 1988-91.
He served on the board of directors of the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance since its founding in 1999 and was first president of the board.
A long-time resident of Nome, Leo has now moved to Fairbanks.
BLM invites public comment on environmental assessment for permitting of events on the Iditarod Trail.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The BLM is seeking public comment on its Environmental Assessment analyzing effects of winter competitive events and commercial recreational uses of BLM-managed public lands and facilities along the Iditarod Trail.
These events include, but are not limited to, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the Iron Dog (snowmobile) Race, human-powered races, and guided trips which require BLM Special Recreation Permits. The BLM-managed sections of the Iditarod Trail affected by the permits are between the Alaska Range and Nikolai and between Kaltag and Unalakleet.
The BLM strives to be a good neighbor in the communities it serves and welcomes public input on this Environmental Assessment. Please submit comments by Nov. 13, 2017. Comments can be made online at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office. Using the “Advanced Search” function, enter the document number: DOI-BLM-AK-A010-2017-0012-EA.
Comments may also be submitted to the BLM Anchorage Field Office, Attn: Iditarod, 4700 BLM Road, Anchorage, AK 99507.
Crow Pass Trail information from SCA Alaska Leader Team 2017 Final Report, by Whitney Vogel & Nick Batt
Summer has flown by for the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance! While it hasn't snowed in Anchorage yet, the snow is inching closer and closer down the Chugach Mountains. This year has been full of new opportunities for the Alliance as we look to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System in 2018. One such opportunity was sponsoring our first SCA crew this summer to perform trail work in Chugach State Park.
The Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance's longtime Treasurer, supporter, and friend Jules Mead passed away April 18, 2017. An obituary is available from the Frontiersman.
Photographer John Gomes was able to capture some great moments of the event! Here is a look at our table, right in front of the Great Horned Owl. We even spent some time with Miss Rodeo Alaska 2017, Michaila Massong, who was a big fan of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and its history. Thanks for stopping by Michaila!
Check out the rest of the photos from the day at the John Gomes gallery - there are lots of great animals!