Category Archives: Forest Service

Lingering among the brown bears of Pack Creek

With a reputation steeped in lore and a history spotted with imperfections, Admiralty Island bruins find refuge, harmony

This article appeared in the August 12 issue of The Juneau Empire

Photo by Amy Condra, A brown bear sow and two cubs find repose on the banks of Pack Creek on Admiralty Island in July. “We manage Pack Creek so that our human presence is as benign as possible,” said Harry Tullis, U.S. Forest Service Lead Wilderness Ranger for Pack Creek. “We’re just a background to their normal activities.”

by Amy Condra

Raindrops drum on the Cessna’s aluminum floats, adding an urgent rhythm to our mission as one by one we ease ourselves out of the plane and into the shallows.

Clad in waterproof jackets and rubber boots we splash to shore, but reaching land doesn’t improve anything as far as the rain goes; there is no shelter as we stand on a gravel bar beneath a lowering sky.

Nobody is complaining, because our attention has been caught by something more compelling than the weather: Someone has spotted a bear.

“Oh my God!” exclaims a young woman in our group, as the rest of us squint and strain to make sense of a blurry shape far ahead of us.

I fumble for my binoculars, scanning the mud flat at Pack Creek.

And there it is: A brown bear walking along the stream’s rocky banks.

The animal moves in a way that seems almost casual. Then suddenly, swiftly, it plunges its paw into the creek; water flies in all directions as the bear pulls out a wriggling pink salmon.
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Packing a digital punch

This article first appeared in the April 23, 2011 issue of The Juneau Empire

by Amy Condra

Photo by Amy Condra, Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center Director Ron Marvin adjusts a telescope that will transmit images of wildlife, such as far away mountain goats, to a 55-inch screen mounted in the visitor center.

Across the lake from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, a mountain goat forges a slow and steady path up a cliff that rises far above the center’s standard vantage point.

“Many of our visitors couldn’t see them,” said the center’s director, Ron Marvin. “So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if we could see the goats up on a screen?’”

This summer, it’s possible — telescopes will track these and other animals, and transmit their images, in real-time, to a 55-inch screen.

The screen is one of two that has recently been acquired and mounted by the center, and each will show a variety of graphic

Laurie Craig, an interpreter with the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, said that such updated technologies are playing an unprecedented role at the center. 

“They provide flexibility and an array of new opportunities for educating our visitors,” Craig said. “With large video monitors that are incredibly clear and brilliant, we can show off historic as well as contemporary photos. The blue ice images are spectacular!”

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