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DNR employees and other Alaskans receive national conservation award

Left to right: Marcilynn Burke, Department of the Interior, Acting Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management; Lesli Schick, Alaska Department of Natural Resources; Jaime Schmidt, USDA-USFS Chugach National Forest; Judy Bittner, President, Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance; David Hayes, Department of the Interior, Deputy Secretary; Kevin Keeler, BLM Iditarod NHT Administrator; Rick Thompson, Alaska Department of Natural Resources; Karen Kelleher, BLM Anchorage District Manager; Mike Pool, BLM Acting Director.

Left to right: Marcilynn Burke, Department of the Interior, Acting Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management; Lesli Schick, Alaska Department of Natural Resources; Jaime Schmidt, USDA-USFS Chugach National Forest; Judy Bittner, President, Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance; David Hayes, Department of the Interior, Deputy Secretary; Kevin Keeler, BLM Iditarod NHT Administrator; Rick Thompson, Alaska Department of Natural Resources; Karen Kelleher, BLM Anchorage District Manager; Mike Pool, BLM Acting Director.

(Anchorage, AK) – A number of Alaskans and government agencies, including the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, recently won a “Partners in Conservation” award for their work to protect and preserve the National Iditarod Historic Trail.

“The Iditarod Trail is a top recreational attraction in Alaska and has significant cultural importance to our state. At DNR, we are working with other agencies and the public to protect the trail with public easements and ensure that it remains a viable, functional trail system well into the future,” said Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan.

Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes presented the award in late October to members of the Iditarod National Historic Trail Centennial Partnership, which is led by the non-profit Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance with participation by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance, and DNR’s South Central Regional Land Office.  It was one of seventeen awards granted by the Department of Interior this year to partnerships that promote conservation, protect natural and cultural resources, use innovative approaches for resource management, and encourage youth involvement.

DNR’s work in the partnership has involved securing more than 1,600 miles of public easements along the Iditarod trail, authorizing trail improvement projects and securing six sites for construction of safety cabins along the trail. DNR State Historic Preservation Officer Judy Bittner is the current president of the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance and accepted the award on behalf of the partnership.  

The DNR Southcentral Land Office has also worked to restore two historic cabins and participated in the Iditarod Trail to Every Classroom training and education program designed to increase student awareness of public land stewardship issues. The land office continues to secure additional trail easements from non-state landowners, with the ultimate goal of protecting the entire length of the Historic Iditarod Trail for recreational use. Further information on the Iditarod Trail project may be obtained from the following website: http://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/iditarod/. To read more about the award, go to http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2012/october/nr_10_19_2012.html.

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