Katmai park staff is working to establish a close relationship with the Bristol Bay Borough School in Naknek, attended by about 130 K-12 students from Naknek, South Naknek, and King Salmon. Park rangers visit classrooms and get kids outdoors for place-based experiential education programs. Additionally, rangers are connecting with schools elsewhere in Alaska via a new distance-learning program that uses video chat to interact in real time with students.
Katmai's infrastructure exists mainly in the Brooks Camp area, arguably the best place in the world to view brown bears in the wild. Accommodating growing visitation necessitates facility improvements to ensure that salmon and bears stay protected and the people stay safe. New or updated visitor centers at both Brooks Camp and in the gateway community of King Salmon, along with associated infrastructure, would improve the visitor experience.
Park resource managers work closely with partners to further understanding of the cultural history, physical landscape, and complex ecosystem of the Alaska Peninsula. One proposed project would document traditional Alaska Native place names for bodies of water, bays, mountains, valleys, promontories or other geographic landmarks in these units, thus also greatly enhancing our knowledge of how the parklands facilitated subsistence and functioned as a cultural crossroads for at least 9,000 years. Other ongoing or planned research involves looking at the nature and diversity of bear genomics at Brooks Camp and elsewhere in the park, and monitoring climate change impacts.
Park managers recently completed a Climate Friendly Parks Action Plan demonstrating steps taken so far to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement sustainable practices. Efforts are ongoing to improve capacity for generating power locally using renewable resources and addressing waste disposal challenges through composting—both potentially cost-saving as well as environmentally responsible, especially in Katmai's far off-the-grid Alaska setting.
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