Amanda Williams, Public Outreach Specialist on the Cordova Ranger District

by | VetsWork

Alaska has been called the last frontier, and for good reason. It embodies the spirit of frontier living, where people hunt, fish and gather, an ode to how our ancestors lived. Its beauty is still intact thanks in large part to the people that oversee the land, and their quest to keep it pristine.

The Department of Agriculture’s new US Forest Service came about in the early 1900’s under the Roosevelt Administration. The US Forest Service’s motto “Caring for the land and serving people,” rings true today as it did in its creation, and I am proud to serve my internship on the Cordova Ranger District in Cordova, Alaska for the US Forest.

My journey began at the beginning of February, when it was dark, cold and snowy and raining. There was an overwhelming quality to the landscape during that time of year however, it seemed everything was white: the mountains, the lakes, the trees. It reminded me of the movie White Christmas, half expecting to see Christmas lights strung on houses (which there was a few). My favorite thing I have done here I did that month: hike onto Sheridan Glacier with my supervisor. It was a bucket list trip and it is hard to describe: the bluest blue I have ever seen in the ice caves, glacier ice cracking in the distance, incredible.

Spring melts the snow fast and more wildlife are present. I saw a moose cross the Copper River Highway like he owned the place, and thousands of shorebirds all over the Cooper River Delta. The Shorebird Festival is a big deal here, drawing birds to the chilly mudflats for sustenance and breeding from as far as Chile. Waterfalls can be seen all over now; buds are blooming, and the landscape is slowly turning from white to green.

The people in this community are a big part of what makes this place special, from my observation and experience. A casual hello turns into a telling of life’s ins and outs, people wave with a smile, and sincerity abounds.

Forest Service trails here in Cordova are for every hiking level: super challenging or a meander on a gradual incline. I would say my favorite so far is the Heney Ridge Trail and Crater Lake Trail.

One of my favorite parts of living here is food from the wild: moose, halibut, scallops, oysters and my favorite: the highly sought-after King Salmon.