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Ginny Hill Wood Recieves Fish & Wildlife Service Award for Alaska Conservation

Virginia "Ginny" Hill Wood, 93, recieved a national award for her role in Alaska conservation here in Fairbanks this week that recognized her critical role in many conservation issues starting with the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Fish & Wildlife Service's Citizen's Award to Wood is a fitting tribute to her visionary achievement this year as we celebrate the Arctic Refuge 50th anniversary.

Ginny Hill Wood Recieves Fish & Wildlife Service Award for Alaska Conservation

Conservationist Ginny Hill Wood, FWS Alaska Director Geoff Haskett, FWS Acting Director Rowan Gould Photo by Amy Johnson

Virginia "Ginny" Hill Wood, 93, recieved a national award for her role in Alaska conservation here in Fairbanks this week. The award recognized her critical role in many conservation issues starting with the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (see press release below). The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Citizen's Award to Wood is a fitting tribute to her visionary achievement in this year as we celebrate the Arctic Refuge 50th anniversary. Among Wood's eloquent testimonies and speeches are these words:

"This is the last great wilderness left under the American flag, almost the world. Our children and their children deserve to find some of it as wild, unspoiled, as unique, and as exciting as we have found it." (1958)

"…although there are other parks and monuments and game refuges in Alaska, this would be unique, as it would be the only one that would encompass a true Arctic tundra complex and that has all of the Arctic animals, including the caribou, moose, sheep, wolverine, wolf, lynx, grizzly bear, and polar bear. In no other reserve under the U.S. flag can all of these be found…

The esthetic, spiritual, recreation, and educational values of such an area are those one cannot put a price tag on any more than one can on a sunset, a piece of poetry, a symphony, or a friendship…" (Testimony to Congress on Proposed Arctic National Wildlife Range, 1959)

Press Release from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (August 12, 2010):

Virginia "Ginny" Wood Receives USFWS Citizen’s Award

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today awarded the Service Citizen’s Award to Virginia "Ginny" Wood of Fairbanks, Alaska. The Service Citizen’s Award commends private citizens and organizations for their significant contributions to the mission and goals of the Service. The ceremony took place in a hand-hewn log cabin that Ms. Wood built in the 1950s, and was attended by about a dozen friends and family members.

After serving as a war-plane ferry pilot during World War II, Wood arrived in Alaska in 1947 by flying a war-surplus airplane from Seattle to Fairbanks. Her conservation career began with grassroots organizing that helped convince the Eisenhower Administration to set aside what became the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As part of this organizing effort, Wood co-founded the Alaska Conservation Society, Alaska’s first conservation organization. She also played a significant role in the passage of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which increased the size of the refuge to 19 million acres. Wood had a leading role in the 1950s and ‘60s opposing the proposed Rampart Dam, which would have flooded the entire Yukon Flats, and the Project Chariot proposal, which would have used nuclear explosives to blast a harbor in northwestern Alaska.

Among her many accomplishments, Wood started Alaska’s first ecotourism venture, Camp Denali, at Denali National Park. In addition, she has served as a mentor to countless young emerging conservationists.

"Ginny Wood has left her mark on the landscape of Alaska and made an indelible impression on Alaska’s conservation community, leading by example with passion and vision," said Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould. "Because of her remarkable foresight, some of Alaska’s most treasured places remain untrammeled and are enjoyed by people from throughout the world. With this award, we express our gratitude for Ginny’s efforts."

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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