T-minus 9 days

Jun 12, 2012 | 0 comments

Little by little I’m getting a stronger grasp of what life is holding in store for me over the coming months. I finally heard from my supervisor today, and after yet another background check we got down to business on logistics.

My schedule will be starting off with a couple days of work and then basic aviation training and operational leadership training in a neighboring town, followed by an overflight tour of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (known as BELA), where my work will be focused for the rest of the year.

After that it becomes a little less clear, but I will most likely soon be spending a week backpacking through BELA with some of the other staff to get photos and video footage, as well as taking notes for the written content of the visitor’s guide. I honestly can’t think of a much cooler job than this.

That said, I owe BELA a little shine in the spotlight since I covered Nome yesterday.

Besides being one of the most remote preserves in the country, BELA is both environmentally and archaeologically significant. Before 12,000 years ago, the land between North America and Russia was exposed in that region  (called Beringia) due to lower sea levels, providing a migration route for early humans and other life forms. These humans were hunter-gatherers, following herds of large mammals, and eventually most populations moved south — some likely as far as South America, although there is some discontinuity in the archaeological record for this. I really hope to learn more about it there, and see what the local perspective is on the topic and their latest findings.

Animated image of the land bridge
(from Wikipedia)

Environmentally, BELA is interesting because of its location, extreme climate, and volcanic history. It is the home of red foxes, least weasels, caribou, bears, wolves, muskox, and migratory birds among other species, as well as arctic plant communities, coastal formations, and hot springs.

All I can say is, despite my growing nervousness about taking off on my own to live there for 9 months, I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work in this amazing place. Most people will never even have the chance to go there, much less get paid to work there.


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