Alaska Geographic Receives Publication of the Year Award in Partnership with USFWS

ANCHORAGE, AK – The Alaska Geographic Association is thrilled to announce that its newly released book, titled Canoeing Yaghanen: A Guide to Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s Swan Lake and Swanson River Canoe Systems has been awarded Publication of the Year by the Public Lands Alliance. This prestigious recognition celebrates the outstanding achievement of a book or other publication created through the collaboration between a nonprofit organization and a public land entity. The award acknowledges innovation in educating and interpreting public lands, as well as the substantial impact made on a wide-reaching audience.

Canoeing Yaghanen Book
Canoeing Yaghanen Book

Alaska Geographic would like to thank our agency partner, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Their invaluable support and collaboration have made this achievement possible. Additionally, we extend our appreciation to the talented author, David Atcheson, whose years of exploring the canoe systems have enriched the book. Furthermore, we would like to acknowledge graphic designer Kathy Lepley for her exceptional skills in creating a visually stunning and engaging design for the publication. The book is rugged, printed on waterproof paper, and wire bound, enabling field use without worry of damage. Clear route data and colorful photographs build confidence and excitement about visiting the canoe systems.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s Swan Lake and Swanson River canoe systems are spectacular wilderness recreation areas in Southcentral Alaska that are underutilized. Refuge leadership expressed concern over flat or declining visitation to the area and asked Alaska Geographic to create a guidebook to encourage more visitation. Refuge leadership

also expressed interest in providing maps enhanced by GPS/GIS data that could be downloaded onto handheld electronic devices and smartphones often carried by visitors venturing onto the canoe systems. Canoeing Yaghanen was created to provide comprehensive information about the area, including cultural history, route mapping, campsite and portage data, wildlife safety, and sportfishing advice published in the book.

Author David David Atcheson stands with Canoe
Author David David Atcheson

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Services Manager Matt Conner said the award illustrates the value of collaboration and partnership, “This award is a wonderful example of how we can work together… Wonderful to see all these views come together, and in the end, the result is a publication that will increase our visitors’ knowledge and understanding of the [canoe] trail system. We wouldn’t have that without this partnership.”

The GIS/GPS data was gathered through a grant from the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) and published online, free to the public. This map can be reviewed on a computer or downloaded to handheld devices. The data collected by the RTCA grant was published on the ARC GIS platform with the help of a private GIS company that donated its time to compile the data and add symbols to make the online maps accessible to the general public.

Finally, the project wouldn’t have been possible without funding provided by USFWS. The funding not only covered the author and designer’s expenses but also allowed for the use of the special water-resistant paper.

“As an organization dedicated to enhancing public understanding and appreciation of Alaska’s unique natural and cultural heritage, Alaska Geographic is honored to receive the Publication of the Year award,” said Alaska Geographic Executive Director Andy Hall. “We remain committed to fostering collaboration, innovation, and excellence in our ongoing efforts to educate and inspire the public about Alaska’s remarkable public lands.”

Canoers at Dolly Varden Lake in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, USFWS Photo/Facebook



Alaska Geographic is the nonprofit Cooperating Association to the Alaska US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and Alaska State Parks. Our mission is to connect people with Alaska’s public lands by creating and delivering exceptional educational programs and products that foster stewardship, understanding, and appreciation of Alaska’s natural and cultural heritage. Since 1959 Alaska Geographic has raised and returned more than $23 million to our agency partners. For more information about Alaska Geographic and its initiatives, please visit our website.


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