• Birch Hill Park: A Case Study of Interpretive Planning

      Combs, David (School of Agriculture and Land Resources Management, Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, 1979-03)
      The Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for the planning, acquisition, development, improvement, and maintenance of lands and facilities to meet the community's needs for park and open space lands in accordance with established standards. 1 Current department emphasis is on sports facilities and programs. Some small neighborhood parks and the Growden Park and Picnic Area are the only significantly developed areas in which organized sports are not emphasized. Birch Hill Park was acquired to expand the spectrum of recreational resources and opportunities available to borough residents. Cross-country skiing, both competitive and recreational, is an important winter activity, but the area's size and its natural environment provide for a variety of other uses. The park has a summer youth camp, and planned developments will enhance the opportunities for visitors of all ages to picnic, hike, and study nature. This paper presents a direct contribution to the diversification of the borough's recreational program by highlighting the interpretive resources and opportunities of the park and by making specific recommendations for the implementation of an interpretive program. The interpretive plan proposed here can be integrated with the comprehensive development planning for Birch Hill Park now underway at the Parks and Recreation Department. Preliminary research for this study was done as a University of Alaska class project in the spring semester of 1976. The students in LR 493, Interpretive Services, developed basic information on the natural and cultural resources of Birch Hill and its surrounding region. They also identified policy gaps and provided general guidance for interpretation in the park.2 The plan presented here is a fo llow-up to that work. Additional fieldwork and library research have been done to supplement the earlier effort, and the implementation aspects have been made more specific with regard to the trail and visitor center recommendations. The process followed in this study is adapted from Perry J. Brown's Procedures for Developing an Interpretive Master Plan.