Ptarmigan Tracks

The Newsletter of Camp Denali

Online Version 2023


Beyond Sustainability

The amble from Upper Camp toward the Taiga Trail passes through a faint but unmistakable swale in the tundra-covered hillside. This feature is almost as old as Camp Denali itself. When our founders harvested local trees for the construction of Camp’s first structures and winched them down the slope to Nugget Pond, they unwittingly breached the natural insulation of the tundra, inviting thaw, subsidence, and unintended disturbance of the land. From this early lesson, Camp Denali has aspired to advancing its understanding and practices of sustainability.

The goal of sustainability will always afford room for improvement, yet we can celebrate a few achievements. Composting, reuse/recycling, line-drying, greenhouse production, bulk-purchasing, and in-state procurement have been Camp hallmarks since the time of our founders. The only single-use guest amenity in our history, plastic or otherwise, was likely N-95 masks. And this past summer, 96% of our electric power came from our recently-completed 90 Kilowatt solar array.

Yet sustainability, as fervently as we subscribe to it, rings a bit like the medical precept “do no harm.” Is it actually the apex of stewardship, or should we regard it as a bare minimum requirement of entry? Increasingly, the travel industry is beginning to ask not just how do we mitigate harm in the places we operate, but how can we actively foster benefit? A term for this which has been gaining currency is “Regenerative Tourism.” Think of a farmer who not only seeks to conserve soil, water and nutrients, but to actively enhance the growing environment through deliberate practices like soil amendment, crop rotation, nitrogen fixation, and aeration.

Over the past year we’ve begun to more closely examine Camp’s own practices and opportunities, across place and community. In this issue we touch on topics including carbon reduction, citizen science, and inviting traditional knowledge and diverse voices. The recognition that we don’t have all the answers is a key part of the motive in joining this conversation.

Summer Roundup: Beavers, Art Heists, & Road Rallies

© Simon Hamm

A Sense of Place, Reexamined

© Murray Cohen

Special Sightings

© Murray Cohen

2024 Special Emphasis Series

© Megan Meyer

Offsetting the Impacts of Travel

© Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition

An Opportunity for Citizen Science

© Jenny Golding

Looking Back - 60 Years Ago

© Camp Denali archives