Oral History Interviews:

Jim Rearden

Jim Rearden first came to Alaska in 1947 to work as a "stream guard" for the federal government. He returned several years later (following college) to develop a wildlife management curriculum at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Several of Rearden's students went on to distinguished careers in the wildlife profession, including: Jim Brooks, Dave Klein, Ron Skoog and Bob Hinman.

Within a few short years, Rearden realized that the academic world was "...not for me." He wanted more "adventure." Jim moved his family to Homer. For a couple of years, he bounced from job to job, trying to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. During this period, Rearden began writing articles for outdoor magazines.

Throughout the 1960's, Jim worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as a Fisheries Biologist. He strived to reverse the mis-management which had occurred under the federal system prior to statehood. Rearden shares two semi-humorous stories of how he converted notorious "creek robbers," i.e., commercial fishermen who routinely violated the regulations. He also describes two close calls while flying in small, single-engine aircraft as part of his official duties. During his limited free time, Jim continued to write.

Two major changes occurred at the end of the decade. Rearden was offered a position as Outdoor Editor for Alaska magazine. In addition, he was appointed to serve on the Fish & Game Board. The former position allowed Jim to make a living. The latter gave him a forum to implement two major changes to wildlife management in the state:

  1. Removal of the bounty for wolves, and
  2. prohibition of hunting big game animals the same day that a hunter flew in a small airplane.

Over the years, Rearden has become the dean of Alaska outdoor authors. He has expanded from articles in magazines upward to numerous books. His biographies of Sidney Huntington, Frank Glaser, Sam White and Slim Moore are masterpieces of their genre.

Throughout this recording, Rearden shares both detailed accounts of personal experiences in the wilderness of Alaska, as well as his evaluations of the major biological and ethical considerations which have influenced outdoorsmen in Alaska since prior to statehood.

Click here for excerpt from Rearden interview (MP3)

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