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Celia M. Hunter
Achievement In: Conservation; environmental activism
Celia lived an adventuresome, varied and inspiring life. She arrived in Fairbanks, Jan.1, 1947, after spending 27 days ferrying a plane from Seattle. Needing a job,she worked as a flight attendant on the first tourism flights in Alaska. In 1952, she co-founded and ran, with longtime friend, Ginny Wood, and her husband, Morton, one of the first ecotourism lodges in the country, Camp Denali. She helped create the first statewide conservation organization, the Alaska Conservation Society (ACS), in 1960 in a (successful) effort to establish the Arctic National Wildlife Range. She, and others involved in ACS, lead the fight against major proposals like the Rampart Dam and Project Chariot as well as worked on community environmental issues such as preserving open space and developing trail systems in Fairbanks.
On the national stage, she was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior in 1972 to the joint Federal State Land Use Planning Commission. In 1977, she was appointed interim executive director of the Wilderness Society, making her the first woman to head a national environment movement. In 1980 she co-founded the Alaska Conservation Foundation and served on its board for many years. She wrote a weekly opinion column for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner through the years.
Celia, with her friend Ginny, are credited as the creators of the conservation movement in Alaska. She was an outstanding leader who through her high spirits, integrity, knowledge and love of Alaska inspired untold numbers to become environmental activists. Her influence is well summarized in a statement by former President Jimmy Carter: ”Although it would be difficult to name one specific contribution for which Celia will be best remembered, her leadership of Alaska’s environmental movement from infancy to its status today will surely be among her lasting legacies”.
Sierra Club: John Muir Award
Alaska Conservation Foundation: Lifetime Achievement Award (awarded for the first time to Celia and Ginny Wood)
Sherry Simpson, Defenders of the Land, Alaska Magazine, Sept. 2002, ps. 30-33.
Jessica Wiles, Celia M. Hunter Life and Leadership, ACF Intern Project.