When most visitors drop by the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, they don't realize the book store is operated by the Alaska Natural History Association, which publishes many of the books sold there.
"ANHA is a nonprofit support partner to land management agencies in Alaska," said Executive Director Charlie Money of Anchorage. "We work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and Alaska state parks in providing educational services and educational materials."
The group's board members will be in Juneau this weekend for their annual board meeting.
Keeping a relatively low profile for several decades, ANHA has operated at sites such as the Mendenhall Glacier and the Eagle River section of the Iditarod Trail. At 36 different Alaskan sites, the group determines what materials are needed and has those materials written, edited and published. In remote places, such as King Salmon, they may be the only book store and may be expected to pitch in with school book sales.
ANHA was incorporated in 1959 but existed before statehood as the Mt. McKinley Park Association. It slowly grew as other parks and refuges were established. In recent years, ANHA has taken a broader approach to helping its partners get exhibits and other projects together and reach their educational goals, Money said.
"Our mission remains the same: To educate the public and increase their understanding of the value of natural resources contained in public lands," Money said. "We are not an advocacy organization; we are an educational organization working hand-in-hand with public partners, doing things they are not able to do."
ANHA is beginning a major push for memberships. Benefits include receiving a twice-annual newsletter and a 15 percent discount at all of their sites in Alaska as well as at most Forest Service visitor centers through the United States. Memberships are $15, but may increase to $20 by summer 2001.
Of the 1,300 new memberships so far in 2000, Money estimates 1,000 of those who signed up were tourists, and he hopes to increase this number dramatically in coming years.
"It's a great opportunity for (tourists) to stay in touch with things that made their visit special," he said.
The Alaska Natural History Association will hold its annual board meeting Friday through Sunday in Juneau. The public is invited to attend a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the glacier visitor center.
"One of the reasons we are having the reception in the remodeled visitor center is to acquaint some of our board with one of the older Forest Service visitor centers in the country," Money said.
For more information, check the ANHA Web site at www.alaskanha.org.