November 6, 2015
Contact: Amy Craver
Florence Rucker Collins, 94, an important contributor to Denali National Park and Preserve’s long history of scientiﬁc research and a charter member of the Denali Subsistence Resource Council (SRC), died Wednesday morning at the Fairbanks Pioneer Home.
“Alaskans and Denali National Park and Preserve have lost a great friend,” said Amy Craver, Cultural Resources and Subsistence Program Manager at Denali National Park and Preserve, “Florence was a researcher, and an advocate for subsistence. She led Denali’s SRC for over 20 years.”
According to Craver, as chair of the SRC since its inception in 1984 Collins first offered her help and wisdom to park staff in response to the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Collins was an invaluable asset to the park; she helped park staff develop policies to address issues such as access, customary and traditional determination, seasonal harvest limits, eligibility requirements for subsistence activities, cabin use, needed research, and how to reduce or avoid user conflicts.
In 2007 the National Park Service (NPS) presented Collins with the NPS Summit Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of her two decades of leadership on the Denali SRC, her contributions to the park’s subsistence program and her conservation voice throughout Alaska’s interior.
Collins, a geologist and aviator, was a strong advocate of the provisions for subsistence in ANILCA that ensure subsistence activities continue to be available to rural residents.
“She was a champion for promoting cooperation between subsistence users and Denali National Park and Preserve,” said Craver.
“Florence's life of adventure, public service and leadership inspires the belief that one woman's life can be exemplary in many ways,” wrote Molly McKinley, Outdoor Recreation Planner, on the Denali National Park and Preserve website at nps.gov/articles/akwomen-florence-collins.
Collins first came to Alaska as a visitor in 1948 and returned in 1949 as a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Fairbanks.
A pilot since the World War II years, she joined a distinguished group of Fairbanks women pilots and studied vegetated sand dunes northeast of Lake Minchumina, a community with a large landing strip located near the northwest corner of Denali National Park and Preserve. In 1985 she published a scholarly article on the vegetated sand dunes of the area.
She and her late husband, Dick Collins, built a home at Lake Minchumina and raised three children, including "Trapline Twins" Miki and Julie Collins.
With her breadth of experience and conservation ethic, she was an important conservation voice throughout Alaska’s interior.