'Reality' TV may be coming to a wildlife refuge near you

Feb 19, 2018

For years Alaska has been fertile ground for reality TV shows - not the kind where you get voted off the island or some bachelor gives you a rose - the kind where camera crews follow around real Alaskans, doing real things. Think "Life Below Zero" more than "Alaska Bush People."

Now, a production company wants to add the men and women of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to the mix.

"I know that the same group has done some filming on national wildlife refuges in the Lower 48. And they were wanting to also include refuges in Alaska," said Steve Miller, the deputy refuge manager. "So it's not an Alaska-center show, I don't think, it's more of an outdoor career type show on what we do."

Wednesday, a two-week period began that allows people to comment on the compatibility of TV production inside the refuge boundaries. The compatibility determination will allow drone use, but will not coordinate helicopter filming with refuge operations due to noise and disturbance considerations.

"We're not saying that this film crew cannot go out and contract with an outside grew and get some aerial filming done. It's just that we're not going to coordinate our people's time in order to do that," he said. "We're not going to contribute to any of that disturbance."

Miller says the refuge has a lot to offer.

"Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, as an Alaska Refuge, is definitely very unique. We have everything pretty much the other refuges have, plus throw in a million visitor use days a year. So I'm not sure what it is they'll select to film once they get up here. What they really asked to do is tag along on "a day in the life of," and whoever they select to go with each day," he said. "They're just wanting to get some good scenery and pick apart what everyone's job is."

Miller said he's not sure of the producer's timeline, but he indicated they were looking to film during at least three, if not all four seasons.

"It just depends on when they say they're coming up here. We're not going to adjust our schedule to fit their time frame," he said. "You know when they say they're coming up, we'll just give them a list of what folks are doing at that time and they can just pick and choose who it is they're going to be going with."

The production company, "Invent TV," could not immediately be reached for comment. On its website no current programs are listed, but the co-CEOs list various other projects they've been involved with in the past, such as "Swamp People," "BBQ Pit Masters," "L.A. Ink," and "The Jacksons: The Next Generation."

The comment period ends on February 28th, and a final compatibility determination will be made after March 15.