One Week Left to Be Heard: Save The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The Alaskan Arctic is a place most people only dream about.
Endless daylight alternates with constant, freezing night. The Northern Lights illuminate wilderness rivers flowing from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean. Polar bears, caribou, moose, grizzlies, Arctic fox, and seals depend on this extraordinary, but harsh environment for their survival.
Even with all the unique beauty and diversity the Alaskan landscape has to offer, it has been a political battleground for over 30 years. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a national treasure which sustains more biological diversity than any other Arctic protected region, yet is constantly under attack by the oil industry. Big Oil wants to move their big drill rigs into the Arctic refuge, and are throwing around their big money on Capitol Hill to try to get their way. Under current law, Congress must approve any resource extraction activity on the refuge, including oil and gas drilling.
Right now, there are several proposals in Congress to drill for oil and gas in 1 million acres of the Arctic Refuge’s Coastal Plain. That’s why this region (a.k.a. the 1002 Area) is in desperate need of wilderness protection. In addition to supporting distinctive wildlife like muskoxen, a variety of waterfowl, diverse insects, and thousands of migratory birds, the Coastal Plain is critical for caribou herds that travel there in the summer months to birth and raise their calves.In fact, the Coastal Plain is known as the “Sacred Place Where Life Begins” to the native Gwich’in Nation, who have occupied this area for as long as 20,000 years and depend on the Porcupine caribou herd for their survival.
This fall, the Fish & Wildlife Service released a revised draft of the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Arctic Refuge. These documents are reworked periodically for each refuge and contain necessary guidelines for long-term management. The draft CCP for the Arctic Refuge lists several management plan alternatives, including a recommendation that the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain be designated a wilderness area, protecting it from oil and gas extraction.
The Fish & Wildlife Service will consider public comments before selecting a preferred plan, giving Americans everywhere the opportunity to protect this critical calving ground and diverse habitat from unnecessary resource extraction. The Coastal Plain is in serious jeopardy from the proposed drilling and the more comments sent in, the more of an impact we can make on the decision.
If you feel the Arctic Refuge’s Coastal Plain deserves wilderness protection from big oil, we need YOU to send the Fish and Wildlife Service a comment. Please submit a comment by November 15th, 2011 and together we can keep Alaska wild!