Obama’s Arctic Proposal Would Protect Arctic Foxes

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An Arctic fox blends in with the snowy landscape. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant, Isobel Wayrich.

As the Northeast prepares for Arctic-like weather  this week, the Obama administration took a big step toward permanent protection of the incredible Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska.

The Arctic Refuge is wild, spectacular, and it belongs to all Americans. The Refuge’s Coastal Plain in particular provides a home for wildlife like muskoxen, wolves, caribou, Arctic foxes, mother polar bears and their cubs.  Birds flock here to nest from every state in the union and six continents. And yet, its very existence remains under constant threat from outside interests that want to plunder it for short-term profit.

With the release of a new “Comprehensive Conservation Plan” for the Arctic Refuge, the Obama administration became the first in history to make a Wilderness recommendation for the Refuge’s Coastal Plain.  It’s big news because it would finally reverse the longstanding Reagan era recommendation to drill for oil in the Coastal Plain. The Wilderness recommendation sends the message to Congress that the administration – like the American people – wants to see Congress finally act to protect this sacred place. Only Congress can pass a Wilderness bill to once and for all safeguard this American icon from risky oil and gas development.

The Arctic Refuge represents our nation’s finest example of intact, naturally functioning Arctic and subarctic ecosystems.  It is called the “American Serengeti” by some because it is one of the only places on earth where large herds of caribou are free to roam, similar to the days when herds of buffalo roamed the West.

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For thousands of years, the Gwich’in people have regarded the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge as “Iizhik Gwat’san Gwandaii Goodlit” or “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins,” because it has been the most frequently used birthing and nursery grounds for the migratory Porcupine caribou herd. This massive caribou herd, and the Arctic Refuge in general, provides the foundation for the social, economic and spiritual fabric of the lives of Gwich’in and Inupiat people.  Preserving the Arctic Refuge is a matter of basic human rights for the people who deserve to be able to continue their tradition of living off their ancestral lands.

Like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and all the majestic lands protected by proud generations before us –- thank you, President Obama, for calling on Congress to designate this sacred place as Wilderness.  We hope Congress will heed your call.

Thank President Obama by retweeting the following message.

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