Guest Writer: “Most Treasured Place”

A guest post by Robert Stagman, M.D., of Mercer Island, Wash.

My wife, Gail and I rafted and hiked through the Arctic Refuge on the Kongakut River for 10 days in late June, 1992. We were surrounded by millions of acres of beautiful wilderness in the 24-hour light. Along with our guide and one other adventurer, we witnessed the Porcupine Caribou Herd on its grueling calving migration from the Yukon Territory to the Arctic Refuge coastal plain. The experience was magnificent, and though we have traveled extensively and visited every continent, the Arctic Refuge ranks among our most treasured places. It is both awesome and humbling.

There is, first of all, striking natural beauty with the high peaks of the Brooks Range merging into the multi-colored lowlands laced with wildflowers and studded with wetlands, segmented by meandering rivers flowing into the Beaufort Sea. There is the vastness and remoteness, where the hand of man is truly undetectable and the experience of wildness reaches a pinnacle. But, above all, this place is, in every sense, a refuge, a sanctuary for the myriad species for which its protection means survival so that their story may continue.

We doubt that anyone not blinded by ignorance and greed could possibly move to desecrate this magical place with the machinery of oil exploration when it is so clear that no long term relief for our energy problems will result. Drilling in the Arctic Refuge must be debated vigorously on its merits and cannot be permitted to occur through political subterfuge. There are simply no more places like this.