More Information: About the Refuge

Refuge_map_1The 19.6 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska is one of the wildest, most pristine places in the United States. The 1.5 million acres of its coastal plain being proposed for oil exploration, often referred to as the 1002 Area, are the most biologically productive part of the Refuge, and the heart of its wildlife activity. A total of 135 bird species have been recorded on the Refuge’s coastal plain, and about 70 of them are regular nesters.

As many as 300,000 snow geese feed on the coastal tundra in the fall before flying on to their wintering grounds, in California’s Central Valley and other western states. Northern pintail ducks, mallards, red-throated loons, tundra swans and white-fronted geese are among the many other migratory species known to inhabit the Arctic coastal plain during the year.

Many other wildlife species rely on the coastal plain. It is the central calving ground for the Porcupine caribou herd, and the most important land denning habitat for polar bears in the Alaskan arctic. It is habitat for wolves and grizzly bears, and year-round home to muskoxen, arctic foxes and wolverines.

Nearly 95 percent of the potential oil reserves area of Alaska’s North Slope are already designated for leasing or open to exploration and drilling. The additional five percent in the Arctic Refuge has been formally protected since the Eisenhower administration for its unique wilderness and wildlife values.