For Our Children’s Future

A guest post by Susan Alexander, San Francisco

Caribou_and_calfI have had the honor to spend considerable time in the Arctic Refuge, much of it on the coastal plain. I’ll never forget my first backpack. As we emerged from the glorious mountains, I thought to myself the plain will be a letdown. How wrong I was.

The coastal plain has a unique magic that can be seen in the distant, watery eyes of those who have experienced it. Its tundra is a tiny, delicate forest dotted with nests and burrows. Its rolling expanse made intimate by the sea ice to the north and the ragged mountains to the south. On one of my trips that started in the mountains and headed south, I found myself yearning to head north to the plain. I felt the pull of the pregnant caribou.

It has been 10 years since my last trip there. Each year when I know the caribou are arriving to calve and nurse their young, my soul travels with them to its true home. I relive my many wonderful adventures backpacking, rafting and kayaking in the refuge. But my body aches for not being able to join them. And my need to share this special place with my almost 9-year-old daughter is overwhelming.

The thought that it might be lost for a few months of oil and corporate profit–and that it might not be there to share with her or her children–horrifies me. That Congress could be so ignorant and shortsighted is unfathomable. I can only hope they open their eyes to what is at stake in our Far North.