The good news is there may be an opportunity to protect parts of the Arctic Refuge from its greatest threat – oil development.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is finishing an updated Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the refuge, presenting the Department of the Interior a unique opportunity to recommend that parts of the refuge be designated as wilderness. Such a recommendation would be a historic step toward preserving America’s last great wilderness for future generations.
If protected as wilderness, the refuge would finally be protected from proposals to open it to oil drilling.
About the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:
The oil and gas lobby has proposed opening the Arctic Refuge since the Reagan Administration. Seldom does a year go by that Congress does not introduce a bill to open the refuge to oil drilling.
The Wilderness Society and partner conservation groups have held the line against every attempt to open the refuge to drilling, but until the coastal plain of the refuge is designated as wilderness, the attempts at access will continue and the refuge will be at risk.
Considered the crown jewel of our refuge system, the refuge is home to epic caribou migrations that send rivers of caribou flowing through the land.
The refuge includes 19 million acres of some of the most pristine and spectacular wilderness left in the world. It is an irreplaceable landscape that is home to polar bears, wolves, caribou and other Arctic species.
It is vitally important for the Department of the Interior to know that Americans want the crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System permanently off-limits to oil rigs.
Map of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by USFWS.