Decades of unrelenting calls from the oil industry to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may finally be stymied—if we act now.The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which manages the Arctic Refuge, is considering recommending wilderness designation for the refuge’s coastal plain, where oil and gas companies have lobbied to drill since the 1980s.
In fact, pro-industry members of Congress have made attempts to open the Refuge almost every single year since the Reagan administration.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has included a plan to protect the wildlife-rich coastal plain as one of several options identified by the agency in its draft plan for how the refuge will be managed for the next 15 years.
Protection of the refuge is only one of several options the agency may choose. A groundswell of public comments, however, could help ensure the right decision.
The refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan, which is being revised, presents all of us an opportunity to take action to protect the Arctic Refuge.
If the Fish and Wildlife Service does not protect the Arctic Refuge, the threat of oil and gas drilling in one of the world’s greatest remaining wild places will continue unabated.
More about what's at stake in the Arctic Refuge
What’s at stake is America’s last great frontier, a vast land of wild tundra plains and epic migrations of caribou herds. From the boreal forests of the Porcupine River uplands to the slopes of the Brooks Range and the arctic tundra of the coastal plain, the Arctic Refuge contains a variety of landscapes that have sustained Gwich’in Native communities for thousands of years. This sanctuary also is vital to polar bears, musk oxen, caribou, fish and migratory birds. It is the crown jewel of the National Refuge System.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is also an integral part of The Wilderness Society’s history, and we’re proud to still be fighting to protect the Arctic Refuge from those in the oil industry and Congress who would unleash drilling rigs on this pristine land.
Olaus Murie, who headed The Wilderness Society from 1945 to 1962, campaigned tirelessly for the establishment of the Arctic Refuge. His wife, Mardy Murie, was also active in The Wilderness Society and became lovingly known throughout America as the grandmother of the conservation movement.
Mardy often said that she saw Olaus cry only twice during their 39 years together, and one of those times was in 1960, when they got word that this special place would be protected (originally as the Arctic Wildlife Range). This was something that Olaus had dedicated his life to accomplishing. (You can read more about this success and other efforts to protect Alaska in The Quiet World by Douglas Brinkley.)
Together we can make history by taking a giant step toward permanent protection.
Feel free to customize the letter with your own message so that you can tell the agency what the Arctic Refuge means to you, and how important it is to save this special place for future generations.
Let’s help save the landscape where the Porcupine caribou herd inspired Mardy Murie to write:
“Here was the living, moving, warm-blooded life of the Arctic … with the wisdom of the ages, moving always, not depleting their food supply, needing all these valleys and mountains in which to live.”