The oil and gas industry hopes to gain access to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as the crown jewel of America's wildlife refuge system, supports more varieties of plant and animal life than any other protected area in the Arctic Circle. Made up of 19.3 million acres (approximately the size of South Carolina) and six different ecozones, the refuge is home to bears, wolves, caribou, musk oxen and other important species.
Polar bear and her cubs. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, flickr
No roads exist within or lead into the wildlife refuge. Undisturbed by human trails, roads or settlements, the refuge's Sheenjek River headwaters are the most remote geographic location in the U.S.
If you're interested in visiting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, we suggest using a reputable guide service. While migratory birds may venture in and out of the refuge with ease, most human visitors need to charter a small plane to gain access to the site. Seasoned professionals can get you in and out of remote areas safely and efficiently, and will spare you a lot of homework and logistical arrangements!
Flying into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Lincoln Else
Too Wild to Drill
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most pristine places on Earth, and The Wilderness Society has fought for years to protect this special place from oil development, especially the Arctic coastal plain that is the biological heart of the refuge. For the past two decades, the oil industry has mounted lobbying campaigns to gain access to refuge's wild coast.
Currently, the 113th Congress is considering three bills to open the coastal plain to oil drilling. Alaska’s governor, Sean Parnell, has also offered up to $50 million to send seismic testing equipment into the Arctic Refuge, potentially disturbing polar bears and cubs in their winter dens.
Only a federal wilderness designation will protect the Refuge from relentless calls to drill. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should finalize its plan for managing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and recommend that the coastal plain be designated as protected wilderness. Congress should also act, and pass legislation to add the coastal plain to the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge aerial shot. Photo: Lincoln Else