The following statement from William H. Meadows is in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announcement that the agency will conduct a wilderness review for the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and it needs to be kept safe from oil drills and pipelines. For 50 years, the area where the Refuge is has been recognized as a haven for polar bears, musk oxen, and for the thousands of caribou in the Porcupine herd that migrate there every year to give birth to the next generation. The Gwich’in people have called the area home for millennia, long before the oil companies set their sights on it.
“The Wilderness Society has been committed to protecting this area for decades, from the time that Olaus Murie and his wife Mardy explored the area in 1956, before coming to Washington to encourage President Eisenhower to set it aside. More than 50,000 people commented to the Fish and Wildlife Service supporting a wilderness review, and after the review the agency, the Department of Interior, and the President should recommend full protection and inclusion into the National Wilderness Preservation System.
“Now it is even more important than ever to establish permanent protections for the Coastal Plain of the Refuge, the heart of the refuge that continues to be threatened by oil and gas development interests. The gift of protection forever for this unique and special place is a very fitting 50th anniversary present.”