10 reasons to protect Alaska's Teshekpuk Lake


Caribou from the Teshekpuk Caribou Herd move through some of their most important habitat on the northwestern shore of Teshekpuk Lake in Alaska’s Arctic.

Photo: Tim Woody

Home to 45,000 caribou and numerous types of birds that migrate here from five continents, Alaska’s Teshekpuk Lake is a stunning landscape.

Teshekpuk Lake has been designated by the Bureau of Land Management as one of four Special Areas in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which is also known as the Western Arctic Reserve.

My visit to Teshekpuk Lake was inspiring and reinforced to me how important it is that we continue our fight to protect the reserve’s Special Areas from oil and gas drilling. While we know that development will occur elsewhere in the reserve, some areas -- including Teshekpuk Lake -- are simply too special to drill.

Here are a few bits of information about Teshekpuk Lake that tell more:

10 reasons to protect Teshekpuk Lake

1. It is one of the most important wetlands complexes in the entire Arctic.

2. The Western Arctic reserves encompasses about 23 million acres.

3. The lake is 22 miles wide, and surrounded by wetlands and numerous smaller lakes.

4. Lands around the lake are the primary calving ground for the Teshekpuk Caribou Herd.

5. Caribou migrate through this area to reach the coast for relief from swarms of insects.

6. Waterfowl and shorebirds migrate here from five continents.

7. Because this region is free of development and its lakes allow them to avoid land-based predators, the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area is critical habitat for molting geese.

8. The cumulative effects of climate change and industrial development would have major consequences for Teshekpuk Lake wildlife.

9. This region was identified in 1977 as a Special Area within the Western Arctic Reserve.

10. The birds and caribou that depend on Teshekpuk Lake habitat area  crucial subsistence resource for Alaska Natives.

See also: 

Living among Arctic caribou at Alaska's Teshekpuk Lake

Touring Prudhoe Bay. the epicenter of Alaska's oil boom

7 ugly facts about Prudhoe Bay, Alaska