Good news for caribou: Special habitat in the Western Arctic Reserve protected at last!

Special caribou habitat in the western Arctic will be protected under the new BLM management plan. 


After years of fighting to protect Alaska’s western Arctic from unrestricted oil drilling, our campaign to protect America’s largest tract of public land has paid off.

The Bureau of Land Management has announced it will protect special wildlife habitat for caribou, migratory birds, grizzly bears, wolves and polar bears in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which is also known as the Western Arctic Reserve.

The BLM’s decision is what we’ve been working for. It will help protect animals in this land teeming with Arctic wildlife.

It also protects Alaska Native communities who depend on western Arctic land to feed their families and preserve their culture.

A fair balance that protects wildlife

The oil industry’s allies have long argued that the the Western Arctic Reserve is nothing more than a big sponge full of oil waiting to be drilled.

The truth is that the reserve is believed to hold only 10 percent as much oil as the U.S. Geological Survey once thought.

The new BLM management decision will protect wildlife while still allowing the oil industry access to 72 percent of the economically recoverable oil in the reserve. It allows the option of a pipeline across the reserve to transport oil from the Chukchi Sea to the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

So the reserve will help meet America’s demand for energy, and irreplaceable habitat will be set aside to ensure its protection for future generations

That’s fair. That’s balanced. And that’s something to celebrate.

Our part to protect the western Arctic

The Wilderness Society has worked with the BLM, the state of Alaska, ConocoPhillips, the North Slope Borough and Audubon Alaska to collect and analyze scientific data that helped decision makers understand how caribou use some of the reserve’s most important habitat.

This work helped decision makers understand the potential impacts of oil drilling in the nearly 23-million-acre reserve.

Our WildAlert members also helped win this struggle. Their comments to decision makers helped the Obama administration towards this decision. Thank you to everyone who helped!

See also:

Western Arctic protections worth celebrating

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Reference the map below to locate the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska:

View National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska in a larger map