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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Signs Record of Decision for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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Today, President Obama and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made history. Geoffrey Haskett, Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska, signed the Record of Decision for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s new Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) which allows the Service to begin implementation. Following this signing, President Obama sent a formal transmittal to Congress recommending that they pass a wilderness bill designating 12.28 million acres of the Arctic Refuge and its biologically sensitive coastal plain as wilderness. This marks the first time since 1974 that a President has sent a refuge wilderness recommendation to Congress.

This formal transmittal from the President of the United States is a critical step toward a future Congressional wilderness designation and establishes the Obama Administration’s support for wilderness protection for the refuge.  It further reverses the former executive branch position dating from the Reagan Administration position that had supported oil and gas development in the refuge. The next step is for Congress to pass wilderness legislation.

The Arctic Refuge was established by President Eisenhower in 1960, expanded by Congress and President Carter in 1980 and now President Obama has recommended it be preserved for future generations as wilderness – the highest level of protection for public lands in the world.

The coastal plain is the biological heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and one of the last places on earth that has been undisturbed by humans. There simply is no place left on the planet where enormous herds of arctic caribou roam free, or where musk oxen, polar bears, wolves and grizzly bears can still thrive.

Geoff Haskett, Regional Director
Geoffrey Haskett, Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service , Alaska | USFWS

We owe it to our children and their children to permanently protect this invaluable resource.

Top Reasons Why Wilderness Designation Is the Right Thing to Do

  • With its unique wildlife, unspoiled wilderness where natural processes reign, cultural heritage that bespeaks its importance to Alaska Natives, and important habitat for hundreds of arctic wildlife species, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System and one of the most important protected areas on planet Earth.
  • The 19.8 million acres that comprise the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are home to Alaska Natives, including the Inupiat and Gwich’in, and the resources of the refuge sustain these populations and protect their indigenous traditions and way of life.
  • The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contains 26 polar bear dens, which is 50-percent of all U.S. polar bear dens, and a porcupine caribou herd of 160,000.
  • For more than 30 years, the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain has been at the center of an ongoing debate over oil and natural gas drilling. Designating the coastal plain and other areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness will end that debate and permanently ban oil and gas drilling, and other development in those areas.

The Comprehensive Conservation Plan recommends wilderness designation of three Wilderness Study Areas: the coastal plain along the Beaufort Sea, the Western Brooks Range and the Porcupine Plateau, encompassing nearly all non-wilderness lands inside the refuge. Although only Congress can designate wilderness, a presidential wilderness recommendation means the areas will be managed as wilderness until formal congressional designation.

Learn more about efforts to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge here.

Click here to read a letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate on proposed Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers designations for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2015/04/u-s-fish-and-wildlife-service-sign-record-of-decision-for-the-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge/

5 comments

  1. Kat Ranalli says:

    Please stand behind our President and pass the wilderness bill designating 12.28 million acres of the Arctic Refuge and its biologically sensitive coastal plain as wilderness. My granddaughter thanks you, as will her children, and theirs. Thank you.

  2. Julie Turner says:

    Ditto to what Kat Ranalli said: PLEASE SUPPORT OUR PRESIDENT!

  3. Tony Palmer says:

    Great. Now if you Americans can stop killing Wolves and Coyote for fun, stop trapping trapping your wildlife with horrific traps. Stop people from killing lions and other big game for trophies, then I will believe you are caring people, not gun crazy idiots who care nothing for your beautiful wildlife. Many thanks.

  4. Elizabeth kennedy says:

    This is for all people in the world not just for America .I have never seen a place like this in person but I would like my children to have the opportunity in their lifetime.

  5. RCS Optics says:

    We owe it to our children’s children to take action and send an old fashioned letter to our legislators insuring that they know how we feel about this important topic. IF we don’t then special interests may win the day. We encourage you to contact your congressmen and women now.

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