Working in Alaska

The National Wildlife Refuge Association continues to counter an assault on Alaska’s 16 national wildlife refuges by the state’s powerful congressional delegation, now empowered by the Trump administration to undo 40 years of protection afforded Alaska’s refuges by the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

Alaska’s delegation, including Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Representative Don Young, are aggressively trying to wrest authority for Alaska’s federal refuges away from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and transfer control to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.

Major threats include: 1) Opening the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas development, 2) Completing a land exchange to authorize a road through Izembek Refuge, 3) Replacing refuge regulations that protect wolves and bears with liberalized hunting regulations to increase moose and caribou, and, 4) Diverting hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands to private hands under guise of rewarding Alaska Native veterans.

Some of the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s measures to counter these threats include:

Arctic Refuge

  •   Joining the steering committee of a revitalized Arctic Refuge Defense Campaign with eleven other NGOs overseeing a Campaign Coordinator and a $2 million budget for targeted outreach, polling, paid media and Hill work.

  •   Receiving a grant from The Wilderness Society to organize refuge Friends organizations in key states and congressional districts to highlight the importance of the Arctic Refuge in 2019.  

  •  Coordinating to keep “Friends of Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges” in the forefront of advocacy as the only local conservation NGO comprised largely of Alaska residents.

  •  Urging Chairman Jared Huffman (D-CA) of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oceans and Wildlife and over 100 cosponsors to introduce H.R. 5911 the “Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act” to repeal that portion of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that opened the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Similar legislation is pending in the Senate.

  •  President Geoffrey Haskett and Vice President of Government Affairs Desiree Sorenson-Groves to present oral arguments in Washington, D.C. at a Public Hearing by BLM on the Arctic Refuge oil leasing program. Longer written comments will be submitted on the Draft EIS from refuge supporters nationwide before the comment period ends mid-March.

  •  Signing a letter by 100 professional wildlife scientists and managers opposing oil and gas development in Arctic Refuge.

Izembek Refuge

  •  Participating in the Izembek Coalition of NGOs coordinating on strategies and litigation to oppose the road through Izembek Refuge.

  •   Awaiting a U.S. District Court decision on a lawsuit by the Refuge Association et al challenging Trump Administration’s use of executive power to authorize a land exchange for a road through Izembek Refuge. Under litigation, no Izembek riders were attached to appropriations bills.

  •   Providing history, insights, articles, and contacts for reporter Jane Kay’s story “Trump’s Swap of Irreplaceable Wilderness Allows Millions of Dollars in Seafood Transport” in the Jan. 8 edition of Reveal–Journal of the Center for Investigative Journalism.

  •   Supplying background information and sources for Dec. 3 New York Times article, “In the Blink of an Eye, Hunt for Oil Threatens Pristine Alaska” by Henry Fountain and Steve Eder.

Predator Control

  •  Providing written testimony opposing revision of Alaska’s Kenai Refuge regulations in favor of liberalized hunting regulations as predator control.

  •  Coordinating with other NGOs, notably Friends of Alaska’s Refuges, to provide written and oral testimony on Kenai’s revised regulations.

  •  Funding publication of research critical of Alaska’s predator control efforts by retired biologists from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game “Trends in Brown Bear Reduction Efforts in Alaska 1980-2018” in Ursus: Journal of the  International Association for Bear Research and Management

Public Lands Omnibus Bill (S. 47):

  •  Urging the U.S. House of Representatives to remove a provision attached to popular reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund that could transfer hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands within Alaska’s refuges to Vietnam-era Alaska Native veterans.

The National Wildlife Refuge Association is working every day to stop the assault on Alaska’s refuges.  Please consider helping us to protect these wild places.