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      REFUGE (ANWR)?


“There are few places on earth as wild and free as the Arctic Refuge. It is a symbol of our natural heritage, a remnant of frontier America that our first settlers once called wilderness. Little of that precious wilderness remains. …The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge stands alone as Americas last truly great wilderness…America’s only Arctic Refuge”

-- Jimmy Carter, President of the United States.

Alaska’s North Slope (Arctic Slope) is a region that extends from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Coast. It has grown into an industrial complex that produced approximately 14 billion barrels of crude oil, Oil exploration on this Arctic coastal plain is moving westward into the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, eastward to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and south towards the Brooks Range. The region has been impacted greatly by oil exploration and activities – both positively and negatively depending on an individual’s perspective. Benefits include lower unemployment and improved schools and hospitals. Oil exploration is also accompanied with environmental and social consequences to the flora and fauna as well as the people on the North Slope.

To the Arctic people who call this pristine wilderness their home, it is “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins”. Also known as “the American Serengeti”, massive herds of Porcupine caribou converge upon the coastal plain to calve each spring, more than 180 species of migratory birds journey from six continents and fifty states plus it is the preferred den area for polar bears in all of Alaska. Vast and remote the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with its 19.5 million-acre (the size of North Carolina) was established in 1960 as a promise to the American people to preserve “wildlife, wilderness and recreational values.”

As is the case with the entire circumpolar Arctic, this region is showing signs of a climate change taking place.

  • The McCall Glacier is measured to have lost more than thirty feet of in depth in the last forty years.
  • Moving at a pace not seen in 8000 years the dwarf willow is on a northward march.
  • A large number of native Alaskan communities are to be re-located due to rising sea levels and melting permafrost.