Protect our largest public land: the Western Arctic
Action needed by 1, 2013
It's a mouthful but the BLM just released a new draft for the Western Arctic: National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) Integrated Activity Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (IAP/EIS).
This is the first time the BLM is making a comprehensive plan to manage the 23 million acres of the Reserve. We need to make sure we make sound desicions in the Reserve to protect some unparalleled national treasures, like these:
• Colville River: Flowing through the Brooks Range, the river is a major nesting site for birds of prey, like the peregrine falcon, gyrfalcon, and golden eagle, as well as home for over 20 fish species, 70 bird species, and even spotted seals at the river delta.
• Kasegaluk Lagoon: Spanning 125 miles on the Chukchi Sea, the lagoon is critical for calving and molting beluga whales and home to walrus, seals, polar bears, and many bird species.
• Utukok Uplands: Extremely important for subsistence users, the Uplands are the main calving grounds for the Western Arctic Caribou Herd—Alaska’s largest herd with 400,000 animals. The Uplands are also home to grizzly bears, wolverines, moose, wolves, and raptors.
• Teshekpuk Lake: Known as a Bird Area of Global Significance, the lake is home to large numbers of shore and water birds, including the Pacific black brant and greater white-fronted goose. This is the largest geese molting area in the Arctic, and is also home to caribou, grizzly and polar bears, wolves, and more.
• Dease Inlet-Meade River: This area includes thousands of small lakes important to waterfowl, shorebirds—yellow-billed and red-throated loons, brant, king eider—sea ducks, spotted seals, polar bears and caribou.
• Southern Ikpikpuk River: This tributary hosts high concentrations of raptors like nesting peregrine falcons and rough-legged hawks, as well as shorebirds like Arctic tern, long-tailed duck, and bar-tailed godwit.
• Peard Bay: This special place provides haul-out areas for ringed and bearded seals—polar bears’ favorite food. It is a Continentally-Significant Important Bird Area with habitat for nesting loons, waterfowl and shorebirds, including the highest density of nesting spectacled eiders in Alaska.
• DeLong Mountains and Arctic Foothills: At the crest of the Brooks Range, this area is essential for migrating caribou, is home to grizzly bears, wolves, wolverines, and is an important corridor across the Arctic.
The Draft plan is out and comments were due in Spring 2012. But the BLM just announced a great preferred alternative B-2! Over the last year, more than 70,000 of you have urged the Obama administration to protect the special places of the National Petroleum Reserve in Western Alaska (the largest undisturbed area of wild lands in the United States) from Big Oil.
The Obama administration heard you. They just announced that they will pursue a plan that will shield 11 million acres of Western Alaska's most fragile and important wild places from oil and gas drilling.
Thank the Obama administration for protecting this wild Arctic landscape -- and urge them to keep up the good work!
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