Wasteland or wilderness - time to decide
Wendy Malick for The Wilderness Society
It’s approximately the same size as the state of Indiana. Polar bears patrol vast unspoiled stretches of coast. Millions of birds nest along its pristine lakes and wetlands. Hawks and eagles raise chicks in towering cliffs. Two of Alaska’s largest caribou herds rear their young in the lush marshes, tundra and grasslands.
It’s the Western Arctic Reserve, or the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and its future is at stake. The Obama Administration will decide this year on a plan to protect key portions of the Reserve.
Alaska Reserve’s Uncertain Future
The Western Arctic Reserve is the single largest parcel of publicly owned wilderness in America - and it has been targeted by petroleum interests for exploitation.
A debate is unfolding in Washington about the reserve’s future. Supporters of oil and gas development are intent on opening this ecological wonder to oil exploration and industrial development.
Oil and gas development causes massive disruption and poses enormous dangers to wild lands like those in the reserve. Roads, pipelines, and drilling installations would be built. Air and water pollution are inevitable. And there would be spills. On average, there are more than 400 spills of oil and other toxic materials in northern Alaska every single year.
We Can Protect It
The Wilderness Society is at work both in Alaska and in Washington to protect this natural treasure. Our team in Alaska works with field scientists and native communities to build support for protection. In Washington, we are working to counteract the relentless pressure from oil and gas lobbyists on Capitol Hill.
Private interests spend tens of millions of dollars on expensive lobbyists and campaign contributions. We don’t have high-priced lobbyists, but we do have you.
If the reserve becomes an industrial wasteland, we will have lost one of the most precious remaining wild places on Earth. It may be that you will never visit the Arctic, but don’t you prefer to live in a world in which such wonders still exist?
Thank you so much for your interest and support.
Wendie Malick, for the Wilderness Society