Target: Bureau of Land Management
Goal: Provide maximum protection for all areas of significant habitat value in new development plan for Alaska’s Western Arctic Reserve.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is working on a new management plan for Alaska’s Western Arctic Reserve in order to move forward with oil and gas development in the region. Many areas in the Reserve provide critical habitat to a great diversity of species, including polar bears, migrating birds, and the largest herd of caribou in the United States. We must urge the BLM to provide maximum protection for the precious wildlife that inhabit this area by recognizing all areas of ecological importance.
Alaska’s Western Arctic Reserve is the largest unit of undisturbed public land in the U.S. It was set aside in 1923 as a National Petroleum Reserve for oil and gas extraction. Much of the land remained undeveloped, however, and the BLM set aside the most ecologically sensitive areas to protect the many species of fish and wildlife that depend on the Reserve to survive. Unique areas inside the Reserve are vital to struggling polar bears, provide needed calving grounds for caribou, and are home to the largest concentration of brown bears in the Arctic. The Reserve also provides a safe place for thousands of beluga whales that feed and give birth off its shores, while millions of migrating birds find the shelter they need in its productive coastal wetlands.
Now, the Department of Interior and the BLM have released a draft of the Integrated Activity Plan that will introduce new management strategies for the Western Arctic Reserve. Of the drafts, Alternative B is the best choice for effectively protecting key habitat from oil and gas extraction. Under this draft plan, the BLM has recognized various “special areas” within the Reserve that are part of the area’s wetland ecosystem, including ponds, rivers, streams and lakes internationally recognized for their ecological importance. Yet there are many other rivers, bays and wetlands that have not received recognition and should also be designated as “special areas” in the new plan, as they provide vital nesting habitat for birds, calving habitat for caribou and feeding grounds for polar and brown bears.
Sign the petition below and urge the Bureau of Land Management to provide maximum protection for all the areas of exceptional ecological significance in Alaska’s Western Arctic Reserve.
Dear Bureau of Land Management Officials,
As someone who cares deeply about the wildlife and wild places in our country, I am writing to urge you to provide maximum protection for all areas of exceptional ecological significance as you develop the new Integrated Activity Plan for the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (Western Arctic Reserve).
As you are aware, there is a great abundance of diverse species that depend on the Reserve to survive. In the recently released draft plan, Alternative B is the choice which most reliably protects vital habitat for millions of animals, including migratory birds, Alaska’s largest caribou herd, brown bears, polar bears, beluga whales, spotted seals and many more.
I congratulate you for taking the first step to protect the Arctic’s wildlife through the designation of various “special areas” within the Reserve. Among these are part of the area’s wetland ecosystem, including ponds, rivers, streams and lakes internationally recognized for their ecological importance. Yet there are many other ecologically important rivers, bays and wetlands, including the Dease Inlet-Meade River and the Ikpikpuk River, that have not received recognition. These valuable habitats also deserve strong protections through expanded or new “special area” designations under the new plan, as they provide unique nesting habitat, calving habitat and feeding grounds.
Please do all you can to ensure maximum protection for all areas of exceptional ecological significance by making these areas off limits to oil and gas leasing. The BLM must show it knows how to manage oil and gas development without sacrificing conservation of wildlife and preservation of wilderness.
[Your Name Here]