Plan to Protect Alaska Reserve Proves Conservation and Energy Policy Can Be Balanced for Benefit for All

"Plan recognizes the critical role of special places in the Reserve for unique subsistence, recreational, scenic and wildlife values"

02-21-2013 // Aislinn Maestas
Flock of Snow Geese

The U.S. Department of the Interior today issued a Record of Decision that formally adopts a new Integrated Activity Plan that protects wildlife habitat within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, also known as the Western Arctic Reserve. The final plan provides a balanced approach that preserves five unique Special Areas, including Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Uplands, Kasegaluk Lagoon, Peard Bay and Colville River, which are critical to fish, wildlife, recreation and Alaska Native subsistence.

Adam Kolton, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s National Advocacy Center, said today:

“We commend the Department of the Interior for adopting a balanced plan within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. This plan recognizes the critical role of special places in the Reserve for unique subsistence, recreational, scenic and wildlife values. It is the first ever comprehensive plan that has been completed for the entire Reserve, and it shows that, where appropriate, oil and gas development can move forward while taking into account the needs of wildlife and the surrounding communities.

 “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. This victory should be celebrated by all Americans, including those who value the Common Ravens in their backyards, the sandpipers on the water, and the Northern Pintails seen from their duck blinds. Protecting America’s ‘bird factory’ in Teshekpuk Lake is a landmark win for wildlife.

“Sportsmen and other conservationists helped bring about today’s success by generating more than 400,000 comments calling for protection of wildlife and special places within the Reserve. The Bureau of Land Management responded with a plan that carefully balances oil and gas leasing with wildlife conservation.

 “More protections for the Western Arctic and the Arctic in general need to be made, especially in light of the devastating impacts of climate change to this sensitive, dynamic and unique environment.”

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