Another Arctic land grab of protected areas in the NPRA, Alaska
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Caribou by water in the Western Arctic.

Another Arctic land grab

The Trump administration continues to put industry interests ahead of public health and the protection of land, water, wildlife, and people in what looks to be another Arctic land grab in Alaska.

Special areas like Teshekpuk Lake are essential to the health of Arctic people and wildlife. Photo by Tyler Lewis, USGS

The Bureau of Land Management revealed a revision of a plan that could gut protections for designated Special Areas within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, or Western Arctic. The current plan protects much of these areas from exploitation because of their importance to the health of Arctic wildlife and people.  

The Trump Administration is moving forward with the revision of this plan with the express purpose of opening additional areas in the Western Arctic to oil and gas extraction. Groups concerned about the protection of the region sent out a press release in response to the BLM statement.

“The plan currently in place protects areas like Teshekpuk Lake because of their importance as wildlife habitat and for traditional cultural uses,” said Suzanne Bostrom, staff attorney with Trustees for Alaska. “The facts show that more industrialization will lead to serious and harmful health and climate impacts. We should be increasing protections – not sacrificing them for the sake of more oil and gas.”

Step up for the Arctic

Now’s the time to speak up for the Arctic. Sign up for news and updates about how to speak out at hearings and in comments, petitions, and other public actions to make sure Arctic lands, wildlife and people are protected.

Caribou by water in the Western Arctic.
People in the Arctic rely on caribou and other animals and living systems in the Western Arctic. Photo by Bob Childers.

Public hearings will take place in December and January. Locations include Anchorage, Fairbanks, Utqiagvik, Atqasuk, Nuiqsut, Anaktuvuk Pass, Wainwright and Point Lay . Go to the BLM planning website to learn more. The full list of hearing is at the bottom of this post.

The largest undisturbed public land

The NPRA, or Western Arctic, is the largest tract of undisturbed public land in the United States. Its official boundaries contain oil reserves, but the existence of oil and its name do not define its purpose. The area includes millions of acres of critical habitat for migratory birds, brown bears, caribou, threatened polar bears, walrus, endangered whales and more.

Current protections for the Teshekpuk Lake, Colville River, Utukok Uplands, Peard Bay, and Kasegaluk Lagoon Special Areas reflect an understanding that people, animals and plants depend on interconnected natural systems, not fragmented migratory routes and watersheds.

We must strengthen those protections, not pull them back. 

UPDATE: Hearing dates, times locations:

  • Point Lay: 6:30 to 9 pm Tuesday, December 10, at the community center. 
  •  Anchorage: 6 to 9 pm Wednesday, December 11, at the ZJ Loussac Library. 
  • Wainwright: 6:30 to 9 pm Thursday, December 12, at the community center.
  • Utqiagvik: 6:30 to 9 pm Monday, December 16, at the Inupiat Heritage Center. 
  • Atqasuk: 6:30 to 9 pm Tuesday, December 17, at the community center.
  • Fairbanks: 6 to 9 pm Wednesday, December 18, at the Morris Thompson Center. 
  • Nuiqsut: 6:30 to 10 pm Tuesday, January 7, at the Kisik Community Center.  
  • Anaktuvuk Pass: 6:30 to 9 pm Thursday, January 9, at the community center.