From Backcountry Hunters & Anglers:
MISSOULA, Mont. – As a controversial plan to open sensitive fish and wildlife habitat within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge advances, a cadre of outdoor-focused businesses and groups is uniting in support of the responsible management of Alaska’s Far North, including the Arctic Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
The 20 businesses and organizations sent a letter to congressional and administrative leaders today emphasizing the importance of Alaska’s Arctic North to fish and wildlife as well as hunters and anglers.
“While there are incredible lands and waters across the entire U.S., Alaska has a special hold on the hearts and minds of hunters and anglers,” the letter reads. “The Great Land occupies a space of wonder, timelessness, solitude, and enormity. In a state so rich and diverse, only one region can qualify as the last frontier of The Last Frontier – the Arctic North.”
Alaska’s Arctic is a diverse region of landscapes that ranges northward to the coast of the Arctic Ocean. Within that region, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 19.3 million acres, the largest in the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska covers roughly 23.6 million acres, making it the single largest undisturbed tract of public land in the United States.
“Alaska’s Far North holds some of the most essential fish and wildlife habitat on the globe, supporting robust populations of mammals, birds and fish that are pursued by hunters and anglers and relied upon by indigenous subsistence communities,” said John Gale, conservation director of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, which helped organize the letter and has been an outspoken proponent of the region’s conservation. “In particular, sportsmen and women, along with most Americans, agree that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and its wildlife-rich coastal plain should remain free of energy development.”
Despite widespread public opposition, the Trump administration is moving forward with plans to auction off drilling leases in the Arctic Refuge, scheduling a lease sale to take place in just under a month. Signatories of the sportsmen’s letter urged decision makers to heed current science and to exercise caution when considering development in the unique landscapes that comprise Alaska’s Arctic.
“Critically important areas such as Teshekpuk Lake and the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge must to be given the highest levels of protection for their value to fish and wildlife, both resident and migratory,” the business and groups stated. “Alaska’s Arctic represents an ideal in the hearts, minds and dreams of hunters and anglers, and we must work together to ensure we and future generations are able to experience and enjoy their majesty.”
In addition to BHA, signatories of the letter include the following: Argali, BaseMap Inc., Buck Knives, Crispi US, First Lite, Fishpond Inc., Flint Ridge Rifles, Heather’s Choice, Hunt To Eat, Huntinglife.com, Izaak Walton League of America, Mystery Ranch, Oregon Pack Works, Passalacqua Winery, Public Land Tees, Rep Your Water, Seek Outside, Sitka Gear and Victory Archery.
Seek Outside President Kevin Timm joined Gale yesterday, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to discuss the region’s importance and the critical need to ensure its long-term conservation.
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