B is for Birds: Help Protect Special Areas of the Western Arctic
The National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska (Reserve) encompasses an immense and spectacular Arctic ecosystem on Alaska's North Slope – just west of the more well-known Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Reserve provides critical habitat for many species of fish and wildlife: caribou, grizzly bear, polar bear, wolves, wolverine, Arctic fox, walrus, ice seals—and millions of migratory birds that nest and rear their young there each summer.
Earlier this spring, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) developed a Draft Integrated Activity Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (IAP/EIS) to determine the appropriate management of BLM-managed lands in the Reserve. The BLM consulted with tribes, the public, and cooperating agencies to develop a range of future management alternatives.
Alternative B stands apart as the clear choice for conserving birds and habitat. Alternative B would protect several ecologically important areas with exceptional wildlife: Teshekpuk Lake/Dease Inlet, Peard Bay, Utukok River Uplands/DeLong Mountains, Colville River, and Kasegaluk Lagoon.
The wetlands along the northern edge of the Reserve teem with life during the summer. The biological epicenter of this activity is the wetland maze surrounding Teshekpuk Lake. This ecological hotspot provides essential habitat for the Teshekpuk Lake Caribou Herd and hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds. For tens of thousands of geese, Teshekpuk Lake provides a critical safe haven when they are flightless during molt. Bird species that breed here migrate to places across the nation from coast to coast and to six continents. Some of the birds you see in your backyard may have been fledged in the Reserve!
Most of the highest-value habitat areas in the Reserve remain largely undisturbed, though more than six million acres have been leased for oil and gas exploration. Right now, you have an unprecedented opportunity to help safeguard these extraordinary areas and ensure balanced management that will protect key areas while allowing for responsible future oil production.
Alternative B is for the birds! Please send your comments supporting Alternative B to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar before June 1.