Thursday, May 31, 2012

Help protect Alaska’s Western Arctic Reserve

Even in urban areas, a glimpse of wildlife enriches our oftentimes over-scheduled lives. While doing errands several days ago, I caught sight of a full-grown male mallard strolling around in a busy shopping center. I paused to marvel at his unexpected appearance and took a few pictures of him before he wisely flapped his wings and soared aloft.

That mallard reminded me of the importance of protecting wildlife wherever we can in our shrinking world. Alaska’s Western Arctic Reserve needs all the help we can muster, so please read and heed the message below:

Dear Virginia,

Alaska's Western Arctic Reserve is home to the nation's largest caribou herd, millions of migratory birds and America's remaining polar bears.

It's an amazing place with vast complexes of lakes, rivers and streams that empty into the Arctic Ocean -- and we need your help to protect the magnificent wildlife found there.

Take action now. Urge the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to provide maximum protection for the homes of polar bears, migratory birds and other wildlife living in the Western Arctic Reserve.

In 1923, the Western Arctic Reserve was set aside as an oil and gas reserve. Since that time, however, no oil development has occurred in the reserve and only sporadic exploration activity has affected the region.

Since the 1970s, the reserve -- the largest single unit of public lands in the U.S. -- has also been managed to protect the exceptional wildlife and habitat it contains.

The special areas within the reserve are key habitat for our struggling polar bears, important calving grounds for Alaska's largest herd of caribou and home to the largest concentration of brown bears in the Arctic.

Thousands of beluga whales feed and give birth off the shores of the Western Arctic Reserve. And its productive coastal wetlands provide millions of migrating birds with the habitat they need to survive.

The BLM is working on a new management plan for the entire reserve -- and we can help ensure that these amazing places are protected.

Urge federal officials to safeguard Alaska’s Western Arctic Reserve’s special places from harmful oil and gas exploration.

Unique areas like the fragile Teshekpuk Lake, the Utukok River Uplands and the Coleville River -- and the diverse wildlife that depends on them -- are especially sensitive to harmful development and cannot be replaced.

Please take action today -- the deadline for comments is Friday, June 15th.

Together, we can ensure a lasting future for our wildlife and our most special wild places.

Theresa Fiorino
Alaska Representative
Defenders of Wildlife


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