The nearly 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska supports a stunning diversity and abundance of wildlife. Right now, the U.S. Department of the Interior is writing its first-ever, comprehensive plan for the entire Reserve, providing the opportunity to protect the most important places for wildlife.
Teshekpuk Lake, on the coastal plain of the Reserve, is part of the largest wetlands area in the entire Arctic. These wetlands provide vital habitat for millions of migratory birds, including species such as the rare Yellow-billed Loon and the threatened Spectacled Eider. Birds that breed, forage, molt, and stage in the Reserve each summer disperse from coast to coast throughout the U.S and to every continent, even Antarctica.
The Reserve is home to other wildlife as well. More than 400,000 caribou migrate to their calving grounds in the Reserve. Iconic marine mammals inhabit the coastline, including polar bear, walrus, beluga whale, and several species of ice-dependent seals.
Congress has long recognized that there are special areas in the Reserve that deserve protection from oil and gas development, but there are currently no permanent protections in place.
Ask Secretary Salazar to choose a final plan that provides balance by protecting Teshekpuk Lake and other key wildlife areas as oil and gas are developed in the Reserve. Click here to submit your comment.
In the draft plan, Alternative B stands apart as the clear choice for balanced management. It would effectively protect habitat vital to healthy wildlife populations in America's Arctic while also allowing for future oil and gas development. Alternative B would protect several ecologically important areas with exceptional wildlife:
- Teshekpuk Lake/Dease Inlet: Calving grounds for the Teshekpuk Lake caribou herd; globally-significant Important Bird Area with nesting habitat for countless shorebirds, waterfowl, and seabirds, including the rare Yellow-billed Loon and the threatened Spectacled Eider.
- Peard Bay and Surrounding Wetlands: Concentration area for three species of ice-dependent seals; designated critical "no disturbance" habitat for polar bear; important nesting and feeding habitat for various seaducks, including the threatened Spectacled Eider.
- Utukok River Uplands/DeLong Mountains: Calving grounds of the Western Arctic caribou herd (the largest in Alaska); vital habitat for grizzly bear, wolves, and wolverine; exceptional wilderness recreation opportunities in the mountains of the Brooks Range.
- Colville River: Extraordinary multi-species densities of cliff-nesting raptors including Peregrine Falcon, Rough-legged Hawk, and Gyrfalcon.
- Kasegaluk Lagoon: This unique coastal area and the surrounding wetlands are vital to several marine mammal species including polar bear, walrus, ice seals, and beluga whale. It is a globally-significant Important Bird Area for a diversity of nesting and foraging waterbirds.
Take Action now by clicking here and asking Secretary Salazar to choose Alternative B, plan that provides balance by protecting Teshekpuk Lake and other key wildlife areas as oil and gas are developed in the Reserve.
To learn more about the Western Arctic, visit the Audubon Alaska website here.