Happy New Year: Victory Announcement

Alaska Wilderness League & Audubon Alaska

National Petroleum Reserve: 11 Million Acres Protected

Photo: Dave Shreffler

On December 19, the Interior Department released its final management plan for the 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. This first-ever plan for the reserve will guide management of the area, including energy development and conservation. The final plan calls for protection of key habitat and recreation areas within the reserve totaling a staggering 11 million acres. Two Conservation Alliance grantees, Alaska Wilderness League and Audubon Alaska, played a key role in securing this success.

"By protecting 11 million acres of Arctic wetlands and wildlife nurseries, this plan proves that sound energy policy and conservation can go hand in hand. And not only that, they must," said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. 

Downeast Lakes Land Trust

West Grand Lake Forest: 21,870 Acres Protected  

Photo: Mark Berry

On December 18, the Downeast Lakes Land Trust and the State of Maine announced the purchase of a conservation easement on the 21,870-acres West Grand Lake Forest. The property wraps around the village of Grand Lake Stream, and is adjacent to other conservation lands, including the land trust's 33,708-acre Farm Cove Community Forest. These lands are in a broader landscape of nearly 1.4 million contiguous acres of public and private conservation lands extending across the border into New Brunswick, Canada. The West Grand Lake Forest conservation easement includes 17 miles of shoreline on three different lakes. This easement purchase extends the option agreement between the land trust and Lyme Timber Company through 2015, providing the time needed to raise the additional funds required to purchase the property outright.   

Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition

Sacred Headwaters: 1 Million Acres Protected     

 Photo: Brian Huntington 

The British Columbia government announced on December 18 that Shell Oil will withdraw its plans to develop coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters in northwest BC. The government also announced that it will not issue oil and gas leases in the area in the future. This decision protects one million acres of wild lands that are the source of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine Rivers, three of BC's most productive salmon streams. 

"Eight years ago, northern BC communities joined together to say 'no' to coalbed methane and 'yes' to wild salmon," said Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition executive director Shannon McPhail. "Today is an incredible day for residents of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine watersheds." SWCC worked closely with the region's Tahltan First Nation to demonstrate strong support for protecting the area.