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Published:April 2nd, 2012 11:27 EST
WCSReleases Responds to the Bureau of Land Management`s Draft Plan for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

WCSReleases Responds to the Bureau of Land Management`s Draft Plan for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

By SOP newswire

The Wildlife Conservation Society has issued a statement in response to the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management`s draft Integrated Activity Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (IAP/EIS) for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). The draft includes four alternatives for the Bureau of Land Management`s future management of nearly 23-million-acres of public lands on Alaska`s North Slope.


The following was released today Dr. Steve Zack, conservation scientist, for the WCS North America Program:


WCS is very encouraged to see in the planning process for western Arctic Alaska an alternative that will mean significant wildlife conservation through protection of key areas. The Bureau of Land Management`s plan for the largest public landscape in the United States, the National-Petroleum Reserve " Alaska, includes four alternatives, one of which is Alternative B. Alternative B sets aside from development the most important part of the world`s largest Arctic wetland, located around Teshekpuk Lake, and provides protection of the large landscapes across which hundreds of thousands of caribou migrate, including the Utukok Uplands region. We strongly feel that Alternative B, which categorizes areas critical for wildlife as unavailable for oil and gas leasing, balances energy development and wildlife protection in a landscape rich in both resources.


We have worked in Arctic Alaska for more than a decade trying to understand where the key wildlife regions are and the effects of existing development on nearby wildlife. In this time, we have come to appreciate how western Arctic Alaska, encompassed by the NPR-A, has an immense wetland that attracts waterfowl, shorebirds, and other birds in the millions to raise their young in the short summer months. These birds come from all over our planet, from every continent and from every ocean. Likewise, immense herds of caribou move from the mountains to the coastal plain and the wetlands to raise their young and to seek refuge from biting insects. This wildlife spectacle is of international importance, and worthy of protection amid the forces of change from development and the warming climate.  Protection of the Teshekpuk region, the Utukok Uplands, Kasegaluk Lagoon and other key areas is essential for preserving these species in this special place.


"We know from our studies in the Prudhoe Bay oilfields that human activities and associated structures and garbage attract fox, ravens, and gulls, which in turn are predators on the eggs and young of nesting birds. By protecting large areas in the NPR-A with Alternative B, we see the great potential to keep the highest densities of nesting birds from increased threat of nest predation. Further, this will enable the region to remain an area where birds can successfully produce young and maintain a stable population. Keeping populations of wildlife healthy is important to native hunters, to hunters of waterfowl in the lower 48 States, and to those who appreciate wildlife worldwide as `their` birds become `our` birds in the short nesting season of the Arctic.


"We look forward to close examination of the BLM planning process and support Alternative B that will have the strongest and most positive effect on Arctic wildlife now and into the future. We will continue to work hard to reveal the wonders of this spectacular landscape in Western Arctic Alaska that few Americans are aware of, yet a place that has one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world."