July 2nd, 2012 13:36 EST
WCS Responds to Alaska`s NPR-A, Recommends 'Alternative B'
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) delivered public comments to the Department of the Interior`s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on its Draft Integrated Activity Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for the National Petroleum Reserve "Alaska (NPR-A).
In the comments, WCS recommended `Alternative B`, which balances the need for responsible energy development with full protection of critical wildlife habitat in the NPR-A`s Special Areas.
The BLM solicited public comments in advance of a new assessment of the largely undeveloped NPR-A which is located in Western Arctic Alaska. The draft includes four alternatives for BLM`s future management of nearly 23-million-acres of public lands on Alaska`s North Slope.
Steve Zack, a WCS conservation scientist who has led studies of Arctic wildlife for the past decade, said, "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."
The Arctic wetlands surrounding Teshekpuk Lake, the Utukok River Uplands, Kasegaluk Lagoon and other areas are the largest in the world and are biologically important for massive numbers of migratory birds, caribou, and other Arctic species. WCS studies have shown that human activities associated with development, such as the oilfields in Prudhoe Bay, negatively affect populations of nesting birds by attracting predators such as foxes, ravens and gulls.
WCS has engaged BLM along every step of its assessment process. WCS commented on the development of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and held a Congressional briefing in the U.S. Capitol featuring WCS conservationists Steve Zack and Joe Liebezeit to educate Congress on the science of the NPR-A. WCS also engaged the public on this subject, spurring more than 36,000 people through an online alert to submit comments to BLM.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world`s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit www.wcs.org.