Arctic Sun. By Cassidy Brush
Congress is considering a wilderness bill for the 1.5 million acre coastal plain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Last week, two Summit County residents and Sierra Club members traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers about the wilderness bill. They described the trip in their own words for Summit Voice.
SUMMIT COUNTY — The 19-million Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may be tucked away in a remote corner of Alaska, but it’s close to the heart for millions of Americans who cherish wilderness and find inspiration in knowing it exists — even if they never visit it.
And it’s even more important for the indigenous Gwich’in and Inupiaq people of the region. The Gwich’in are believed to have lived in the area and subsisted from the Porcupine caribou herd for 20,000 years, long before political maps divided Alaska and Canada.
The Inupiaq people, or “real people” of Alaska’s Arctic coasts, rely on subsistence hunting of moose, caribou, whales, walrus, seals, and ducks, as well as salmon and berries, for their food. Their traditional whaling practice dates back thousands of years and forms the center of their diet and culture.
For decades, a political and social battle has been raging over the area, specifically over oil extraction in a 1.5 million acre piece of the refuge deemed critical for the caribou herd. Wildlife biologists studying the area have documented that existing activities already have disturbed the migration patterns and habits of the caribou herds. additional impacts could radically disrupt the indigenous way of life.
Read more after the break … (more…)
Filed under: energy, Environment, public lands | Tagged: ANWR, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, conservation, energy, Environment, Gwich'in, Inupiaq, oil drilling, Sierra Club, Summit County News | 1 Comment »