However, BHA urges the administration to take additional action to protect critical wildlife habitat, including some of the most important waterfowl nesting areas in the world
MISSOULA, Mont. – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers today commended a move by the Biden administration to prohibit oil and gas development on critical public lands and waters in Alaska’s Arctic, while also urging the administration to coordinate with Congress to permanently conserve special areas of fish and wildlife habitat.
The Bureau of Land Management-promulgated action would reverse a 2019 effort by the Trump administration to remove protections from millions of acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska including the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area and other previously protected lands, and instead return to the previous management plan that still permits drilling in more than half of the reserve’s 23 million acres.
The single-largest tract of public land in the nation, the Arctic reserve lies on Alaska’s North Slope, bordering the Chukchi Sea to the west and the Beaufort Sea to the north. It is home to a wide diversity of wildlife, including the Western Arctic and Teshekpuk Lake caribou herds, grizzly bears and wolves, as well as fish ranging from Dolly Varden and arctic char to lake trout and northern pike.
The region also provides summer nesting habitat relied upon by waterfowl all over the world. The reserve’s Teshekpuk Lake Special Area plays a critical role for tens of thousands of greater white-fronted geese, Pacific black brant, cackling geese and snow geese. Additional species of waterfowl that nest in the region and migrate to North America’s flyways include all four species of eiders, tundra swans, wigeon, pintail, longtail duck, canvasback, teal and merganser.
The Alaska chapter of BHA voiced support for the BLM decision while reiterating that additional action to conserve the region is overdue.
“Alaska BHA is pleased to see important protections in this area of the Arctic restored,” said Jacob Mannix, Alaska chapter coordinator. “We’re Alaskans; we live here. We understand the importance of some level of responsible development, but we also greatly value our wildlife and will continue to advocate for protections for critically important areas like Teshekpuk Lake.”
“No matter where you call home in North America, if you hunt waterfowl, you could be decoying birds that spent their summer nesting and raising their young on wetlands in Alaska’s Arctic,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney.
“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers believes that these remote reaches of northern Alaska must be conserved for the sake of innumerable species of game and non-game mammals, birds and fish,” Tawney stated. “We urge our decision-makers to heed the best scientific evidence available and to err on the side of caution when it comes to proposed development in Alaska’s Arctic regions. While the administration deserves our thanks for its foresighted action, much more work remains to be done to secure the long-term future of these irreplaceable lands and waters – and to sustain the once-in-a-lifetime hunting and fishing adventures they represent.”
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