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Action Alert!


THE ALASKA COALITION


Mission: To preserve outstanding wildlife and wild public lands and waters in Alaska for future generations; to coordinate with organizations and businesses through national campaign strategies and grassroots education to assure lasting protection for Alaska’s national public lands and waters.  By speaking with a united voice, we demonstrate that Americans from all walks of life are dedicated to keeping Alaska wild.

What is the Alaska Coalition: The Alaska Coalition, a project of Alaska Wilderness League, is a partnership of nearly 1,000 groups from the conservation, sporting, labor, religious and business communities that has for more than 30 years worked together to safeguard Alaska’s public lands and waters - from the verdant tundra of the Arctic to the lush temperate rainforest of the Tongass National Forest.

In the spring of 2007, Alaska Wilderness League took on the responsibility of coordinating and facilitating the activities of the national Alaska Coalition.  This integration enhances the broader conservation community’s grassroots capacity to protect Alaska’s wild places.  The League and its staff now serve as the coordinators for the national Coalition as well as liaisons to state based coalitions.   

Our member organizations and businesses work together with our regional organizers to build support in Congress by urging their elected officials to pass wilderness legislation concerning Alaska.  Ultimately, we hope to add the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge to our nation’s wilderness preservation system, to conserve and restore key areas in the Tongass National Forest, to protect special places in the Western Arctic within the National Petroleum Reserve -Alaska, and to keep the sensitive waters of the Polar Bear Seas—the Beaufort and Chukchi—off the North Slope safe from oil and gas development.

ARCTIC OCEAN (Beaufort, Chukchi, Bering Seas)

 

The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, the Arctic waters north of Alaska, are sometimes known as America’s ‘Polar Bear Seas’ – and for good reason. One of the most unique marine ecosystems in the world, these waters are home to the entire population of U.S. polar bears and have consequently been designated critical habitat. Many of America’s most beloved sea animals thrive here, including the endangered bowhead whale, walrus, seals and countless birds. This marine wildlife, especially the bowhead whale, is vital to the survival of the subsistence culture of the Inupiat people of Alaska’s North Slope.

The offshore Arctic is suffering from the effects of climate change at unmatched rates. The polar bear’s Arctic sea ice habitat is melting rapidly and experts believe the polar bear may be extinct by 2050. Any new industrial development in these waters would only add to the effects of climate change already causing stress on Arctic wildlife.

Little is known about the effects of risky, aggressive drilling proposed by the oil industry in these abundant, pristine waters. Currently, there is no proven way to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic’s extreme, icy conditions. We must not move forward with the existing drilling proposals in the Arctic Ocean because there is currently too little sound scientific information about this unique marine ecosystem and a catastrophic oil spill is too great a risk. We should be working to gather the information necessary to determine if, when, where, and how any potential development might take place in the Arctic Ocean.

 

ARCTIC REFUGE

 

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is our nation’s greatest wilderness icon and must be protected for future generations. Drilling in the Arctic Refuge will do nothing to lower today’s gas prices and will not address our nation’s long-term energy needs. Instead, drilling will destroy America’s proud wilderness legacy while boosting Big Oil’s billions of dollars in profits – which, according to the latest quarterly reports have already increased by more than 50 percent over last year.

The Arctic Refuge provides crucial habitat for some of our most beloved species of wildlife – including caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, musk oxen, Dall sheep, wolves, wolverines and much more. Each year, the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain’s vast expanse of lush tundra acts as the birthing grounds for much of this wildlife.

Birds we see in our own backyards, in all 50 states and across six continents, begin their lives in the Arctic Refuge before migrating to visit us and then returning there to start the cycle of life anew. The Arctic Refuge’s Coastal Plain also is the most important land habitat for mother polar bears, who build dens there each year to give birth to their cubs. In addition, the Porcupine Caribou Herd – which for thousands of years has been the foundation for the livelihood and culture of the Gwich’in people – return each year to the Arctic Refuge’s Coastal Plain to give birth to their calves.

The history of the Arctic Refuge is about its unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values, not its development potential. The American public has made it clear that we are looking for real solutions to high gas prices, yet leadership in Congress keeps focusing on the same failed solutions – such as giving Big Oil another $50 billion in taxpayer subsidies over the next decade. It’s time for our elected officials to stand up for real Americans and protect places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge while moving our nation toward a sustainable energy future.

 

TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST
On our continent’s shimmering western edge, lies a mist-shrouded place of emerald islands with towering ancient spruce, rugged mountains, abundant wildlife, and fast-running rivers bursting with fish. It is our Tongass National Forest – America’s rainforest in southeast Alaska. It is a place where we do not have to talk about how things used to be, but can appreciate what we have today.

At 17 million acres, the Tongass is America’s largest national forest. It still brims with the incredible bounty it has harbored for thousands of years. Rising majestically from the deep, clear waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage, this is a land of huge bears grown fat on salmon, eagles soaring the endless skies, and 500-year-old trees standing silent sentry over a rich and verdant world. It is a rare place where southeast Alaskans live off the lands and waters and where visitors and locals alike can still travel over timeless glaciers, fish in pristine streams, or find solace at a remote cabin, immersed in the breath-taking beauty of wild Alaska.
 
Despite being impacted in the past by unsustainable old-growth logging practices within sensitive and essential salmon and wildlife habitat, the Tongass continues to contain extraordinary values found few places else on earth. It is one of the earth’s last places where the delicate balance between land, water, wildlife, and human is sound.
We can make decisions about America’s rainforest that we can be proud of—balanced decisions which allow us to continue to experience and use the rainforest and its resources, without losing them.

NATIONAL PETROLEUM RESERVE-ALASKA

The lands and waters of the unfortunately named National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska are not a playground for Big Oil. In fact, the area includes some of our nation’s most vital natural resources – millions of acres of wilderness-quality lands with critical habitat for millions of migratory birds, as well as grizzly bears, caribou, threatened polar bears, walrus, endangered beluga whales and more.
 
Teshekpuk Lake, situated in the northern section of the Reserve, is the most significant goose molting area in the Arctic and is home to the 45,000-animal Teshekpuk Lake Caribou Herd. The Colville River, Utukok River Uplands, and Kasegaluk Lagoon areas are important habitats for the highest density of nesting birds of prey in the world, the nation’s largest caribou herd (the Western Arctic caribou herd has more than 400,000 animals), and beluga whales.
 
Spanning nearly 22 million acres across the western North Slope of Alaska, the Reserve is the largest single unit of public lands in the nation. The Alaska Native communities that live along the Reserve have maintained a subsistence lifestyle for thousands of years based on Reserve’s living resources. While oil and gas activities have a place in the Reserve, the areas of highest conservation value must be kept off limits to development. Currently, there is no real lasting protection for these lands and waters.