15 November 2011 Voices are Loud and Clear on Protecting the Arctic Refuge Posted by: Caitlin Leutwiler | Leave a comment | Share: When the Obama administration asked the public what they thought about protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the response was loud and clear — over 860,000 comments came in asking the US Fish and Wildlife Service to recommend that Congress designate the refuge’s coastal plain a wilderness area, bringing us one step closer to keeping dangerous oil and gas drilling out of the area for good. Defenders joined groups today to hand-deliver the comments to the Department of the Interior, letting the administration know just how important it is to keep the refuge wild for future generations. We couldn’t have done it without you! Together with our partners at the Animal Rescue Site, Care2 and Change.org, Defenders supporters generated 315,000 of these actions. They may not know it, but the animals of the refuge are lucky to have you on their side. Over 860,000 comments came in asking the US Fish and Wildlife Service to recommend that Congress designate the refuge’s coastal plain a wilderness area, bringing us one step closer to keeping dangerous oil and gas drilling out of the area for good. Despite this overwhelming show of support, the Arctic refuge is far from safe. This Friday, two Congressional hearings will take place to discuss the future of drilling in the refuge. The first of the two will consider a bill by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) that would allow for oil and gas development on the refuge’s coastal plain, a 1.5 million-acre stretch on the refuge’s northern edge. Photo courtesy of USFWS Such a move would mean big trouble for the iconic wildlife who call the refuge’s coastal plain home. The most important onshore denning habitat for America’s vanishing polar bears, the coastal plain is also the calving ground of the Porcupine caribou herd on which the native Gwich’in people have depended for thousands of years. Industrial-scale oil and gas development would destroy the pristine nature of the Arctic refuge’s coastal plain forever. For the wildlife already impacted by the damaging effects of climate change, preventing these operations is critical. Learn more: Defenders is working to make sure the Obama administration’s long-term management plan keeps the refuge and its wildlife healthy and protected for years to come. Stay tuned for more as the fight to keep the refuge safe continues. Oil and gas development isn’t the only threat facing the animals of the Arctic refuge. Read Defenders’ report, Climate Change and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Which Species Are At Risk? and see which mammals in the refuge are the most vulnerable to climate change, and what we can do to protect them. Adopt a Polar Bear Your adoption will help us fight to save polar bears and the Arctic habitats they depend on. Save Something Wild! Visit our Wildlife Adoption Center to adopt a polar bear or one of our 26 other imperiled animals today! Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap- Up California wavering on protection for gray wolves under state law; Defenders of Wildlife featured on the HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell show tonight; A close up look at the science: wolf breeding pairs in Idaho; bad bills for Mexican gray wolves in Arizona. The Votes Are In… You voted, and we listened – now the winners of Defenders’ 2014 Photo Contest are here! See if your favorite won, and take a look at some of the amazing runner-ups. We’ve Got to Protect What’s Left of the Sagebrush Sea New research shows that after a fire, the Sagebrush Sea (home to the imperiled greater sage-grouse) could take up to 20 years to fully recover. With other factors already threatening so much of this habitat, what does that mean for the species that call it home?