The War on the Wild: Alaska at the Forefront

The administration’s war on the wild zeroes in on Alaska

There has been a steady drumbeat from the Trump administration and many like-minded members of Congress who are pushing to wring every last available resource out of America’s wildest frontier – Alaska.

This fervent pursuit of profits above all else on our public lands and waters has put our wildlife and wild places at greater risk than ever before. It is clear this administration has little regard for the health and future of wildlife and our natural heritage, and Alaska has become a favorite target in its war on the wild.

Selling Out Alaska

Just this past week, The Washington Post revealed that the Trump administration is secretly pushing oil and gas exploration in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—the crown jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The contentious battle to open the refuge to drilling has been raging for decades, but has gained renewed momentum from an administration eager to profit from every last drop of oil they can bleed from our public lands and waters. In this case, the Trump administration is even willing to illegally alter regulations that have prohibited oil and gas exploration in the refuge for more than 30 years.

The Coastal Plain is the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge, home to some of America’s most iconic and imperiled species, including polar bears, caribou, and hundreds of migratory bird species that migrate from all 50 states and six continents. Drilling could forever destroy this delicate ecosystem. While full-blown oil development on the Coastal Plain still requires an act of Congress, the Trump administration’s effort to allow harmful exploratory activities in this wildlife haven is the first step to drilling. And Congress could get in on the action: the House FY2018 budget resolution currently under consideration is an opportunity for the legislative branch to authorize oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

The Trump administration’s unprecedented move against the Arctic Refuge should come as no surprise given the president’s directives targeting Alaska last spring. Specifically, the “America First Offshore Energy Strategy” would rewrite the country’s five-year development plan that guides the lease sales for oil and gas development in federal waters offshore. The current plan excludes lease sales in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Trump’s executive order would put those “off-limits” areas back on the auction block.  In addition, it seeks to fast-track harmful seismic testing and roll back safeguards for marine wildlife like dolphins, porpoises, whales and other creatures who can suffer devastating impacts from seismic testing.

Rescinding the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule

Just months into the new administration, Congress and the president revoked the Obama-era Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule that prohibited extreme hunting practices on refuges in Alaska. The elimination of the regulation could allow the state of Alaska to pursue its unscientific predator control policy on these federal public lands that sanctions killing mother bears with cubs, killing wolves with pups during denning season, and baiting, snaring and scouting bears from the air for hunting.

Now Congress is taking aim at similar protections on National Park Service preserves in the state. The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, deceitfully dubbed the SHARE Act, is anything but generous to wildlife, as it threatens to allow the same objectionable practices on Alaska’s national preserves. Through the SHARE Act, the House is doubling down on this attack since, as part of the FY2018 Interior Appropriations bill, it passed a separate measure that does the same thing.

Clearcutting “America’s Rainforest”

Alaska is home to our nation’s largest national forest and the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world. The vast Tongass National Forest spans 17 million acres and contains the largest remnants of intact old-growth forest habitat in North America. Sadly, it is still logged on an industrial scale – in fact, it is the last forest in the country where old-growth clearcutting is allowed.

In 2016, the U.S. Forest Service made plans to transition away from this outdated practice, but the new administration is putting that progress in reverse.

Now the Forest Service, operating under the Trump administration, is proposing to log an estimated 200-million board feet of old-growth forest on the Tongass over the next decade, in what would be the largest sell-off of old-growth forest the U.S. has experienced in decades. This colossal forest liquidation would destroy thousands of acres of high-quality wildlife habitat, threaten the persistence of Alexander Archipelago wolves, Sitka black-tailed deer, and northern goshawks, and potentially spell disaster for countless other species dependent on these unique and irreplaceable old-growth forests.

Bulldozing Wilderness in Izembek

For years, there has been spurious debate over proposals to build a road through wilderness wetlands in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, bisecting the refuge and destroying essential wildlife habitat. The dispute has now resurfaced with new potency.

The King Cove Road Land Exchange Act, which was recently passed in the House and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in the Senate, would trade away globally important habitat in the heart of the Izembek Refuge to allow construction of this destructive and unnecessary road.

If enacted, the bill would irreparably damage an internationally recognized conservation area, threaten the survival of imperiled species, like the Steller’s eider, and set a precedent that would undermine our nation’s bedrock environmental laws and jeopardize the integrity of wildlife refuges and wilderness protections on public lands across the country.

The proposed road would cost taxpayers tens of millions of additional dollars to solve a “problem” that the federal government previously addressed with a more effective, less destructive, transportation solution.

Mining for Trouble in Bristol Bay

Every year, tens of millions of wild salmon return to the Bristol Bay, Alaska, where they join an incredible diversity of wildlife ranging from Pacific walrus and beluga whales to brown bears. Despite the incalculable value of these species and the clear, clean water of the bay, or the very tangible value of these resources to the regional recreation and tourism economies, this administration is threatening to jeopardize it all to allow the permitting process to proceed for a Canadian company to open a massive gold and copper mine. This decision overturns a robust, public Obama-era review that declined issuing a permit to the company.

Mining in the bay’s watershed would require massive earthen dam construction, development of a 100-mile road through important salmon habitat, and diversion of nearly 35 billion gallons of water a year from salmon streams and rivers. These activities will expose all manner of species to habitat loss, increased vehicular and vessel traffic in Cook Inlet, which could impact endangered Cook Inlet belugas, and the potential for the mine’s massive earthen wall to collapse that would forever ruin this vital ecosystem.

Tribulations for Teshekpuk Lake

The area around Teshekpuk Lake in Alaska is incredibly important for wildlife – polar bears make their dens there, migratory birds spend their summers along the shoreline and tens of thousands of caribou call it home.

Teshekpuk Lake is located inside the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPRA) – an Indiana-sized expanse covering much of the western Arctic. Despite its name, the NPRA is required to be managed both for conservation of its remarkable wildlife values and oil and gas development. In 2013, after a lengthy robust planning process involving numerous local, regional and national stakeholders, the Bureau of Land Management finalized a management plan that allows oil and gas development on over 11 million acres in the area, but protects the important habitat around Teshekpuk Lake by designating it “unavailable for leasing.”

Unfortunately, this successful resource management plan could be short-lived. In May, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed an order requiring a review of the Obama administration’s plan for managing this area, but rather than holding a transparent and public process, and expedite the opening of Teshekpuk Lake up for exploitation by oil and gas interests.

Fighting for “The Last Frontier”

The Trump administration and some in Congress have a keen interest in Alaska, so do we – but for very different reasons. We and most Americans, want to enjoy and preserve Alaska’s wildlife, lands and waters, while current leadership is driven by greed, unfazed by what they could ruin in pursuit of their objectives.

Help us fight back against this administration’s relentless attacks against our wildlife and wild places. Donate by September 30th and your gift will be matched 2-for-1 up to $1000,000.

28 Responses to “The War on the Wild: Alaska at the Forefront”

  1. Lori Angelo

    Leave some wild places alone!!! Alaska and the Artic are our last frontiers. It’s necessary to have future generations enjoy these beautiful lands!!

    Reply
  2. Gerri Baer

    Please have some compassion on these animals; and, do not allow their homes to be destroyed. They have every right to live; the same, as you and I.

    Reply
  3. Emily Charles

    Alaska is my home. My family and ancestors trace our blood all the way back to the Ice Age, our bloodlines are like the rivers that provide salmon. We are part of the natural ecosystem and food chain. When Russian trappers came, they killed millions of animals, especially in the Aluetians. They forced natives to kill tons of wildlife. Then Alaska was sold to the U.S. Missionaries came and started boarding schools to “civilize” Alaskan natives. Children were taken away to these schools, and were taught Church. Horrors like rape happened often in these schools. Now today, sport hunters want their “traditional right” to hunt wildlife for fun. Law is on their side much of the time. Native Alaskans are denied their right to hunt and fish TRADITIONALY, culturally, for subsistence. People across the world bash Alaskan cultures for some things, like whaling. Whales are hunted in Alaska by Alaskan natives, for subsistence. I know people find it hard to realize, but traditional whaling is part of our culture. We respect the animals. Whales are hunted on mass scale in Norway, Japan, and Finland to be sold to factory fur farms and tourists. Or “scientific” research.
    It is shameful and disrespectful for “leaders” to allow barbaric trophy hunting of Alaskas natural predators and animals. Living in Hawaii currently, it is unrealistic to host “Save Alaska’s bears and wolves!” On a tropical beach. But Alaska is home, and when I move back, I promise to do everything to protect native Alaska.

    Reply
  4. Nicole

    Please don’t do this to Alaska and the Arctic!! Let our beautiful frontier continue to be just that!

    Reply
  5. David Klass

    Please don’t destroy the natural habitat and species of our last frontiers simply for greed!

    Reply
  6. Phyl

    It’s a shame that big business just want money no matter who or what they destroy! It’s a shame US government protect big businesses…yep, our government officials take lots of money from them.

    Reply
    • Mary Bobadilla

      Yes, its all about money today! The hell with the wilderness, the hell with the people! We all need to continue standing up for those who are only looking to get richer………for the sake of our future!

  7. Jane Johnson

    We as a society definitely need to speak up and support our wild places now more then ever! Wilderness is disappearing fast. A world without animals and natural habitats would be very sad indeed. Making a difference can be as easy as supporting others who are trying to help. I get lots of my gifts from one of my favorite Etsy shops that donates to Animal conservation efforts. Such a good cause we can all be happy about, I love there name too!

    LoveHopeWorld’s shop on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/LoveHopeWorld

    Reply
  8. Moyie Silva

    Please keep this earth’s natural wilderness intact and prevent the wildlife from being killed. The forests need them to thrive.

    Reply
  9. Moyie Silva

    Please keep this earth’s natural wilderness intact and prevent the wildlife from being killed. The forests need them to thrive. Protect our wildlife. And wilderness.

    Reply
  10. Brenda Burgess

    Please protect our wild life not someone pocket they are innocent animals and remember you are not they where put here for a reason and too be destroyed by GREED

    Reply
  11. Carol

    It’s disgusting to do this to our animals.Trump you need to act for America’s people .it’s not all about you!!!!!

    Reply
  12. Michael Wiseman Sr

    The only way to stop Trump is not to re-elect him ! All he cares about is making money . He might be interested in their fur for his wife’s coats !

    Reply
  13. Michael Wiseman Sr

    All Trump cares about is making money . Or maybe their fur for his wife’s coats !!

    Reply
  14. Rita Nelson

    Alaska has a congressman who loves to kill animals. Get rid of the guy. Most people love animals, some don’t care and I suspect it is those who haven’t been around animals, Trump, I doubt he is too fond of animals, living in an condo in N Y. However, the American people should have the say. Write and call, petition and scream and holler, Let them know what You Want!!!! Alaska should remain pristine.

    Reply
  15. MaureenLoCascio

    I am so sick at heart that this illegitimate president wants to ravage the beauty & wildlife in this most pristine place.
    I pray we can keep this from occurring . His greed knows no boundaries .
    We must fight until he is out of the White House

    Reply
  16. Fran Oakes

    This is beyond sad — prayers for this and all wildlife homes and family members — what is the government thinking ?? Oh ,that’s right ,it’s not !!

    Reply
  17. Donna Underwood

    Stop destroying our natural preserves and inhumane killing of our wildlife.
    It is time to move on to more energy efficient options, instead of destroying everything just because you can. We all know that TRUMP could give a damn about preserving for the future. We all know how he lies, bullies, and is just such a pathetic nonhuman. That’s right nonhuman, no empathy, no heart and definitely no soul. You make fun and joke about our Vice Presidents brain cancer. Well, you know what we think of you, and there are a lot more people making fun of you. What do you do to stay so orange? Tanning lotion!
    WHAT ABOUT VIRGINIA? YOU HAVE MANAGED TO BRING OUT MORE RACISM NOW, INSTEAD OF STANDING FOR ONE COUNTRY. YOU BROUGHT THE KKK OUT OF HIDING. NOW THEY’RE IN THEIR WHITES, AND YOU CAUSED THIS. I IMAGINE THAT YOU HAVE YOUR OWN SET OF WHITES. WE ALL KNOW HOW RACIST YOU ARE. NOW YOU’RE TRYING TO MAKE PROMISES TO THE BLACK COMMUNITY TO MAKE THINGS BETTER. WELL, WE ALL KNOW WHAT YOUR PROMISES ARE WORTH.
    With your attitude, temper tantrums, and cry baby personality, how much did it cost you to buy your wife? Your so called friends? That would be the only way anyone could tolerate you. But, yes we see that, because every time you try to touch your wife, she pulls back, probably gets a little sick also. So cry a river.

    LEAVE OUR UNITED STATES PROTECTED LANDS ALONE, OUR MONUMENTS, AND MOST OF ALL OUR WILDLIFE.

    FIND MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY WAYS TO POWER OUR COUNTRY. INSTEAD YOU AND YOUR CRONIES JUST WANT TO BE GREEDY, DESTROY OUR UNITED STATES FOR OIL.

    Reply
  18. Donna Underwood

    Trump doesn’t want our Country to bensure the United States of America. In his messes up head, it’s now The United States of Trump.
    It is way past time to Impeach Trump. If we have to have an emergency election, that’s what we need to do to really clean up the mess Trump has caused.
    This time give us some real candidates to choose from. We didn’t have much of a choice this past election. The people should choose who gets to be President, not these Electoral votes, where they have their own agenda and probably are paid for their votes.

    Reply
  19. Jean Kyle Velasquez

    It Should The Killings Of Animals In Alaska Must Stop! And Arrest All The Corrupt Officials Climate Deniers And Animal Hunter Now!

    Reply
  20. CARMEN OWENS

    BECAUSE WE HAVE CORRUPT LOCAL LEADERSHIP AND GREEDY SELF SERVING CORRUPT POLITICIANS IN EVERY WALK OF GOVERNMENT…MONEY ,BEFORE PEOPLE.MONEY BEFORE NATURE AND ANIMALS

    Reply

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