Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR or Arctic Refuge) is a national wildlife refuge in northeastern Alaska, United States. It consists of 19,286,722 acres (78,050.59 km2) in the Alaska North Slope region.[1] It is the largest National Wildlife Refuge in the country, slightly larger than the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is administered from offices in Fairbanks.

Contents

History

The move to protect this corner of Alaska began in the early 1950s. National Park Service planner George Collins and biologist Lowell Sumner recruited Wilderness Society President Olaus Murie and his wife Margaret Murie into an effort to permanently protect the area. They were joined by thousands of the era's prominent conservationists.

The region first became a federal protected area in 1960 by order of Fred Andrew Seaton, Secretary of the Interior under U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1980, Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

Eight million acres (32,000 km²) of the refuge, the Mollie Beattie Wilderness, are designated as wilderness area. The expansion of the refuge in 1980 designated 1.5 million acres (6,100 km²) of the coastal plain as the 1002 area and mandated studies of the natural resources of this area, especially petroleum. Congressional authorization is required before oil drilling may proceed in this area. The remaining 10.1 million acres (40,900 km²) of the refuge are designated as "minimal management," a category intended to maintain existing natural conditions and resource values. These areas are suitable for wilderness designation, although there are presently no proposals to designate them as wilderness.

There are presently no roads within or leading into the refuge, though there are settlements there. On the northern edge of the refuge is the Inupiat village of Kaktovik pop. 258[2] and on the southern boundary the Gwich'in settlement of Arctic Village pop 152[2] . A popular wilderness route and historic passage exists between the two villages, traversing the refuge and all its ecosystems from boreal, interior forest to Arctic Ocean coast. Generally, visitors gain access to the land by aircraft, but it is also possible to reach the refuge by boat or by walking (the Dalton Highway passes near the western edge of the refuge). In the United States, the geographic location most remote from human trails, roads, or settlements is found here, at the headwaters of the Sheenjek River.

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