On December 6, 1960, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower created the Arctic National Wildlife Range (re-designated as part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1980) by public land order, “for the purpose of preserving unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values.” The closest road is the Haul Road, 100 miles to the west.
Officially known as the Dalton Highway, it shadows the oil pipeline between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay. The only permanent Arctic Refuge residents are nonhuman: Dall’s sheep, Arctic foxes, musk-oxen, willow ptarmigan, caribou, moose, polar bears, grizzly bears and wolves. In fact, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is one of America’s wildest and most iconic public lands. And it’s a place many hunters, like me, dream of one day experiencing.
However, President Trump’s budget would squander the Arctic Refuge, and sportsmen’s dreams, in favor of more oil development. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy calculates that automobile fuel standards of 40 miles per gallon could save five times the amount of oil that may lie beneath the refuge. In addition, America is not pressed for new energy. Gas prices are low, and renewable development is at an all-time high.
Giving up such wild and iconic lands to oil and gas executives would be a mistake – one that I, along with millions of others, are urging Congress not to make. Sen. Michael Bennet has stepped up in support of our public lands and sportsmen like myself, introducing legislation to protect wilderness within the biological heart of the refuge, the 1.5 million-acre Coastal Plain. Now we need Sen. Cory Gardner to reject efforts to include ANWR drilling as part of a congressional budget deal.
David Lien, Chairman, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers