U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Yesterday, Secretary Salazar outlined a proposed plan for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) that includes added protections for caribou herds, migratory bird habitat, uplands, and sensitive coastal resources. The plan emphasizes the need to protect these critical areas while maintaining an important balance between oil and gas development and cultural and natural resource protection...
The plan identifies areas within the NPR-A that will receive special protection from development such as certain coastal areas – including Peard Bay and Kasegaluk Lagoon - that serve as habitat for seals, polar bears and other marine mammals; the Colville River raptor nesting areas; calving areas for the Teshekpuk Caribou Herd and the Western Arctic Herd; and areas important for subsistence.
The Arctic is a unique ecosystem made up of organisms adapted to its extreme conditions. It is one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world, supporting fish habitat and populations of migratory birds that come to the Arctic for the summer to breed. The NPR-A is one of the Arctic’s greatest migratory bird nesting and molting areas and is the summer home for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds, including critical molting areas for up to 30% of the entire population of Pacific Flyway brant. It also provides important nesting habitat for an array of migratory waterfowl that use the four major U.S. flyways to reach the contiguous U.S. in addition to many other countries. Canada geese, tundra swans, greater white-fronted geese, pintail ducks, and brant are among the many species of migratory birds that nest, feed, and molt in the NPR-A each year.
In addition, the NPR-A is also home to a variety of terrestrial and marine mammals, including grizzly and polar bears, caribou, wolves, and wolverine as well as beluga whales, walrus, and several species of seals. The NPR-A provides calving areas and insect relief areas for the Western Arctic Caribou Herd - Alaska’s largest herd at roughly 325,000 animals - and the 55,000 animal Teshekpuk Caribou Herd. Caribou herds in the NPR-A play a key role in subsistence and are essential to the cultural identity of thousands of Alaska Natives.
The outlined plan for the NPR-A is a critical step towards protecting these sensitive habitat areas and helps protect wildlife such as migratory birds, polar bear, and caribou for years to come.