Wolf Art by Lawrence Dean Charlie

Caribou Art by Lawrence Dean Charlie


Page 4

Threat to the Vuntut Gwitchin, Gwitch’in Nation, and the Porcupine Caribou Herd.
Today, this traditional way of life is being threatened. Oil and gas companies want to develop and thus invade such sensitive areas as the calving grounds and the wintering grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd.

The calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd lie primarily in the 1.5 million - acre coastal plain or ‘1002 lands’* of the 19.3 million - acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge located in the northeastern corner of Alaska. Each summer this relatively small area - often referred to as the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge - is inhabited by the 152,000 - 180,000 - strong Porcupine Caribou Herd, which travels to this area during its annual spring migration. It is here that over 50,000 calves are born every summer. The Caribou prefer the coastal plain, for its flat open area makes it easier to watch for predators. Also the cool breezes from the Arctic Ocean give nursing mothers and newborn calves some relief from the ever-present mosquitoes. Not only the birthplace of the Porcupine caribou and the culture of the Gwitch’in, this coastal plain is home to denning polar bears, wolves, grizzly bears, and in the summer months, over 135 different species of migratory birds.

Often compared with the African Serengeti, this area is truly America’s ‘Last Great Wilderness.’ Considering the existence of Ivvavik Park and Vuntut Park on the Canadian side of the boarder in the Yukon, if the coastal plain was also permanently protected, this international area would be a complete, protected arctic ecosystem, preserved and intact. Our goal is to see all of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including the 1002 lands kept TOTALLY WILD FOREVER.
Who opposes permanent protection of the coastal plain (‘1002 lands)?
Both the oil industry and the ‘Alaskan congressional delegation’ ( made up of
Alaskan US House Representative and the two Alaskan Senators ) want to go into this truly sacred area to seek out any oil it may be able to find.

Why do they want to get into the Refuge? The oil industry is, as always, searching for greater and greater profits, while the Alaskan politicians seek re-election on a platform of higher annual dividend payments to Alaskans through the oil-funded Permanent Fund. This fund was created back in the 1970s by the state of Alaska to create a savings account from oil revenues. Each year a portion of the interest from that fund is paid out in dividends to every man, women, and child of Alaska. . In 1998, each Alaskan resident was paid USD. The Alaskan congressional delegation argued that the coastal plain must be opened up to development as an issue of national security, citing the Middle East OPEC crisis back in the 1970s which affected the world. However, this argument has no basis, as this same delegation pushed through legislation that now allows Alaskan oil to be exported to Asia. Further; the latest scientific reports state there is a less than 50% chance of finding commercially viable oil in the region.

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