“The line between use and misuse, between objectification and celebration, is fine indeed.”
~ Gary Snyder, “Practice of the Wild”.
- Home to no known introduced species.
- Features 18 major rivers, including 3 designated Wild and Scenic Rivers.
- Hosts the greatest variety of plant and animal life in any conservation area in the circumpolar north.
- Two major caribou herds–the Porcupine and Central Arctic caribou–annually birth on the coastal plain.
ANWR preserves a unique wilderness landscape: infinite caribou herds, polar bears, grizzly bears, muskox, wolves, dall sheep, wolverines and migratory birds in the tens of thousands live here. Amazingly diverse, within the refuge’s boundaries are 5 different ecological regions, coastal marine, coastal plain tundra, alpine tundra, transitional forest/tundra and boreal forest habitats.
There are no roads in the Refuge. 19 million acres of protected land. First granted federal protections in 1960, the Refuge has been expanded over the years as advocates have shown US Congress how vital the totality of this region is; the largest intact single landscape in the country.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge sits in Alaska’s far northeast, extending from south of the Continental Divide in the Brooks Mountain Range, north over the Divide, stretching across the coastal plain to the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was designated a Wildlife Refuge in 1960, originally consisting of 8.9 million acres of land.
The refuge boundary was expanded to it’s present 19 million acres in 1980, 8 million of which are designated Wilderness under the Wilderness Act of 1964. A diverse and expansive ecosystem, the area has been home the Gwich’n, who live on the south side of the Brooks range, and the Inupiat (or Inupiaq), living on the north side along the coastal plain.
These people share the region with a diversity of wildlife: grizzly and polar bears live there, wolves, red and arctic foxes, muskox (reintroduced after being eradicated in 1860), caribou, wolverine, muskrat, moose, dall sheep, beaver, lynx and countless migratory birds, such as tundra swans, snowy owls, peregrine and gyrfalcon, golden eagles, and many more, all of whom rely on the lush coastal plain for their summertime foraging.
ANWR is an incredibly diverse area and hosts an astonishing variety of landforms and terrains.
The Brooks Range is a rugged mountain chain, running east – west across the northern edge of the continent, reaching into Canada’s Yukon Territory in the east and Alaska in the west. The mountains are not especially high, but are significant in that they form the continents’ northern most drainage divide.
The northern watershed runs into the Arctic Ocean, and the watershed to the south drains into the northern Pacific.