News for Immediate Release
June 2, 2021
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers commends Biden administration decision to support wildlife-rich habitat in Alaska
MISSOULA, Mont. – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers commended a move by the Biden administration to suspend oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska – and for taking a step toward conserving wildlife-rich public lands in the Arctic North.
The administration’s decision heeds the calls of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members, supporters and partners, who have consistently urged decision-makers to utilize the best available science and avoid pursuing development in sensitive wildlife habitat across Alaska’s Arctic regions. Its action follows an executive order from earlier this year that temporarily bars oil and gas development on the refuge’s coastal plain.
BHA President and CEO Land Tawney commended the decision.
“Some places are too important – to fish and wildlife, to hunters and anglers, and to our nation’s unique outdoor legacy – to drill. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of those places,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “The forward-thinking decision by Interior Secretary Haaland to suspend leases already issued in the refuge – and complete a much-needed environmental analysis – supports a landscape that is, in a word, irreplaceable.
“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a bucket list destination for hunters all over North America, myself included,” continued Tawney. “It also supports the subsistence needs of Alaskans. Together we thank the Biden administration for taking action in support of the places that fuel our imaginations and sustain our public lands heritage.”
BHA Alaska chapter vice chair Barry Whitehill has spent considerable time in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and is an outspoken advocate for the region’s conservation.
“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is America’s last frontier, a place where the Porcupine caribou herd roams and waterfowl come to raise their young,” said Whitehill, who lives in Fairbanks. “Visiting the Arctic Refuge is a dream for anyone who’s passionate about hunting and fishing. With just a little sweat, the refuge can be visited by foot, raft or dog team, making it a relatively cheap wild Alaska experience.
“Alaska BHA members thank Secretary Haaland and the administration for pausing oil and gas leasing in this crown jewel of our public lands,” Whitehill continued. “Conducting an environmental analysis, which will accurately and scientifically determine how industrial energy development could impact the Arctic Refuge, is a critical next step. We’re confident that science will be on our side and further clarify the value of the refuge – and why allowing oil and gas development here is too risky to pursue.”
Alaska’s Arctic is a diverse region of landscapes that ranges northward to the coast of the Arctic Ocean. Within that region, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 19.3 million acres, the largest in the National Wildlife Refuge System making it the single largest undisturbed tract of public land in the United States.
In December, 20 businesses and organizations sent a letter to congressional and administrative leaders emphasizing the importance of Alaska’s Arctic North to fish and wildlife as well as hunters and anglers. BHA members have been taking action in support of conserving the Arctic Refuge and sustaining the robust populations of fish and wildlife it supports.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the voice
for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.