Western Arctic Public Lands Receive Greater Protections

For Immediate Release 

April 19, 2024

Contact: Thomas Plank 303-720-0111, [email protected]

Western Arctic Public Lands Receive Greater Protections

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As a leading advocate for our wild public lands, waters, and wildlife, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) applauded a final rule announced today by the Department of the Interior that will maximize protections for 13 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A).

The NPR-A covers approximately 23 million acres of the Western Arctic, the largest tract of public land in the United States. The rule strengthens oil and gas regulations in the NPR-A and maximizes the conservation of roughly 13 million acres of designated Special Areas: Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Uplands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon, and Peard Bay.

These actions expand protections for wildlife including the Teshekpuk and Western Arctic caribou herds and musk ox, and nesting grounds for vast flocks of geese, ducks, and swans. Doing so fulfills the legal requirement that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) balance oil and gas development with the conservation of fish and wildlife, recreation, subsistence hunting, and other values.

Through a framework developed under the rule, in the coming weeks the BLM will solicit public comment on the consideration of adding resource values to existing Special Areas, expanding Special Areas, or creating new Special Areas.

“As an Alaskan hunter I have found the solace provided by America’s Arctic a backcountry experience beyond compare,” said Barry Whitehill, vice chair of the Alaska Chapter of BHA. “I extend our gratitude to the Biden administration for finalizing a rule that will strengthen the conservation of more than 13 million acres of designated Special Areas. This new framework will properly recognize the significant subsistence, recreational, fish and wildlife, historical and scenic values found nowhere else on Earth.” 

Bordering the Chukchi Sea to the west and the Beaufort Sea to the north, the Western Arctic has riches for any public lands hunter or public waters angler. BHA is looking forward to building strong protections for the shared habitat in the Arctic.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands, waters, and wildlife.

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