Make the Arctic Refuge a National Monument | Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Today marks 50 years since President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on a beautiful and vast stretch of land on Alaska’s northern coast.

Since then, local communities, conservationists and political champions of all backgrounds have stood by President Eisenhower’s defense of the Arctic Refuge’s “unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values” by uniting to stave off repeated attempts to open the area to oil and gas development.

As we celebrate the refuge’s 50th anniversary, we must do everything we can to be sure that the area — one of America’s last truly wild places — is protected for generations to come. President Obama has the power to protect the Arctic Refuge for our grandchildren by designating it a National Monument.

While the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may seem millions of miles away from most Americans, the reality is that the Arctic is all around us. More than 180 species of birds visit the Arctic Refuge every year. And, every year, birds that begin their lives on the Arctic Refuge’s Coastal Plain journey to all 50 states and across six continents before heading back to the Arctic, where the cycle of life begins again. Right here in New Jersey, we share lots of species with the refuge, such as the tundra swan, canvasback, semipalmated sandpiper and snowy owl. Also, thousands of people from New Jersey visit the Arctic every year.

The Arctic Refuge serves as the origin of life for more than just birds. Scientists consider the Coastal Plain to be the “biological heart” of the Arctic Refuge, which is home to numerous mammals, including the porcupine caribou herd, grizzly bears, musk oxen, Dall sheep, wolves and wolverines. In fact, the Arctic Refuge is the most important land denning site for our country’s threatened population of polar bears….

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