WASHINGTON – “The arctic refuge still bears scars from seismic tests carried out in a limited area more than 30 years ago”, said Natalie Dawson, CEO of Audubon Alaska. “This poses a serious threat to polar bears and other important species during their most vulnerable time of year in the refuge.”
Today, the Bureau of Land Management released a plan of operations and proposed measures that would pave the way for seismic exploration on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Area by SAExploration from December of this year.
“Not only has SAExploration filed for bankruptcy protection, it appears to be embroiled in serious legal issues,” Dawson added. “The Bureau of Land Management turns a blind eye to this and allows this to happen without a full environmental review. These irresponsible political decisions will cause irreversible damage to this fragile landscape. “
Modern seismic methods have carved out an even denser grid of trails that will leave about 20,000 miles of trails crisscrossing – that’s the equivalent of almost a full trip around Earth in a space the size of South Carolina. Convoys of 90,000 lb trucks, tractors and bulldozers rolled over vast areas of fragile tundra 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for months. These intrusive activities would cause lasting damage to the Arctic National Wildlife Area.
“It is unacceptable to rush to approve the authorization without stopping to take full account of the damage to wildlife and the planet.” said Nada Culver, Vice President, Public Lands and Senior Policy Advisor, National Audubon Society, “Offering a comment period of only 14 days and refusing to prepare a full environmental impact statement confirms the agency’s willful disregard for all the damage seismic exploration will cause to the Refuge’s coastal plain.”
Birds from all US states rely on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. From Pacific Brant in California, to the Semipalmated Sandpipers seen in Florida, and the Snow Geese that winter in the Southwest, they all make the incredible journey back to their summer home in the Arctic. The refuge is the calving ground for the Porcupine caribou herd, a critical livelihood resource for the indigenous peoples of Alaska and Canada, and is the most important calving habitat for bears. white people from the United States. In winter, the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Area supports the highest density of suitable calving habitat for the vulnerable polar bear population of the southern Beaufort Sea.
Matt Smelser, National Audubon Society, [email protected], 512.739.9635
Rebecca Sentner, Audubon Alaska, [email protected], 907.276.7034
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works across the Americas using science, advocacy, education and conservation on the ground. State programs, nature centers, chapters and partners give Audubon an unprecedented scale reaching millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A non-profit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.
Since 1977, Audubon Alaska has conserved Alaska’s spectacular natural ecosystems for people, birds and other wildlife. Audubon Alaska uses science to identify conservation priorities and support conservation actions and policies, with a focus on public lands and waters. Audubon Alaska is a state office of the National Audubon Society. Learn more at ak.audubon.org.