Bears of the Last Frontier Important Tool in Protecting 11 Million Acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

Photo (c) Brenda Phillips

On February 21, 2013, former Interior Secretary Salazar issued a Record of Decision that adopted a new Integrated Activity Plan for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (Reserve). The final plan is an important step for lasting protections in the Reserve. The preferred alternative (B-2) strikes a needed balance between responsible development, while including conservation of 11 million acres of Special Areas within the Reserve.

This decision came after months of public support for the area-wide plan which the environmental community including Alaska Wilderness League contributed significantly to including 400,000 comments coming from the League’s members and activists, radio interviews, editorial and letter to the editor outreach across the country, work with leaders in tribal communities in Alaska and with members of Congress on Capitol Hill to comment around the plan, as well as hold several events across the country educating the public about special areas in the Reserve.

The large public involvement in this decision was possible because of a multi-year public outreach campaign. Bears of the Last Frontier series in Alaska was an important tool for raising awareness about the Reserve and Alaska’s wild places. Alaska Wilderness League hosted live screenings of the series in Fairbanks, AK; Minneapolis, MN; Cambridge, MA and Philadelphia, PA.  The premiere of the third episode of Bears of the Last Frontier series with footage of the Reserve, also included an advertisement which Chris Morgan contributed to and encouraged people to join the campaign. Alaska Wilderness League also shared information about the series with the League’s members nationwide and the League’s environmental coalition partners were encouraged to do the same. This helped significantly in getting interest in the issue and resulted in action when it took time to tell the Obama administration to protect areas in the Western Arctic. This education work continues today and we look forward to partnering again to help increase awareness of these areas in the Arctic.​

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