Yellow-billed Loons nest in the wetlands around Teshekpuk Lake.
In 2013, Audubon and supporters like you submitted comments to help protect 11 million acres of globally important Arctic bird habitat within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The resulting land management plan safeguarded one of the world’s most important Arctic wetlands, Teshekpuk Lake—the home for hundreds of thousands of shorebirds, nesting loons, and vulnerable molting geese—while allowing for energy development in less-sensitive areas. It also recognized the importance of areas along the Colville River where raptors nest, such as Rough-legged Hawks, Arctic Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, and Gyrfalcons.
But now, the Bureau of Land Management is rewriting this plan, seeking to overturn protections for these irreplaceable wetlands and making them available for sale to the oil industry. In a place experiencing the effects of climate change at an accelerated rate, opening additional areas to oil production is irresponsible. Please send public comments to oppose drilling in the special Teshekpuk Lake wetlands and maintain recognition of the Colville River.
Note: Your name, city, state, and comment will become part of the public record.
Photo: Tom Wilberding/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
To Bureau of Land Management:
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I oppose increasing oil and gas development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A). The NPR-A contains world-class wilderness areas and wildlife habitat, including the globally-significant Teshekpuk Lake wetlands complex. For the past forty years, Teshekpuk Lake and its surrounding wetlands have been recognized and protected for its extraordinary wildlife values. A new land management plan in the NPR-A should continue to exclude oil and gas development in and around Teshekpuk Lake and consider the additional effects development would have on a changing landscape that is already feeling the impacts from climate change.
The Teshekpuk Lake wetlands comprise one of the premiere habitats in the entire circumpolar Arctic. The wetlands are a haven for molting geese. The coastline north of the lake provides denning habitat for polar bears. More than half a million shorebirds nest around Teshekpuk Lake. South of the lake, loons and ducks find optimal breeding conditions. The Teshekpuk Caribou Herd gives birth to calves, forages, and winters in habitat around the lake. The sheer number of so many birds and wildlife make Teshekpuk a place that merits stronger, not weaker, protections.
The cliffs along the Colville River provide important nesting habitat for several species of raptors, including Rough-legged Hawks, Arctic Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, and Gyrfalcons. In an otherwise flat tundra landscape, the relatively tall cliffs provide both safety and better vantage points for hunting for these predators.
The oil industry is already undertaking a program of exploration and development in areas nearby at an accelerated rate. Rapid climate change in the Arctic means that oil and gas development should be curtailed, not expanded, in the NPR-A. Maintaining the decades-long protections to the Teshekpuk Lake wetlands and the recognition of the Colville River Special Area demonstrates a core principle of responsible Arctic management for this and future administrations.
Copyright 2019 National Audubon Society, Inc.