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Top 10 Reasons to Celebrate the Arctic Refuge

See 10 reasons why the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a place worth celebrating and protecting!

  1. Home to biodiversity: Nicknamed “America’s Serengeti,” the refuge is bustling with a rich diversity of 45 species of terrestrial and marine mammals including important species like the sacred porcupine caribou herd, endangered polar bears and bowhead whales and 196 species of migratory birds. 
  1. Human right to subsistence: The native Gwich’in people rely on the Porcupine Caribou herd for their most basic and essential physical, cultural, social, economic, and spiritual needs.  Their right to continue their way of life based on these creatures and land is a basic human right protected by article 1 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. 
  1. Economic value: The refuge’s natural habitat supports a prosperous and sustainable economy of ecotourism, guided hunting, recreation, and transportation that supports Alaskans with jobs and income.  214 Alaskan businesses have pledged their support to the continued use of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for these industries.[1] 
  1. Historical heritage: Wilderness values and the conservation of land are a vital part of the American identity and experience.  Harvey Broome, co-founder of the Wilderness Society explained the importance of maintaining wild places to the functioning of our republic claiming: “without wilderness, we will eventually lose the capacity to understand America.”
  1. Scientific value:  Intact ecosystems like the ones protected by the Refuge system are priceless in terms of their scientific value.  In 2005 1,000 members of the scientific community, led by Edward O. Wilson made an unprecedented expression of advocacy in signing a letter to George W. Bush describing the refuge’s unique value for research.[2]
  1. Spiritual resource:  Wild places offer unique opportunities for reflection, observation, and exploration of the self and its myriad relationships.
  1. Biophyscial value: Wilderness provides vital and priceless biological services like air and water purification, waste disposal, habitat and the maintenance of biodiversity and ecological processes that keep the earth running.  Ecosystem benefits have been estimated at more than $33 trillion per year for the entire planet, more than twice the value of all goods and services traded in markets![3]
  1. Psychological safety valve: Knowing that there is a place where people can go to escape the incessant pressures of modern society and reunite with an older, purer way of life provides psychological satisfaction to Americans as a whole.  In the words of Charles Konigsbug: “we are all made better, more human, even if its just in knowing that such a special place is held inviolate for our fellow creatures-and for us as well.”
  1. The Refuge is unique: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is our largest and most northern national wildlife refuge.  It is the crucial and only remaining protected habitat for many of its inhabitants, including humans. 
  1. It’s all connected: Humanity is part of an interconnected "web of life," and that the survival of our own species may ultimately depend on the survival of natural areas like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“Conservation is a celebration of life in its totality”-Morris K. Udall


[2] Arctic Refuge Science Letter signatories to the Honorable George W. Bush, 2005; Edward O. Wilson to Colleagues, 5 January 2005, RKP.

[3] Steve Colt, January 2, 2001, Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage.“The Economic Importance of Healthy Alaska Ecosystems” Page 4.From Costanza et, al. 1997.


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