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Teshekpuk Lake

One of the most important and sensitive arctic wetland complexes in the Northern Hemisphere, the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area is home to the 45,000-head Teshekpuk Lake Caribou Herd, 60,000 molting geese, and is an important habitat for the threatened spectacled eider. Hundreds of species of birds migrate from six different continents in order to spend part of the year in Teshekpuk Lake.

Blue Marker Teshekpuk Lake
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Teshekpuk Lake and its surrounding pristine wetlands are designated as a "special area" of the United States federal lands. Since 1977, this beautiful, unspoiled area has been protected and free from large-scale industrial exploitation.

There have been efforts to open the entire Teshekpuk Lake wetlands to oil drilling. The Bush Administration tried to sell the area as part of an oil and gas lease sale held on September 27, 2006. The federal courts however, ruled that the plan was illegal, and the critical wildlife habitat around Teshekpuk Lake was removed from the sale.

Teshekpuk Lake is part of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, located in America’s Western Arctic. The Reserve was established in 1923 by President Warren Harding and was designated for use by the military during emergencies. 

In 1976, Congress passed the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act, which directed the Secretary of the Interior to create special areas in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The following year, Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus established the fragile wetlands surrounding Teshekpuk Lake as the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area. This designation meant that the wildlife, subsistence and cultural values must receive maximum protection under any future development scenario. Until recently, it was enough to protect these pristine places.

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