By Author and Arctic Wild Guide, Michael Engelhard
This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, “a land like no other.” Let us not forget that 2010 also marks the 30th anniversary of ANILCA, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. This landmark piece of legislation protected more than 100 million acres of federal lands in Alaska, doubling the size of the country’s national park and refuge system and tripling the amount of land designated as wilderness. ANILCA expanded the national park system in Alaska by over 43 million acres, creating 10 new national parks and increasing the acreage of three existing units. Together with the Refuge, the newly established (in 1980) Gates of the Arctic National Park and Noatak National Preserve form a 1000-mile swath of mountains, rivers, tundra, and boreal forest from the Canadian border to the Bering Strait — the longest stretch of wild country left in this nation.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hosting a number of events in Alaska and the Lower Forty-Eight to honor the refuge’s anniversary:
In the fall of 2010 (in Alaska) and spring of 2011 (Outside), a photo exhibit — Arctic Sanctuary — by California large-scale photographer Jeff Jones will travel to Fairbanks, Anchorage, Portland, Albuquerque, Washington D.C., and other cities. The University of Alaska Press will publish an accompanying book (by the same title) of Jeff’s photos and essays by Laurie Hoyle and Wild Moments editor Michael Engelhard.
A documentary film — Discovering the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (working title) — will present an ecological and historical portrait of the refuge and of the people dedicated to preserving that glorious place. The USFWS also commissioned a play — Wild Legacy — based on the Murie’s writings. Lastly, refuge staff is preparing a five-panel traveling exhibit — A Sense of the Refuge — describing its physical and biological wonders, as well as its impact on people near and far.
Especially “far people” will find this an excellent opportunity to stay in touch with a place that means so much to so many. Along the way, attendees may gain knowledge that will make future visits to the refuge even more rewarding.
For more info and updates, see: http://arctic.fws.gov/50th.htm
So, crack a bottle and join the revelry!