On Wednesday, September 6th the Department of the Interior (DOI) proposed a rule safeguarding 13 million acres within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. The rule would conserve critical habitat for fish and wildlife species. The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska encompasses 23 million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the largest contiguous block of public land in the United States, and the rule would conserve critical habitat for fish and wildlife species.
The DOI’s proposed rule would protect five Special Areas within the National Petroleum Reserve, totaling 13 million acres containing an estimated 37,000 miles of coldwater streams and 1.1 million acres of lakes and ponds. Future oil and gas leasing and industrial development would be limited in the Special Areas, which are well-known for their significant natural and historical values and provide unique habitat for fish and wildlife reliant upon migration corridors and aquatic connectivity. Included in the protections is Teshekpuk Lake, the largest lake in the Alaskan Arctic, the largest thermokarst lake in the world—formed by thawing permafrost—and one of the most biologically productive and diverse wetland ecosystems within the Arctic.
“Opportunities to protect 13 million acres do not come around very often,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “This rulemaking would safeguard vital habitat for fish and wildlife. We applaud the administration’s work to protect fish and wildlife habitat for the benefit of all Americans.”
The Special Areas also provide a bulwark against climate change, as their carbon storage would be preserved. The rule would raise the bar for development through establishment of clear guidelines consistent with the current BLM management plan. The rule would also establish an outright prohibition on any new leasing in 10.6 million acres, more than 40% of the NPRA.
Protecting 13 million acres, about twice the size of Massachusetts, in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is part of the administration’s effort to conserve 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to caring for and recovering America’s rivers and streams so our children can experience the joy of wild and native trout and salmon. Across the country, TU brings to bear local, regional and national grassroots organizing, durable partnerships, science-backed policy muscle, and legal firepower on behalf of trout and salmon fisheries, healthy waters and vibrant communities.
- Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited President and CEO, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Drew YoungeDyke, National Communications Director, email@example.com