Check Out the Adorable Creatures and Gorgeous Vistas Obama Wants to Protect in Alaska

Dall sheep are one of the 250 animal species that depend on the coastal plain in ANWR. USFWS

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


On Sunday, President Obama announced that he will call on Congress to increase the protection of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by adding more than 12 million acres of it to the National Wilderness Preservation System—the highest level of conservation protection. If Congress signs on, which is pretty unlikely, it would be the largest wilderness designation since the Wilderness Act, signed in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The refuge covers nearly 20 million acres and contains five distinct ecological regions. It is home to at least 200 species of birds, 37 land mammal species, eight marine mammal species, and 42 species of fish. There are plenty of political reasons why Obama wants to protect it, but here are a few of the ecological ones:

ANWR

The coastal plain provides spring grazing for caribou and other mammals. Associated Press

Conservationists argue that oil and gas drilling in the coastal plain would threaten the millions of birds that nest there. USFWS

MUSKOX

The furry musk ox—the Inupiat’s call it “omingmak” (“the bearded one”)—lives on the coastal plain year round. USFWS

There is a unique ecosystem of animals—that includes the arctic fox—that have adapted to survive in ANWR. USFWS

Tundra swan

Tundra swans rely on the remote and undeveloped refuge to nest. USFWS

Caribou

Caribou migrate through the coastal plain. David Gustine/USGS

According to the US Department of the Interior, oil and gas development could pollute water resources in ANWR. USFWS

ANWR is an important denning area for polar bears. Alan D. Wilson

The Alaska marmot, considered highly vulnerable to changes in habitat, calls ANWR home. USFWS

To hear Obama talk about the importance of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, watch this video:

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate