President Formalizes Coastal Plain Wilderness Plan, Young Responds
By MARY KAUFFMAN
April 03, 2015
In a letter today to both the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate, President Barack Obama recommended that the Congress pass legislation making additions to the National Wilderness Preservation System and the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed as part of the revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan and final EIS for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
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The President stated his recommedation is based on the best available science and extensive public comment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's preferred alternative recommends 12.28 million acres -- including the Coastal Plain -- for designation as wilderness. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also recommends four rivers -- the Atigun, Hulahula, Kongakut, and Marsh Fork Canning -- for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Following the announcement, Alaskan Congressman Don Young (R-AK) shared his thoughts. “There’s a growing theme with this Administration; bad news can only be delivered on holidays or weekends. They think they can hide from their shameful decisions while the minds of Alaskans are elsewhere, but they cannot."
Young said, “Today’s formal announcement shows us that the concerns of the Alaskan people mean absolutely nothing to this Administration. Only Congress has the ability to act on this matter, which is clearly defined in law by ANILCA. This Administration and its environmental allies would go through the roof if future Administrations began managing 12 million acres of ANWR for resource development without an Act of Congress, and this move by President Obama and Sally Jewell should be viewed no differently."
“This President’s callous decision to manage ANWR not for the people of the Arctic, but for his party’s environmental elite sends a clear and resounding message – he is not Alaska’s friend. I don't take these actions lightly and I will continue fighting against decisions that jeopardize Alaska’s future and social and economic well being. By passing ANWR legislation in the House for the 13th time, I look forward to sending this Administration a message of my own – responsible resource development remains a top priority for Congress, said Young.
On Friday, April 3, 2015, Geoffrey Haskett, Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska, signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement. The plan can now be implemented with the signing of the Record of Decision. The agency’s decision adopts the preferred alternative in the Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement , Alternative E. Alternative E recommends the three Wilderness Study Areas be designated as Wilderness and recommends four rivers for designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
President Obama announced his plans in January 2015 to ask Congress to designate the Coastal Plain and other core areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness. If Congress chooses to act, it would be the largest ever wilderness designation since Congress passed the visionary Wilderness Act over 50 years ago.
“Designating vast areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness reflects the significance this landscape holds for America and its wildlife,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in January. “Just like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s crown jewels and we have an obligation to preserve this spectacular place for generations to come.”
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