Public comment requested on new ANWR plan

Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 8, 2011

The Alaska community will have the opportunity to offer its opinion on the recently revised plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Friday, Nov. 11.  The Northern Studies Student Club (NORS Club) will host an event to inform the public on the draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan in the Gruening Building.

ANWR was first established as the 9-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Range in 1960 in order to preserve “unique wildlife, wilderness, and recreational values,” according to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Summary of Draft CCP.

In 1980, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) renamed it the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, adding another 10 million acres and four more purposes. ANWR is part of an effort of  conserving diverse fish and wildlife populations and habitats, fulfilling the U.S. international fish and wildlife treaty obligations. It also provides local residents the opportunity for continued subsistence, and ensuring water quantity and quality within the refuge.

This is the second opportunity for locals to present their opinions of the plan.

Last year, the public was asked to submit concerns that they thought should be addressed by the revised plan. There were 1,500 original responses and 92,500 form letters.

The revised plan has now been published and will be reviewed at the meeting. The plan is available for public comment during a 90-day period until Nov. 15 and participants are encouraged to revise the plan online before submitting comments. The more specific the comments are, the more useful they will be to the Refuge staff according to the National Wildlife Refuge System. They will consider the comments until the final plan is released in 2012.

The event will cover four themes in 10-minute intervals, with five minutes for questions between each session. The themes and speakers will be the following:

-History of ANWR by Gary Kofinas, UAF Associate Professor of Resource Policy and Management.
-What is the process of management on public lands in U.S.? by Julie Lurman Joly, UAF Associate Professor of Resources Law and Policy.
-What is in the draft CCP and what does it mean? by  Sharon Seim, ANWR natural resource planner.
-What are management challenges facing ANWR? by  Sharon Seim, ANWR planning team lead.

Three graduate students organized the event — Fatima Ochante, Northern Studies Master of Arts candidate and president of the NORS Club; Erin Shew, Northern Studies MA student; and Eleanor Wirts, Resilience and Adaptation Program doctoral student.

Presentations will be in Gruening room 208 from 7 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 11, where the four speakers will cover the history, management, background, importance of and challenges facing ANWR.  Anyone who is interested can participate and submit ideas.

For more information, visit

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