The first month of the year brought several significant victories in Alaska, two in particular, which were secured in part thanks to the promotion of Audubon and its members. We expect more Alaska news to emerge in the coming months, specifically about Willow’s Master Plan development in the western Arctic. We will continue to let you know how you can take action.
Victory in Bristol Bay
In an unusual move, the Biden-Harris Administration used its veto authority under the Clean Water Act to reject a proposal that would have developed one of the world’s largest open-pit gold mines in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Located in southwestern Alaska, Bristol Bay is home to some of the world’s largest concentrations of seabirds, dozens of important bird areas, and the world’s largest salmon runs.
The proposed mine would destroy 3,500 acres of wetlands, lakes and ponds, and more than 80 miles of salmon streams. It is estimated that between 8 and 13 million pelagic seabirds feed in the area. More than a million seabirds nest there, such as tufted puffins. And up to 75,000 threatened Steller’s Eiders use this area. Shorebirds, ducks, geese, and countless other birds flock to feed, rest, and breed in this amazing marine ecosystem.
Audubon Alaska and the National Audubon Society have been fighting alongside tribal groups and other local communities for more than a decade to protect the rich resources of Bristol Bay from the threat of this massive mine. More than 55,000 Audubon members submitted comments against the mining project. This is news we should all celebrate.
No Road Rule Reset
The Biden-Harris Administration restored important protections for the Tongass National Forest. In October 2020, the US Department of Agriculture lifted roadless restrictions on more than 9 million acres of the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, areas previously determined by the US Forest Service. USA as critical for protection.
Audubon fought this action in court and publicly advocated with Tribes and other local partners in Alaska. More than 60,000 Audubon members submitted comments requesting that these protections be reinstated. The administration’s decision to reinstate the no-road rule is a clear result of our collective action.
The Tongass National Forest is home to more than 40% of the birds in all of North America, including red-breasted sapsuckers and marbled murrelets, as well as salmon, bear, deer, and hundreds of other wildlife. .
As the largest national forest in the country, the Tongass also plays an important role in stabilizing climate change. According Audubon Natural Climate Solutions Reportthe Tongass National Forest contains 44% of all carbon stored in the US National Forest system. It also contains some of the oldest forests in the nation, including some of the largest remaining stands in the world of ancient Sitka Spruce and Red Cedar trees.
Important threatened bird area
As you may have seen, a Trump-era land swap still threatens the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for road development. Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is located along the Bering Sea side of the Alaska Peninsula, and is an Important Bird Area and a designated wetland site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The area regularly supports more than half of the world population of emperor geese and a significant percentage of the world population of Steller’s Eider and Taverner’s Cackling Goose. More than 82 species have been documented there.
You can take action today by telling the Department of the Interior that you oppose this proposal.