Secretary Jewell made the right call for a vital national wildlife refuge
Since August, I have been waiting to hear the news. Would Secretary Jewell make the right decision, would she listen to her own Fish and Wildlife Service; to the largest Alaska Native organization, the Association of Village Council Presidents; to Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation groups; to her gut – or would she fail to protect one of our country’s treasured and vital national wildlife refuges?
Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is home to world-renowned, irreplaceable habitat, internationally significant wetlands and wilderness critical to a diverse array of wildlife species including five species of salmon, wolves, foxes, wolverines, caribou, moose, brown bears, shorebirds and seabirds, and marine mammals, including many threatened species. In essence, Izembek is such a special place that the American public long ago deemed it critical to permanently protect. However, the real permanency of this protection was called into question when residents of a nearby village proposed building a road straight through the biological heart of the refuge.
Building a road through Izembek would not only have impacted the refuge and the many species that depend on it, but would have set a devastating precedent for the future wellbeing of all of our country’s wildlife refuges and designated wilderness.
Thankfully, we have another reason to celebrate in this season of cheer. As Defenders and others consistently urged her to do, Secretary Jewell made the right decision – she will not allow the road to tear through some of the most ecologically sensitive land in our nation.
Courtney Sexton, Communications Associate