April 13, 2012
Colorado's wildlife enthusiasts - sportsmena nd ther conservationists - have the opportunity to voice their opinions to protect vital wildlife habitat and waterfowl nesting areas in the 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve in northwestern Alaska, managed by BLM. The comment period ends May 29. See below.
DENVER CO - April 11, 2012 – Colorado’s hunters, anglers, other conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts have the opportunity to voice their opinions to protect vital wildlife habitat and waterfowl nesting areas in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (“Reserve”), according to a Bureau of Land Management notice in the March 30 issue of the Federal Register. The 23-million acre Reserve is the largest single tract of public land in the United States and is managed by the BLM.
Why should Coloradoans care about wilderness in northwestern Alaska?” asks Kent Ingram, a passionate Colorado hunter and angler and former Alaska resident. “The Reserve is important to Coloradoans because many of us recreate in Alaska, whether it is hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, wildlife photography, or birding. I personally have hunted much big game in Alaska and continue to fish there extensively.” In addition, it is important that leasing public lands for energy development there, as well as here in Colorado, be planned in a balanced manner that protects important wildlife habitat. The way this public land is protected also can serve as a precedent for how other public lands that have important wildlife habitat can be managed.
“ This is a unique opportunity for Colorado’s outdoor community – hunters, fishermen, birders and other conservationists, to help advocate a balanced approach that protects areas vital to wildlife – especially waterfowl, shorebirds and big game – through public comment,” Ingram said.
Several species of waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds migrate from that area into Colorado, according to Audubon’s banding data and data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“I’ve hunted in Alaska recently as have many Coloradoans, and there is no experience quite like it. I understand how important it is to protect this irreplaceable habitat,” says Ivan James, a big game bow hunter.
The public comment period is open now, lasts for 60 days and ends June 1. Specific information and comment instructions, information about the Reserve and the BLM proposals can all be found on the National Wildlife Federation’s website. Comments can also be made through the BLM website, via fax, through the mail or comments can be hand-delivered to the BLM office.
"From key oil and gas reserves, to the Teshekpuk Lake wetlands and Western Arctic caribou herds, to the world-class breeding and nesting ground for numerous species of waterfowl, the Reserve contains resources that must be considered and balanced in a way that will best meet the present and future needs of our nation, Alaska and the local residents who depend on these lands for their subsistence way of life," said Bud Cribley, BLM's state director in Alaska. "We need the public's input to ensure the best management plan is put in place for this area."
The National Wildlife Federation, Colorado Wildlife Federation and many others are working to protect key habitats in the Reserve and urges Coloradoans to take the time to comment to help protect those habitats.