FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kristina Johnson, (415) 977-5619 (San Francisco)
On 50th Anniversary of Arctic Refuge, Tens of Thousands of Americans Call for National Monument Protection
Washington, D.C. – Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In the weeks leading up to the anniversary, more than 45,000 people have contacted President Obama and asked him to protect this rare and precious wild place by naming it a National Monument.
“For decades, we’ve had to fend off attempts by the oil and gas industries to drill the Arctic Refuge. Now, those efforts are mounting again,” said Sierra Club Arctic Campaign Director Dan Ritzman. “By designating the Arctic Refuge a National Monument, President Obama can give the Refuge the protection it deserves.”
Throughout December, the Sierra Club will continue its “I Heart the Arctic” campaign to celebrate the anniversary and call for a National Monument. In addition to reaching out to millions of activists, the campaign has included anniversary parties in every state, a new web site, online ads, a rally with members of Congress in Washington, D.C., and most recently, a video featuring young Arctic wildlife.
“President Obama has a rare and important opportunity now to protect the Arctic’s caribou, bears, birds and other wildlife from drilling,” Ritzman said. “By protecting the Refuge, President Obama can signal that we are not willing to sacrifice America’s shared natural treasures just so a handful of oil executives can increase their profits. And he can ensure that we pass a wild legacy down to our children and grandchildren.”
The coastal waters, rolling tundra, wild rivers, wetlands, ponds, and deep lakes of the Arctic support a stunning array of wildlife. Nearly 200 bird species nest on the tundra and wetlands, while caribou, musk oxen, wolverines, and grizzlies roam the vast expanses of wild lands.In addition to threats from oil drilling, the Arctic’s wildlife are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Due to global warming, average temperatures are rising twice as fast in the Arctic as elsewhere the world, with devastating effects not only to sea ice, but to tundra, permafrost, and forests.