MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Feb. 21, 2013 – Ducks Unlimited applauds today's announcement from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approving a management plan for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A). This plan will balance the needs of countless wildlife—including important populations of several waterfowl species and shorebirds—with exploration for oil and gas.
"Ducks Unlimited stands alongside our conservation partners in support of the Department of Interior's plan for the NPR-A," DU CEO Dale Hall said in an official statement today. "This balance between economic opportunity and protecting the integrity of key waterfowl and wildlife habitats is a forward-thinking approach to conservation and one that will serve as an important example for our nation going forward."
The NPR-A is one of the Arctic's greatest migratory bird nesting and molting areas and is the summer home to hundreds of thousands of birds. It provides critical molting areas for up to 30 percent of the entire population of Pacific Flyway brant, 25 percent of the midcontinent population of greater white-fronted geese and a growing number of lesser snow and Canada geese.
The NPR-A's Teshekpuk Lake Special Area (TSLA) was of foremost concern for DU during the planning process; it's the center of the world's largest Arctic wetland and the heart of an international waterfowl migration. The plan released today indicates that 11 million acres—including approximately 3.1 million within the TSLA—will be dedicated to protecting critical areas for waterfowl and other birds and will not be made available for oil and gas leasing.
"While DU's focus is wetlands and waterfowl, the habitats of the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area are also critically important for caribou, grizzlies, other wildlife species and public uses, including hunting and other outdoor recreation," said Paul Schmidt, DU's chief conservation officer. "The effects of conserving this irreplaceable landscape stretch well beyond the boundaries of the NPR-A—the impact will be continental."
In the mid-1990s, Ducks Unlimited worked closely with the Bureau of Land Management and the North Slope Borough to map the NPR-A using satellite technology. In more recent years, DU consistently provided the Department of Interior with scientific support documenting waterfowl habitats and contributed management recommendation plans to ensure protection of unique and valuable habitat.
"We have recognized from the beginning the magnitude of this conservation effort in Alaska and how it will affect not only our precious waterfowl resources, but also many other species of wildlife and the people who enjoy them," Hall said. "We will continue supporting the efforts of the Department of Interior and others to ensure this plan is a success and the skies continue to be filled with waterfowl that depend on the NPR-A's resources during their life cycle."
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/ducksunlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/ducksunlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/ducksunlimitedinc.