Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)

A special place

Located in the far north of Alaska, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) provides a remarkable diversity of nesting habitat and food supplies for birds. At last count, 195 species use the Refuge as their breeding ground.

A (mostly) protected wilderness

The federal government created the Arctic Refuge in 1960 and expanded it in 1980, declaring most of it a protected wildlife refuge where no development is allowed. The one exception is the narrow coastal plain on which huge numbers of birds, caribou, and other animals—many of them threatened—depend. Section 1002 of the expanded law left open the possibility that Congress could one day permit oil drilling on the coastal plain. So far, Congress has not done so, but the issue is debated nearly every year.

Pacific Loon on nest
Photograph by Subhankar Banerjee