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August 12, 2011 --- Vol. 17, No. 69August 2011

Draft ANWR management plan includes wilderness options

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it is taking public comment on a draft 15-year management plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The draft plan is called a Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement.

“The draft plan contains six alternatives for long-term management, ranging from the continuation of current practices to the designation of three geographic areas (including the Arctic Refuge coastal plain) for potential inclusion within the National Wilderness Preservation System, and the potential designation of four additional Wild and Scenic Rivers on the refuge,” the service said in a press release.

The draft plan doesn’t identify a preferred alternative. Rather, all the alternatives remain under “active consideration,” the service said.

Public comment will be taken through Nov. 15. Meantime, a series of public hearings are planned around the state. One hearing is set for Sept. 21 in Anchorage, and another on Oct. 19 in Fairbanks.

A copy of the draft plan, and additional materials, is available on the ANWR website at http://arctic.fws.gov/ccp.htm.

“If the final plan recommends additional Wilderness and/or Wild and Scenic River designations, the recommendation(s) would require approval by the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Secretary of the Interior, and the President,” the service said today. “The President would then submit the recommendation to Congress, which alone has the authority to make final decisions on any proposed Wilderness or Wild and Scenic River designations.”

Reaction to the announcement was immediate.

“I have said all along spending limited federal dollars on a review of new wilderness designation in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a waste of time and money,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. “I am glad the Interior Department did not recommend new wilderness area in their draft plan, and urge Alaskans to speak out over the coming months to ensure the coastal plain of ANWR stays on the table for oil and gas development.”

See full story in the Aug. 21 edition of Petroleum News, which will be available online to paid subscribers at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at www.petroleumnews.com.

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