To our supporters and friends, we write with the hope that you are faring as well as you can during these difficult days and weeks.
Your team at Alaska Wilderness League remains hard at work, as your full-time watchdog and advocate for Alaska’s public lands and waters. Like you and so many others, we are doing all we can to keep our staff, partners and supporters safe while preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ve closed our physical offices in Washington, D.C., and Anchorage, Alaska, canceled all work-related travel and in-person meetings, rescheduled some events and are making others virtual experiences. Front of mind for us is the fact that many of our Indigenous partners who were scheduled to join us for upcoming meetings and events live in remote villages in Alaska and Canada where access to health care may be limited and an outbreak of the virus could be especially difficult to contain.
Our Indigenous allies often teach us through their own actions, how important it is to care for our elders and the well-being of the broader community. This rings especially true now when our need for the entire country to come together for the greater good has rarely been more critical.
As we all do our part to practice social distancing, it’s notable that our public lands and open spaces can provide a needed respite for so many to more safely recreate, re-charge and find some inner peace—understanding that we must do so responsibly, avoiding visitor centers and other public buildings where possible. And while Alaska’s spectacular wild places may not be accessible to you, perhaps you’ll be reminded of them when you see one of the 470 species of migratory birds that fly through every state as they return to the far north this spring.
Unfortunately, even as so much of normal life has ground to a halt, the threats to these birds and to Alaska’s other iconic wildlife and wild places have not. In recent days, we have learned that the administration is proceeding with all oil and gas leasing activities including its efforts to advance drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
We will remain vigilant and keep you well informed about your opportunities to advocate, engage and defend the Arctic Refuge and other cherished public lands and waters in Alaska in coming days and weeks.
P.S. — In the meantime, please enjoy these examples of polar bears on the Arctic Refuge coastal plain practicing their own “social distancing!”