Biden Finalizes Strengthened Conservation Protections for America’s Arctic


April 19, 2024 

Contact: Anja Semanco | 

Biden Finalizes Strengthened Conservation Protections for America’s Arctic 
13 million acres of Special Areas receive expanded protections 

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Biden administration released a final regulation to provide lasting protections for nearly 13 million acres of Special Areas in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (Western Arctic). This important conservation regulation recognizes the critical importance of the communities, ecosystems, and climate solutions that America’s Arctic supports. Today’s announcement is an important step in President Biden’s growing climate legacy, creating durable Arctic protections at a sweeping landscape level and setting the stage for more.   

“The Biden administration’s actions for America’s Arctic shows a commitment to conservation that meets the needs of the region’s outsized vastness and ecological value. Our nation’s public lands are an essential part of addressing the climate and biodiversity crisis, and this decision could not come at a more critical time,” said Kristen Miller, executive director at Alaska Wilderness League. “Under this rule, the Western Arctic’s Special Areas will start to receive the protections they deserve for the sake of local communities, the region’s biodiversity, and our global climate.”  

The Western Arctic is our nation’s largest single unit of public land. Spanning nearly 23 million acres, this area has long been recognized for its extraordinary biodiversity, cultural and subsistence values, recreation opportunities, and more. To better protect these lands over time, five designated Special Areas were created — a collection of lands that contain critical ecosystems unlike anywhere else on earth, that serve as havens of global climate solutions and local resiliency. 

Today’s finalized regulations provide increased protections for 13 million acres of designated Special Areas and establish a much-needed process for creating new or expanding existing Special Areas within the Western Arctic. This is an essential step to create enduring protections needed in America’s Arctic to protect communities, biodiversity, and our global climate future. 

The good news didn’t stop there today for Alaska’s lands and waters. The Department of Interior also released a Final EIS for the Ambler Road project, identifying the NO ACTION alternative as preferred. This will reduce the threat to the caribou and other subsistence resources – as well as communities that rely on them – posed by this 211-mile industrial road and will protect amazing public lands like Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve. 

While the Ambler Road lies south of the Western Arctic, the same caribou herds impacted by sprawling industrialization across the Western Arctic are also benefiting from today’s Ambler Road decision. We are grateful for all of these actions by President Biden and are optimistic about more progress in the months to come. 


Photo: Florian Schulz