Development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in Alaska's western Arctic has begun, multiple drilling projects are on the horizon, and industry has shifted its focus to gaining access to protected "Special Areas" including the sensitive wildlife habitat surrounding Teshekpuk Lake.
The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska — or Reserve — is the largest single unit of public lands in the nation, spanning nearly 23 million acres across Alaska's western North Slope.
The Reserve includes some of our nation’s most vital natural resources — millions of acres of wilderness-quality lands with critical habitat for migratory birds, brown bears, caribou, threatened polar bears, walrus, endangered beluga whales and more. The Alaska Native communities that live in and around the Reserve have maintained a subsistence lifestyle for thousands of years based on its living resources.
Birds from all four flyways in North America, plus several international flyways, migrate to the Reserve every year to raise their young. Tundra swans from the Atlantic Flyway, white-fronted geese from the Mississippi Flyway, pintails from the Central Flyway, and Pacific black brant from the Pacific Flyway converge on this summer destination, just to name a few. Even shorebirds from as far away as Hawaii and New Zealand find their way north to the Reserve.
Five Special Areas of exceptional wildlife value have been are set aside for protection within the Reserve. Learn more with the map above, and be sure to click through from the pop-ups to get more detailed information about each special place.