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Today, the Obama Administration moved to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, releasing a conservation plan and calling on Congress to designate core areas of the refuge – including its Coastal Plain – as wilderness, the highest level of protection available to public lands. The 19.8 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is widely considered one of the most spectacular and remote areas in the world. It is home to the most diverse wildlife in the arctic, from caribou and polar bears  to gray wolves and muskoxen. Lagoons, beaches, saltmarshes, tundra and forests make up the remote and undisturbed wild area that spans five distinct ecological regions, and the refuge holds special meaning to Alaska Natives – having sustained their lives and culture for thousands of years. Learn more at www.DOI.gov. Top photo: Mother and polar bear cub at Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Middle photo: Moonrise over the Brooks Range. Bottom photo: Northern Lights dance above the refuge.

The human history of Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve stretches back more than 10,000 years. The earliest people to settle the Brooks Range were among the first to cross the Bering Land Bridge from Asia in a series migrations that eventually populated the Americas. Archeological sites show that ancestors of Inupiaq and Athabascan peoples hunted caribou, moose, and sheep; trapped and snared small game; pulled fish from lakes and streams; and used the area’s other natural resources to survive in a difficult environment. Today, descendents of these early hunters and gatherers live in and around the park, where they continue traditional subsistence activities while also adapting to the demands of modern life.

Photo: National Park Service