ANWR, as it is commonly known, is a critical habitat for a tremendous amount of wildlife. It is located between the Arctic Ocean to the north and the foothills of Alaska's towering mountains to the south. The wildlife in this unique region is unequaled. Millions of birds from as far away as Antarctica migrate here. The polar bear have an important denning habitat in this region. And the Porcupine Caribou herd, numbering 152,000, use the coastal plain as a critical calving area. The annual gathering of this herd reminds one of Africa's Serengeti plain!
The region is one of the last great untouched areas of the Arctic. Under President Carter's administration, ANWR was set aside as a refuge to be protected. But, as in many critical regions of the world, there is great pressure to open the extensive oil and gas reserves believed to be locked within the earth there. Recently, several members of the U.S. Congress have pledged that they intend to make a strong effort to open part of ANWR to oil drilling.
ANWR challenges each of us to think about the kind of world in which we would like to live. It becomes a test of finding the balance between our increasing consumption of resources and our growing recognition of the need for protection of regions of the world which cannot be replaced.