The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a draft of its new management plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Monday.
Expectations that the draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan would establish that the federal agency will formally consider Wilderness status for the Arctic Coastal Plain are not entirely accurate, according to Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Bruce Woods.
The plan was published in the federal register on Monday. The appearance opens up a period of public comment on the plan.
Woods says none of the seven alternatives has been selected yet. Congress must approve any decision on a final designation, he says.
Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska Regional Director for the Wilderness Society in Anchorage, says ANWR is the first of all the wildlife refuges in the state to receive a revised comprehensive conservation plan which includes wilderness reviews
Senator Mark Begich called the idea “a waste of time and money.” Senator Lisa Murkowski said the administration lacks authority to conduct wilderness reviews in Alaska without congressional approval.
The draft plan reviews the condition of the lands not currently designated as wilderness for suitability for a recommendation as future designated wilderness. Whittington Evans says the draft suggests that there is suitable wilderness in ANWR. The plan can be reviewed at the Fish and Wildlife Service’s website, arctic.fws.gov.
Public comment on the plan will be taken until November 15.
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