Why the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

America’s largest wildlife refuge is under pressure from oil companies that want to drill for oil in the crown jewel of our national refuge system.

This 19-million-acre refuge in Alaska’s Arctic is home to bears, wolves, caribou, musk oxen and other species. It is also a critical source of food for Gwich’in and Iñupiat communities that have deep connections to the land and depend on it to feed their communities and sustain their way of life.

The Wilderness Society has fought alongside Alaska Native communities for decades to protect this special place from oil development, especially the coastal plain that is the biological heart of the refuge.

Protecting the Arctic Refuge

The Arctic Refuge is one of the finest examples of wilderness left on Earth and among the least affected by human activity. It is a wild landscape that is timeless and irreplaceable.

Although for decades the refuge was managed to maintain its natural condition, oil companies and elected officials in Washington, D.C., have fought for more than 20 years to open the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling. The coastal plain was opened to oil and gas leasing by a provision in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Wilderness Society is committed to ensuring that drill rigs never touch ground within the Arctic Refuge and that, eventually, the entire refuge will be permanently protected.