Photo credit: Sierra Club
In every relationship, there comes a time when you need to take the next big step.
This December marks 50 years since President Dwight D. Eisenhower designated a beautiful and vast stretch of land in Alaska as the "Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." Since then we've fallen madly in love with the Refuge and its animals. Now it's time for a commitment.Yes, it's been 50 years since our country took that first step with this special place in Alaska.
Scientists consider the refuge's Coastal Plain to be its biological heart, because it provides a home for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, polar bears, grizzly bears, musk oxen, Dall sheep, wolves and wolverines.
It is the birth ground of more than 180 species of birds, and from this special place they make the journey to all 50 states and across six continents, before heading back to the Arctic, where the cycle of life begins again.
Those are just a few of the reasons we're in love with the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And we're not alone. Local communities, environmentalists, and political champions of all backgrounds have stood by President Eisenhower's defense of the refuge's "unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values" by uniting to stave off repeated attempts to open the area to oil and gas development.
And so, as we mark the 50th anniversary of the area's designation as a Wildlife Refuge, we must do everything we can to be sure that the refuge—one of America's last truly wild places—survives for generations to come.
It's time to make it official. It's time for a commitment. It's time for President Obama to permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by designating it as a National Monument.
Help us convince President Obama to make this commitment by hosting a 50th Anniversary Party for the Arctic Refuge. It's easy: Just sign up here, then invite your friends watch a free DVD we'll send entitled "The Refuge," a 10-minute film about our love for the Arctic.
Party-goers will also sign a special anniversary card to President Obama advising him to make our national refuge a national monument.
Need another reason to tell President Obama to make it official? Beyond its wildlife, the Arctic Refuge is also a sacred place to people.
For thousands of years, the Gwich'in Nation people have regarded the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge as "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins" because it has been the most frequently used birthing and nursery grounds for the migratory Porcupine Caribou Herd. This caribou herd is the foundation for the social, economic and spiritual fabric of the lives of the Gwich'in people.
We want this commitment because despite the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's sacred and critical importance, the oil industry has been trying to get access to the area for years. Oil drilling would destroy this last wild place forever.
The land, waters and wildlife of the Arctic Refuge are already under stress from the impacts of climate change, which are being felt in this region more than anywhere else on the planet. If we don't protect the Arctic now, we will lose a place that represents a connection to the natural world that has been lost across the rest of our nation.
President Eisenhower realized the importance and beauty of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 50 years ago and we should honor his vision by preserving the region's unique values for future generations.
President Obama must designate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a National Monument. It's been 50 years - let's make it official!
Read more about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:
Arctic Refuge Drilling Blocked in US Senate
Treasure America's Arctic Wildlife Refuge Video
Alaska's North Slope: Biggest Oil Spill Yet