Feb 6, 2014

Alaska & beyond: AlaskaWild Update - Three victories and snowy owls!

From: Hilary Stamper, Alaska Wilderness League <action@alaskawild.org>
Date: Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 12:36 PM
Subject: AlaskaWild Update - Three victories and snowy owls!

Alaska Wild Update

Dear Liz,

Right now, it seems like the central and eastern U.S. have all the action. Snow, sub-freezing temperatures and even snowy owls descending from the Arctic. Meanwhile, over in California where I'm writing from, we can barely squeeze a raindrop from the sky and I've resorted to leaving little bowls of water around the backyard to help our local wildlife. But as you'll see below, we at the League are making immense strides protecting the wild lands and waters in Alaska that help mitigate a climate crisis like we're seeing now in California with catastrophic drought.

More than ever, we need the Arctic Ocean – our planet's air conditioner – in tip top condition so the jetstream stays on track (learn how it works here), and our nation's carbon-storing forests (the two largest national forests are in Alaska) intact. That means we'll need your voices to push our nation's leaders to make the right choices for America's vast public lands and waters in Alaska. We're off to a great start – check out the victories below and thank you in advance for your help!

Wildly yours,

Hilary Stamper
New Media Director

Progress for Alaska:
Shell out of the Arctic Ocean for 2014!

Thanks to pressure from folks like you and hard work by the League's team and others, Shell announced that it will pull out of the Arctic Ocean for 2014. Scott Martelle, an editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Shell's decision to give up on Arctic Ocean oil drilling for 2014 is good news for the environment. Now if only the oil companies — and the Obama administration — would give up altogether on the idea of drilling in such a remote and harsh place."

This victory came on the heels of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in late January, in a case brought by the League and our partners, that the Department of the Interior violated the law when it sold offshore oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea. The agency must now revise its analysis, disclose the full potential impacts of oil development in this fragile but dangerous environment, and reassess whether to allow oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea where Shell wants to drill.

Bristol Bay Victory!

The Environmental Protection Agency has finally issued its report on the proposed Pebble Mine, and its conclusion is as crystal clear as the waters of the Bristol Bay watershed: A large-scale gold and copper mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay region would devastate the world's largest salmon fisheries.

What You Can Do: Thank Secretary Jewell for Protecting Izembek Refuge

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently upheld a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to reject a proposed road through federally designated Wilderness in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Congress designated Izembek as Wilderness more than three decades ago to conserve important habitat for fish, migratory birds such as the Pacific black brant, brown bears, salmon and other wildlife.

This decision is critical for America's public lands. Had Sec. Jewell allowed the road to be built, it would have set a dangerous precedent for stripping protections from other designated Wilderness areas in Alaska and across the country. Help us show Sec. Jewell that we are paying attention and applaud her decision. Sign our thank you note!

Notes From the Field: Snowy Owls Descend

Every few years, depending on prey availability in the Arctic, snowy owls, some of which hatch in the Arctic Refuge, spread their wings and head south for the winter (the phenomenon is called an 'irruption'). This year, however, could be the largest irruption we see in our lifetime! While the cause of the irruption is unknown, it serves as a reminder that birds you might see in your backyard depend on important habitat somewhere else – even as far away as Alaska!

After a recent snowy owl sighting in Minneapolis, our very own Lois Norrgard's letter to the editor was chosen as the letter of the day in her local newspaper. If you've experienced a sighting yourself, or have seen an article printed in your local paper, you can help us make the connection between these amazing creatures and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by submitting your own letter (download a sample). Just check out the paper's submission guidelines, and read the letters that have been published so far!

Dispatches from the Last Frontier: Dan Kirkwood

The League is excited to introduce Dan Kirkwood, our new Southeast Alaska Outreach Coordinator. He will continue the League's work with guides and outfitters that support a sustainable Tongass National Forest.

Dan worked as a tour guide and deckhand with Allen Marine Tours and has done outreach with the U.S. Forest Service wilderness rangers in Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm in southeast Alaska. In his new role with the League, Dan will advocate for maintaining and strengthening the tourism economy of the Tongass by protecting the places that tourists love to visit.

Snowy Owl Feature! 

Click here to watch adorable footage from PBS on the lives of a snowy owl pair and their babies in the Arctic. The babies in the video even attempt to "row" across a stream like little Olympic swimmers doing the butterfly stroke! And, you might notice this fun fact: unlike most owls, snowy owls are diurnal – they hunt and are active both day and night.
February 2014
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Snowy Owl and Chick © Florian Schulz

Fun Fact:

Only male snowy owls are completely white. Chicks are dark and spotted, while the females are white with more bars on their wings.

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