Wildwood Outfitters Blog and Fishing Report
Few truly wild places remain untouched or spoiled by the hands of humans and industry; places where it feels as though people don't belong, and those that choose to visit are mere guests in a harsh landscape. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) emanates that, and much more, on the northerly fringe of the world.
This unforgiving land, oozing with grandeur, is home to some of the Arctic's most iconic animals. Bears of both the polar and grizzly variety, caribou numbering 200,000+, and artic char call the ANWR home. These animals, along with countless others, are under constant attack from the outside world. Over the last 40 years some lawmakers in Washington have fought to open up this pristine wilderness to oil and gas drilling. On more than 50 different occasions these efforts had failed, until recently.
The saying goes, "all is fair in love and war," though it should probably be amended to include politics. In a recent tax bill, access for drilling in the ANWF was slipped into the larger legislation, a strategy often used by politicians on either side of the aisle. What it meant was that while debate raged over tax cuts, healthcare, and other mainstay issues in the political landscape, oil and gas privileges in the Arctic were largely forgotten.
In response to this sudden turn of events, a group of folks from the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) decided to step in and show the world what's at stake. This summer they sent a team of talented photographers up to the "Last Frontier" to document this expansive, wild land. Their goal was to bring the value of the ANWR to the masses and to see why it needs preserved and protected.
For outdoors folks, the ANWR is a bastion of opportunity. Arctic char and dolly varden teem in the waters and one of the world's largest caribou herds traverse the harsh tundra slicing through the mountains. Limited access and rugged terrain has allowed the wildlife here to remain uninterrupted by the advances of human encroachment until this newest threat. There comes a time when everyone must decide what it's important, and where loyalties and priorities lie; and for the photographers and advocates fighting to protect this land on the periphery of civilization, that time is now.
Check out more of Pat Clayton's photography and conservation work here!