Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 50 years

In 2010 we begin celebrating a milestone in American conservation history, the establishment of a landmark wilderness – the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
(Listen to the 2005 podcast with Ted Kennedy Jr and Hillary Clinton here)
What does the Arctic Refuge represent?

The arctic rally of 2005

Fighting for the refuge

Tucked into a remote corner of Alaska, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known by many as ANWR or Arctic Refuge, is a place where the American frontier can be experienced on an epic scale. It is best known for wildness, undisturbed wildlife and ecological processes; unique recreational and scientific opportunities; and the fact these are preserved for future generations. Yet while thousands of people have found adventure, solitude and reflection while visiting, millions more find inspiration in knowing that this unique piece of America can exist unspoiled in today’s world. As the founders had hoped, the Arctic Refuge has become a symbolic landscape, unprecedented not only in its size, but in the range of values its preservation reflects and perpetuates.

Why was the Arctic Refuge established?

The story of the Arctic Refuge begins more than a half-century ago with a group of people concerned with loss of wild places to development; the spread of pollution and pesticides; and the awesome power and destructive potential of the atomic bomb. In the 1950s these visionary conservationists, led by Olaus and Margaret Murie, launched a seven-year, hard-fought campaign to establish the Nation’s first ecosystem-scale conservation area. On December 6, 1960 the Arctic Refuge was established for the purpose of “preserving unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values.”

What should we celebrate?

The establishment of the Arctic Refuge was a milestone in American conservation history. Today it is the one National Wildlife Refuge that is a household name, yet the Arctic Refuge is not well understood by the public. Over the past fifty years this place has expanded the notion of what a National Wildlife Refuge can be and the range of values the National Wildlife Refuge System holds. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this momentous achievement, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is working with a network of partners to increase understanding and appreciation of the special values the Arctic Refuge provides and the importance of National Wildlife Refuges everywhere. Read more



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