We all hear about how barren and ugly the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is. The coastal plain is a desolate wasteland, we’re told. Well, I don’t agree with that. I think it’s a beautiful place, and well worth our respect. Here is a field of Alaska Cotton Grass in full bloom along the coastal plain, east of the Canning River, in Section 1002, the section proposed to be opened for oil drilling. Trust me – the photos you see posted across websites and emails doing the rounds that suggest the place is ‘ugly’ are simply bad photos.
But the issue shouldn’t simply come down to aesthetic beauty – that’s in the eye of the beholder, as we all know, and also somewhat irrelevant. What is relevant is learning to once again respect the earth we live upon – and setting aside areas like the Refuge, protected from the ravages of oil and gas development and other extractive processes is, IMO, a good idea. In fact, I’d say it’s a critical one.
I’m heading out for a trip to Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, and won’t be back for a week, but will pre-post a few entries scheduled to appear over the coming week.