Another photo from the Brooks Range, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Back in September the US F&WS (Fish and Wildlife Service) announced, as part of their Comprehensive Conservation Plan, that “the Service will conduct wilderness reviews for three Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) for potential inclusion within the National Wilderness Preservation System. These three WSAs encompass almost all refuge lands not currently designated as wilderness”. This is good news. I’ll reiterate my favorite part of the quote: “These three WSAs encompass almost all refuge lands not currently designated as wilderness“.
There are numerous steps involved, and, if recommended by the US F&WS, approval is required by the Dept Director, the Secretary of the Interior, and the President. Then, the final decision lies with the US Congress; the actual authority to designate land as ‘wilderness’.
It’s almost comical, really; such a rigorous and formalized process to meander through in order to deem lands “wild”. Implicit in the word wild is ‘free will’ – yet not quite so wild as to be free of the rigmarole of official procedure, of course.
Anyone who suggests the 19 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge isn’t a wilderness either hasn’t been there or is simply in denial. Perhaps I could say it more clearly this way; if the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge doesn’t qualify for ‘wilderness designation’, then we might as well remove that term from our vocabulary. Surely there is no place more deserving of such designation than the Refuge?
The “wilderness reviews” should be completed by Feb 2011, which will be followed by a released draft, more public comment, more revisions, and hopefully, a final plan and recommendation in May 2012. Apparently wilderness takes careful planning and review; it’s not simply created overnight.
A reminder that Dec 06, 2010, marks the coming anniversary of the establishment of the Refuge; I’m working on a little project for it, and should have it online soon. Stand warned.