Alaska Natives who rely on caribou for their livelihoods set up in the state's largest city to protest against US federal plans for the development of petroleum in a wilderness area.
Environmental groups and other opponents were expected at a meeting of the Bureau of Land Management in Anchorage on Monday. The agency was planning to discuss a preliminary environmental evaluation on drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In December 2017, the Congress approved a tax invoice requiring a lease of oil and gas in the refuge to generate income for a tax cut supported by President Donald Trump.
Critics say that opening the shelter should have been in legislation where the merits of development versus wilderness were discussed. They spot the tax law forecasts that lease purchases put more than $ 1 billion into the federal treasury for 10 years.
Opponents also say that the development will create a spider web of roads and pipelines that connect bores with each other, thus affecting many more areas in the wilderness.
The coastal plain is the nursery for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, named after the Porcupine River. The 200,000 animal herd migrates from Canada to a strip of flat tundra in the northeastern corner of Alaska between Brooks Range mountains and the Arctic Ocean. Gwich & # 39; in Natives in Alaska and Canada depend on the hunt for the caribou for their livelihood.
Caribou from the Porcupine Caribou Herd migrate to the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska. The coastal plain is the nursery for the herd. (American Fish and Wildlife Service / Associated Press)
Bernadette Demientieff, director of the Gwich & Steering Group, said that the future of her people and the future of the caribou are one and the same.
"The Gwich & # 39; in have a cultural and spiritual connection with the Porcupine caribou," Demientieff said in a statement. "Our Elders and our traditional knowledge tell us that taking care of the land keeps the caribou healthy and that the caribou keep their people healthy."
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1960 during the reign of President Dwight Eisenhower. The Congress in 1980 extended the resort to nearly the size of South Carolina with the provision that 5,957 square kilometers of the coastal plain be studied for natural resources.
The American Geological Survey estimates that the plains contain 10.4 billion barrels of oil.