KTVA (CBS): Alaska Delegation Opposes Add'l Wilderness Review of ANWR

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The Alaska delegation, made up of Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich along with Rep. Don Young today submitted a joint letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar opposing Fish and Wildlife's proposal which would include a wilderness review of ANWR.

While the delegates unanimously favor an update to the 22-year-old plan, they firmly object to any further wilderness reviews.

"Under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), nearly half of ANWR has already been disignated wilderness," the letter reads.

Alaska has the largest amount of protected lands and leads the nation in the number of wilderness designations.

The coastal plain of the refuge known as the 1002 area, was not designated as wilderness, a move that the delegation says leaves the space open for potential oil and gas development.

Because only Congress can decide the fate of the 1002 area, Murkowski, Begich and Young insist it doesn't make sense to spend time, taxpayer money and resources on an "issue the plan won't decide."

Together they urge Salazar to remove the wilderness review from the CCP revision in an effort to focus on issues such as increased visitors and changing habitat conditions.

According to their letter, "The Fish and Wildlife Service's limited financial resources- and taxpayer unproductive exercise."

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Source: Originally published May 04, 2010