BLM to Halt Ambler Road Permit, Conserve 28 Million Acres of Alaska Public Lands

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s “voice for wild public lands, waters, and wildlife” – nonprofit advocacy group Backcountry Hunters & Anglers – applauded decisions announced today by the Bureau of Land Management that will ensure the conservation of valuable fish and wildlife habitat across myriad Alaskan landscapes, including the famed Brooks Range and previously protected lands. 

The announcement culminated in the BLM’s Record of Decision denying a permit for the construction of a private 211-mile-long Ambler Mining Road. This decision follows strong advocacy from the Hunters & Anglers for the Brooks Range – a coalition which includes BHA along with organizations and businesses representing hunters and anglers who cherish the vast public lands and waters of the southern Brooks Range. 

“While Alaska is a vast state with significant expanses of public lands, risky proposals like the Ambler Road cannot be justified,” said Mary Glaves, BHA’s Alaska chapter coordinator. “The Brooks Range is an iconic place for backcountry hunting and fishing experiences and has intrinsic value for just that reason. The Ambler Road simply poses too many risks and challenges for the landscape, economy, and local residents. We applaud the BLM for their decision to take no action and deny the Ambler Road permit, keeping this landscape intact,” 

The Ambler Road would have: greatly compromised the 110-mile-long Kobuk River, part of the National Wild and Scenic River System and home to world-class sheefish fishing; irreversible impacts on the declining Western Arctic Caribou Herd, which provides subsistence hunting opportunities for the Alaskan community; and, affected opportunities for hunters who travel from around the world to pursue these caribou while infusing dollars into local economies. 

However, the threat of the Ambler Road still looms over the Brooks Range, as earlier this month in a closed-door committee meeting Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) succeeded in attaching an amendment to the FY25 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would reverse the BLM’s decision. A final version of the bill has yet to be advanced by the Senate. Should this amendment persist, it would be the first time in a decade that non-defense related, anti-conservation policy was included in the NDAA.  

D-1 Lands & Future Development 

During the same announcement, the BLM shared their Final Environmental Impact Statement evaluating the conservation status of 28 million acres of Alaskan public lands known as “D-1” lands. These public lands have been withdrawn from mineral and energy development since the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971; however, in January of 2021, the outgoing Trump administration began the process of revoking those withdrawals. The “no action” alternative recently selected by the BLM would keep these lands withdrawn from development, maintaining the wild, expansive backcountry that is home to iconic wildlife species, and associated world-class hunting and fishing experiences. 

A map of Alaska’s D-1 Lands from the BLM

“Alaska’s D-1 lands represent some of the last intact ecosystems in North America,” said Cody Strathe, BHA Alaska chapter board member. “Continued conservation of these places simultaneously protects vital fish and wildlife habitat, Alaska’s growing recreation economy, which includes hunting and fishing, as well as rural subsistence lifestyle use. We thank the BLM for selecting a preferred alternative which ensures future generations can enjoy these wild public lands.” 

Were the conservation status of these D-1 lands to be revoked, more than 10% of all lands managed by the BLM could be opened to new industrial activity. The BLM’s decision means more than just a building permit has been denied – it means the continued conservation of these landscapes ensures intact pathways for migratory species like anadromous fish, caribou, and waterfowl, and the future enjoyment of those who rely on such species as a part of their way of life. 

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands, waters, and wildlife. 

https://www.backcountryhunters.org



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