Alaska: Keeping it Wild, Then and Now

Alaska: Keeping it Wild, Then and Now

Ever since Dec. 2, 1980, when President Jimmy Carter signed the
act that protects 103 million acres in Alaska and left the coastal
plains of the refuge in limbo, activists have fought to keep
industry out of that pristine wilderness.

In the Sierra Club’s The Planet Newsletter Jack
Hession and Jenny Coyle recount the long history of activists’
efforts to preserve Alaska’s virgin lands, which have been
endangered since statehood in 1959. Back then, the new state
government opened up 104 million acres of public land to its
residents. ‘The ensuing fervor to claim land suitable for gold
mining, timber cutting, and oil and gas drilling was so intense
that some Native communities found stakes hammered through the
center of their villages,’ Hession and Coyle write. The federal
government had to step in and put a freeze on all public
lands.

Tracking the various activist groups and federal administrations
over the years, the authors note that with Clinton and Gore in the
White House, not much was in question, but Bush’s determination to
drill in Alaska means that activists once again must organize to
protect the land. See how you can help with the Sierra Club’s
mission.
–Sara V. Buckwitz
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