In the heart of the Gates of the Arctic National Park, Chris meditates on the importance of our national park system.
Chris: “Gates of the Arctic National Park is an unknown jewel in the North American park system. I knew very little about it before our work on Bears of the Last Frontier began, but it quickly stole my heart. It is a combination of vast rolling tundra, and massive jagged peaks that feed thousands of tiny creeks and dozens of mighty rivers. The bush plane flight that brought us here from the tiny town of Bettles was undoubtedly the most dramatic flight I have ever been on. The park lies in the heart of the vast Brooks Range – the northernmost major mountain chain in the world. The park is giant – over 13,000 square miles (about the size of Switzerland), and was established with great foresight in 1980. It is a park with truly Alaskan wilderness at its heart, with no established roads, trails, visitor facilities, or campgrounds.
In contrast, many areas in Alaska do NOT enjoy the same level of protection as its National Parks. The National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska is one example. It is a chunk of land the size of ten Yellowstones, yet most people have never heard of it, and its future as an untouched wilderness hangs in the balance due to the fact that nearly three trillion tons of coal and huge quantities of oil lie beneath its surface.”
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