Overview of Refuge Purposes

The Arctic Refuge is managed for all Americans by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal agency within the Department of the Interior.


The original 'Arctic National Wildlife Range' was established in 1960 by Public Land Order 2214 (73 KB PDF) "For the purpose of preserving unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values..."

In 1980 the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) re-designated the Range as part of the larger Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, designated much of the original Range as wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act, and provided four purposes that guide management of the entire Refuge.

The ANILCA purposes are:

    (i) to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity;

    (ii) to fulfill the international fish and wildlife treaty obligations of the United States;

    (iii) to provide the opportunity for continued subsistence uses by local residents; and

    (iv) to ensure water quality and necessary water quantity within the refuge. 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 added the following purpose:

    (v) to provide for an oil and gas program on the Coastal Plain.