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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. 

Section 1002 of ANILCA required that studies be performed to provide information to Congress. These mandated studies included a comprehensive inventory and assessment of fish and wildlife resources, an analysis of potential impacts of oil and gas exploration and development on those resources, and a delineation of the extent and amount of potential petroleum resources. Because this Congressionally designated part of the Refuge coastal plain was addressed in Section 1002 of ANILCA, it is now referred to as the "1002 Area."

Also referring to this area of the coastal plain, Congress declared in Section 1003 of ANILCA that the "production of oil and gas from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is prohibited and no leasing or other development leading to production of oil and gas from the [Refuge] shall be undertaken until authorized by an act of Congress." 

Page Photo Credits — All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted.
Last Updated: Oct 15, 2012
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