As we celebrate the Arctic Refuge, we must also celebrate the many Arctic Heroes who have fought to protect the Arctic Refuge for our children and grandchildren. The list inside is not by any means an exhaustive list of Arctic Heroes, but a small sampling to reflect upon as we continue to celebrate the Refuge’s 50th anniversary.
Representative John B. Anderson
Representative John B. Anderson (R-IL) sponsored the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Secretary Cecil Andrus
Cecil Andrus was U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President Jimmy Carter. In this capacity he was one of the chief architects of ANILCA, through which he was able to preserve “the crown jewels of Alaska.”
Subhankar Banerjee spent 14 months in the Arctic Refuge documenting its beauty in a book of photographs called Seasons of Life and Land. The book was presented by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on the floor of the Senate to defend the Refuge.
Representative Charllie Bass
Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH) has been a champion in the fight to protect the Arctic Refuge, including circulating a letter to fellow Republicans in the House about the need to prevent drilling in the Arctic Refuge during a critical drilling threat in 2005. His letter gained the support of 23 of his Republican colleagues, successfully blocking Arctic drilling from inclusion in the House budget.
Luci Beach is the Executive Director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee in Alaska. Beach has acted as a voice for the Gwich’in people in their struggle to stop drilling in the Refuge.
Jack Biscoe was one of Maine’s most famous Arctic Refuge champions. He worked closely with Alaska Wilderness League for many years and helped create the Alaska Coalition of Maine.
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) successfully led the 2003 Senate floor battle to block oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2005, Boxer voted again to block oil drilling in the Refuge.
Senator Dale Bumpers
As ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee, Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AR) worked hard to protect the Refuge by preventing drilling legislation from passing through the committee.
Senator Robert Byrd
Time and again, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) defended the Arctic Refuge from threats on the Senate floor.
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has made protecting the Arctic Refuge a main focus of her career. She has been one of the most outspoken politicians in Congress in support of preserving the Refuge and working toward renewable energies.
Chuck Clusen has been advocating for Alaskan wilderness for over three decades and was founding chair of the Alaska Coalition, a group that led the effort to ensure Congress passed ANILCA.
Harry Crandell had a long career in wilderness issues including working for The Wilderness Society. He also directed the Special House Subcommittee on Alaska Lands under Chairman John Seiberling (D-OH).
Justice William O. Douglas
U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, often called the “Environmental Justice,” visited the Arctic Refuge camp of Olaus and Mardy Murie in 1956. He noted: “The beauty is in part the glory of seeing moose, caribou, and wolves living in a natural state, untouched by civilization.” His widow Cathy was a citizen leader for passage of ANILCA.
Senator John Durkin
Senator John Durkin (D-NH) championed the Alaska Lands bill in the Senate. He was chief sponsor of the Senate Arctic Refuge Wilderness bill from 1977-1978.
As an environmental pioneer, Polly Dyer is a role model for many Americans. For many decades she has continued to fight with passion and energy for wilderness protection for the Arctic Refuge.
Brock Evans served as the Vice President of the National Audubon Society National Issues division where he focused his work on the preservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Representative Thomas B. Evans
Representative Tom B. Evans (R-DE) championed the Alaska Lands bill in the House of Representatives and served for many years on Alaska Wilderness League’s board of directors.
Emily Ferry worked with the Alaska Coalition of Pennsylvania, Alaska Transportation Priorities Project and, with her sister Betsy, rode her bike across the country for the Arctic Refuge.
Richard Fineberg has been researching and reporting the issues of economic and environmental development in regards to Alaska and global petroleum development for many decades, consulting for both the public and private sector.
Originally from Alaska, Dee Frankfourth played a pivotal role with Peg Tileston and Chuck Clusen in the establishment of the Alaska Coalition, a group of organizations that came together to help pass ANILCA.
Born in Arctic Village, Alaska, Faith Gemmill has worked on behalf of the Gwich’in Nation as an advocate to keep the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge, the birthplace of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, free from oil and gas development. She currently serves as Executive Director for Resisting Environmental Destruction On Indigenous Lands (REDOIL).
Jack Hession, longtime Sierra Club leader in Alaska, has spent considerable time in the Refuge and worked tirelessly on many trips to Washington, DC to craft ANILCA and lobby for its passage.
Vicky Hoover is Sierra Club through and through. A longtime Sierra Club activist from California, Vicky keeps the Sierra Club Alaska Task Force active and effective.
Eleanor Huffines was The Wilderness Society’s Alaska Regional Director from 2002 to 2009. An accomplished Arctic wilderness trekker in her own right, she was also schooled in the ways of D.C. and was instrumental in successfully defending the Arctic Refuge from numerous efforts to drill the Refuge in the last decade.
Celia Hunter co-founded the Alaskan Conservation Foundation, and became the first woman leader of a national environmental organization – The Wilderness Society.
Sarah James, a member of the Gwich’in Nation, founded the Gwich’in Steering Committee, which opposes drilling in the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For the Gwich’in people the Coastal Plain is the “Sacred Place Where Life Begins.”
A member of Representative Morris “Mo” Udall’s (D-AZ) staff, Roy Jones was dispatched to staff Senator Paul Tsongas’ (D-MA) office during the Senate’s consideration of ANILCA in 1979-1980.
Eric Jorgensen, Managing Attorney for Earthjustice in Juneau, Alaska, has spent his career safeguarding the fragile habitat of the Arctic from oil and gas drilling.
Sally Kabisch dedicated herself to a career of conservation and worked in the Sierra Club’s Anchorage, Alaska office to help pass ANILCA.
Norma Kassi is a member of the Gwich’in Nation from Yukon Territory, Canada who received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2002 (with Arctic Heroes Sarah James and Jonathan Solomon) for efforts to protect the Arctic Refuge from oil exploration and drilling. Kassi chaired the Gwich’in Steering Committee for many years.
Roger Kaye is a Wilderness Specialist for USFWS and has been a pilot in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for over 20 years. Kaye has also contributed to many books including authoring Last Great Wilderness: The Campaign to Establish the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Steven Kazlowski is a photographer of Alaskan wildlife, and published a book, The Last Polar Bear, which highlighted how the environmental degradation in the Arctic Refuge is affecting wildlife.
Senator John F. Kerry
Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) is a steadfast Arctic Refuge champion who has threatened to filibuster any legislation in the Senate that attempts to open up the Arctic Refuge to drilling activities.
Lenny Kohm has logged many thousands of miles, usually with Gwich’in leaders from Canada or Alaska, to share a slideshow about the Arctic Refuge with colleges, rotary clubs, and other groups. Kohm inspired thousands of citizens to write letters to their congressional members during the 1990s. He has worked hand-in-hand with Glendon Brunk and Richard Dale.
Dr. H. Robert Krear
Dr. H. Robert Krear, a professor, wildlife biologist and World War II veteran has studied Arctic wildlife in-depth. He spent years working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, worked in eight national parks and taught biology at four universities. His Alaska research in 1956 with Olaus and Mardy Murie helped to establish the Arctic Refuge.
Senator Joseph Lieberman
Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) has been the chief sponsor of and advocate for Arctic Refuge Wilderness legislation since taking the baton from Senator Roth (R-DE) in 2001.
Chief Joe Linklater
Chief Joe Linklater is a Vuntut Gwich’in Chief, native to Old Crow, Yukon Territory, Canada. As one of the founding members of the Gwich’in Council International, Linklater has been an active lobbyist for the Arctic Refuge.
Bishop Mark MacDonald
Bishop Mark MacDonald, former Episcopal Bishop of Alaska, was influential in getting U.S. Council of Bishops and others in the faith community to support the human rights of the Gwich’in people.
Senator Warren Magnuson
In 1959, Senator Warren Magnuson (D-WA) introduced legislation to the U.S. Senate to establish the Arctic Range.
Representative Edward Markey
Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) is a strong proponent of protecting the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge. He has been the lead sponsor of the Wilderness Bill since 1995.
Bob Marshall wrote Arctic Village, a book that chronicled the lives of the Alaska Native people living in the Koyukuk River area around the town of Wiseman, Alaska and introduced the idea of setting aside a large land area as an Arctic preserve.
Mike Matz founded Alaska Wilderness League in 1993 after spending years defending the Refuge while working for the Northern Alaska Environmental Center and the Sierra Club.
Fran Mauer is a wildlife biologist who has spoken out about the wonderful wilderness values of the Arctic Refuge. From 1976 to 1980, he worked as staff biologist for USFWS on the proposed ANILCA. After 21 years as the wildlife biologist on staff for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he retired in 2002.
John McComb has spent his entire career working toward environmental conservation and was heavily involved in the passage of ANILCA, which expanded the Refuge.
Sean McGuire, from Fairbanks, Alaska, walked across the U.S. from the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in Florida. During his trek he worked with Alaska coalitions across the U.S. to advocate for the protection of the Refuge.
Debbie S. Miller
Debbie Miller is a founder of Alaska Wilderness League and an author, teacher and Arctic conservationist. She has fought tirelessly on the behalf of the Refuge.
Pamela A. Miller
Pamela A. Miller is the Arctic Program Director for Northern Alaska Environmental Center and has spent almost her entire career advocating for the Refuge. She has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and served as Chair of the Alaska Coalition in Washington, DC.
Representative Bob Mrazek
Former Representative Bob Mrazek (D-NY) became a champion for Alaska through the influence of his children. He was the original board chair of Alaska Wilderness League and continues to serve as Board Chair Emeritus.
Mardy and Olaus Murie
Mardy and Olaus Murie were the first to pioneer and advocate for the Arctic Refuge. Mardy was the “grandmother of the conservation movement” and with Olaus laid the framework for the Wilderness Act.
Brian O’Donnell, one of the first executive directors of Alaska Wilderness League, was responsible for creating a strong Refuge program that led the conservation community to defeat Arctic drilling proposals in the 1990s, which led to President Bill Clinton vetoing the budget bill in 1995.
Lorraine Peter is a director for the Gwich’in Council International and has acted as a member of the Legislative Assembly for the Vuntut Gwich’in people. Lorraine has made numerous trips to Washington, DC to advocate for protecting the Arctic Refuge.
Bill Reffalt is the former refuge administrator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and former refuge specialist for The Wilderness Society and is a strong proponent for protecting the Refuge.
David Rockefeller is an environmental philanthropist who works as an advisor to the Alaska Conservation Foundation and was founder of the Alaska Fund for the Future, which works to protect Alaskan natural lands and cultures.
Larry Rockefeller was an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and has held many other positions that promote responsible environmental policymaking. Rockefeller created and recruited people to join “Americans for Alaska” – an organization of influential people from across the country lending their names and time to the Refuge.
Theodore Roosevelt IV
Ted Roosevelt IV serves on the boards of many conservation organizations and was active in “Americans for Alaska.” He is a tireless advocate for the Refuge.
Senator Bill Roth
Senator Bill Roth (R-DE) introduced and championed legislation that would permanently protect the 125-mile section of the Alaska coastline as wilderness.
Rabbi David Saperstein
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, views drilling in the Arctic Refuge as a violation of Gwich’in rights and an unnecessary destruction of wilderness.
George Schaller is an inexhaustible and devout conservationist and scientist who traveled with Olaus and Margaret Murie, and who helped to initially establish the Arctic Range.
Peter Scholes was the first full-time paid employee at the Alaska Center for the Environment and also served as The Wilderness Society Alaska representative. He helped organize hearings in Alaska and came to DC to work toward passage of ANILCA.
Florian Schulz, an award-winning wilderness photographer from Germany, travels the world to present his photographs and personal testimony about the amazing Arctic landscape and to convey the importance of preserving one of the last natural landscapes in North America.
Doug Scott, while at the Sierra Club, led and inspired the national conservation community’s efforts to pass ANILCA. He also served as a Washington, DC lobbyist for The Wilderness Society, and currently works at the Campaign for America’s Wilderness of the Pew Environmental Group as their manager of policy and research.
Representative John Seiberling
Representative John Seiberling (D-OH) chaired the Alaska Lands Subcommittee and played an integral role in the passage of the 1980 Alaska Lands Act that doubled the size of America’s national parks.
Stan Senner worked as staff for the House Merchant Marine Committee and helped shepherd passage of ANILCA. Former Director of Audubon, Alaska Stan advocated for the protection of the Refuge and fought every effort to open the Coastal Plain to development.
Cindy Shogan has fought Arctic Refuge drilling while at the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and most recently Alaska Wilderness League for the last 12 years.
Stan Sloss knows ANILCA inside and out from his work on the House Interior Committee during the Alaska Lands Act battle. He now shares his Alaska knowledge with another Arctic hero as staff to Senator Mark Udall (D-CO).
Jonathan Solomon, Gwich’in Chief, leader and activist, fought against the drilling and exploration for oil in the Refuge and for the rights of the Gwich’in people for many decades. He played a key role in bringing the issue to the international stage.
Lowell Sumner was a biologist who saw the Arctic as the last place where freedom truly exists and is considered one of the creators of the Arctic Refuge.
Terry Tempest Williams
Terry Tempest Williams is a conservationist and author of several works about the Arctic Refuge, including The Open Space of Democracy, which describes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and what it can do to open minds and souls.
Jane and Robert Thompson
Jane and Robert Thompson, who call Kaktovik, Alaska home, have been involved with the Arctic Refuge since the late 1970s. Both have travelled to Washington, DC numerous times to advocate for the Refuge. Robert Thompson bravely organized a petition of Kaktovik residents opposed to oil development in the Refuge.
Sheila Tooze, former environmental representative at the Canadian Embassy, has helped generations of Gwich’in in their struggle to protect the Coastal Plain of the Refuge, where the Porcupine Caribou Herd migrates to calve.
Senator Paul Tsongas
Senator Paul Tsongas (D-MA) had the vision and the skill to pass the landmark Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. He introduced the bill in 1979, after having served only two weeks in the Senate.
Representative Morris “Mo” Udall
Representative Morris “Mo” Udall (D-AZ) was the first to introduce the Arctic Wilderness bill. All subsequent Arctic Wilderness bills in the U.S. House of Representatives have been named after this
Secretary Stewart “Stu” Udall
Stewart “Stu” Udall served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and played a key role in the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, which created the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Representative Bruce Vento
Representative Bruce Vento (D-MN) worked to have the Coastal Plain in the Arctic Refuge declared wilderness and helped to get more than 300 bills passed in the U.S. Congress that protected America’s natural resources.
Kay Wallis, Gwich’in elder and former Alaska state legislator, quietly and determinedly speaks for protecting the sacred Coastal Plain of the Refuge.
Jon Waterman, author of Where Mountains Are Nameless – Passion and Politics in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge uses his images and words to inspire people to take action to protect the Refuge.
Dr. Edgar Wayburn
Dr. Edgar Wayburn passed away in 2010 at the age of 103. This quiet conservationist is credited with saving more than 100 million acres of land in California and Alaska and worked for the passage of the Alaska Lands bill.
Peggy Wayburn fell in love with Alaska on her first trip to the state in 1967. She spent years advocating to protect Alaska’s wild lands, including authoring several books, and her efforts helped pass the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, which preserved over 100 million acres of wilderness, national parks, and national wildlife refuges.
Senator Paul Wellstone
Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) worked to have the Coastal Plain in the Arctic Refuge declared wilderness and helped lead the charge on the Senate floor that defeated an Arctic drilling amendment.
Ken Whitten has worked as a biologist in the Arctic Refuge. His image of the Porcupine Caribou migration has become the iconic poster for this iconic place.
Deborah Williams has been involved in conservation work for over 25 years. She served as special assistant for Alaska to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt in the 1990s where she was intimately involved in administrative decisions affecting the Arctic.
Senator Tim Wirth
Senator Tim Wirth (D-CO) defended the Refuge as a member of the Senate Energy Committee in the 1980s and 1990s. His efforts were key to stopping the Arctic drilling bill on the Senate floor in 1991.
After first seeing Alaska from the cockpit of a war-surplus airplane from Seattle to Fairbanks in 1947, Ginny Wood fell in love with the state’s wilderness and has become one of the state’s most dedicated conservationists. Along with Celia Hunter, Ginny started the Alaska Conservation Society in 1960 to influence environmental policy by Alaskans in Alaska.
Steve Young was a National Audubon Society staffer who came to Washington, DC to lead the lobbying effort to pass ANILCA; he was also one of the founders of the Alaska Coalition.