We asked our activists to tell us about their passion for protecting Alaska’s wild places. The most frequent words and themes in these stories – beauty, Earth, future, protect – alluded to a grand reverence for the timelessness of nature’s creation and the need for its preservation.
Below is a sampling of the inspiring stories we’ve received from around the country. We’d love to hear from you, too. Click here to share your story with us.
- I am a retired Merchant Marine officer who worked on oil tankers for many years. I have witnessed firsthand the devastation and destruction caused by oil companies and the U.S. government when left to their own devices in the world’s oceans. Illegal discharging of ‘slop’ oils into the seas was common practice (you’d lose your job if you didn’t do it) and still is to a certain extent today. The destruction of our environment by corporations, with government head-nodding approval, has been boundless and well documented. I have seen this in my 66 years of living in this country. As I get older I find my love for all wildlife and all of our wonderful wild places grows deeper and deeper. We must not lose these things; we must shepherd them properly. This is our responsibility to all life on this little planet.
– Paul P., Massachusetts
- I am a Professor at a business school who understands both the economic value of oil and the need to preserve national treasures. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge deserves permanent protection. The arguments for allowing drilling there are simply not compelling economically, nor do they reflect responsible environmental management. It’s bad enough that flawed, short-term decision-making has saddled our future generations with debt; it would be worse if that same flawed, short-term decision-making deprived them of one of the greatest natural ecosystems in the world.
– Leonard G., New Hampshire
- I am a secretary in a Manhattan financial firm. As a secretary in the ‘concrete jungle’, I would like to know that we are striving to save habitats for all wildlife. I’d like to know that my future grandchildren can learn about animals in the present tense and not in museums housing stuffed replicas of extinct species.
– Lorraine S., New York
- I am a pediatric chaplain at a large hospital. The places I go to restore my soul and my hope are the wild and peaceful places. They are better than medicine for my heart’s sorrow. We need to keep these wild places WILD and pristine. Please let the Alaska wilderness remain wild. Thank you.
– Nan S., Minnesota
- I am a single father of two young boys and an avid outdoorsman. I care about protecting wild Alaska because of my children and their endless questions about our planet, our country and all of the treasures it holds. I want all of Alaska’s natural resources and wildlife protected for my boys’ benefit; as well as all future generations to discover.
– Kenneth D., Pennsylvania
- I am a lifelong Alaskan, retired Anchorage Firefighter, now living in a small Haida village. It is time to leave a legacy of wilderness for others to enjoy and to live from.
– Michael Q., Alaska
- I am a student of landscape architecture who looks for the full depth of meanings we place on the land. It saddens and angers me to see a landscape rich with cultural importance and crucial habitat pared down to the oil beneath the soil. Let’s focus our collective human brilliance (and money) on developing alternative energy sources now instead of putting it off until later and damaging an irreplaceable landscape in the process.
– Stephanie N., Iowa
- I’ve been a registered Republican since 1979, and I support the protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because, as a member of Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP), I know that conservation is conservative. But don’t take my word for it; after all, it was President Eisenhower, a Republican, who established the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And I still like Ike.
– Jonathan M., Pennsylvania
- I am a retired FAA Radar technician. I first came to Alaska in 1957 when the company I was working for sent me on a one-year asignment. I really didn’t want to come, but I let them talk me into it with a promotion and financial incentives. Before that year was over, I decided that “Alaska is the place for me,” as I told my mother in a letter she saved and reminded me of later. I liked it the way it was when I got here, and I’d like to keep it as close to that – wild, natural, and unspoiled – as I can.
– Gerald B., Alaska
- I am a former employee of the US Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago. I worked there as an environmental engineer in the Water Management Division for over 30 years. I want to keep Alaska wild because it is important to preserve the remaining wild areas for future generations. We cannot let anyone, government or otherwise, harm the wild areas of Alaska. We must educate people, especially the young, about these wild areas so that they can appreciate what they have and learn to treat these areas with the respect they deserve.
– Ernesto L., Illinois
- I am a filmmaker who doesn’t want to trade priceless wilderness for dollars. One hundred percent of the carbon locked deep beneath the Arctic tundra and the northern Arctic seas will become an oil spill after it has been sucked from the earth. It is time rethink our collective relationship to the land. We need to stop asking the wrong questions. They can only lead to the wrong answers.
– Richard K., New Hampshire
- I am Aqugaq, an Inupiaq from Tikigaq (Point Hope, Alaska). Tikigaq is one of the oldest known whale hunting society and a society that still has clans and rituals that are followed from season to season. The importance of our festivities from season to season revolved around the whale and with the oil and mining industries inside our doors already threatening our cultural and religious practices with the contamination that will flow through out ocean waters and land.Since the beginning of the 19th century efforts of Tikigaq’s battles and survival since the arrival of commercial whale hunters – to mid 20th century DOE’s intent to blast a canal with atomic bombs; a canal like the Panama Canal with the purpose of exporting oil via ocean waters – then to radioactive soil imported from the Nevada test sites with experimentation in arctic soils and Tikigaq residence’s.After the passing of ANSCA our battle with Red Dog mine’s contaminants flowing into our hunting grounds via the ocean currents and wind brought into Tikigaq.Now the talks we hear is the possible development of the Point Lay Coal mine with a possible building of a road from the Point Lay mine to the harbor of Red Dog. The Road threatens our way of life by cutting off the caribou, which we depend on for meat.These are the battles we have experienced and now the current one is the oil industry in our hunting grounds. Our whale catches are shared with many from our area not only in our village but surrounding villages statewide and for some of our people who live outside in the lower 48 bring some back with them back to where they live.We have continuously fought to retain our cultural and religious ceremonies from the state, federal and private sectors for over a hundred years. I am now a third generation Inupiaq battling to keep our food source that comes from the ocean and from land healthy and to ensure that our rights as Inupaiq are protected. For my grandchildren their right to be Inupiaq by ensuring their food source is healthy to eat. And that they have the same rights as I did in participation of our whale hunt that brings forth our rich cultural and religious practices after the whale hunt.I would like to see my oceans and lands clean and protected to have that right to eat our traditional food during ceremonies that occur by seasons. For every season we have rituals we celebrate that are practiced to ensure our success in the following whale hunting season for the next year. These rituals are our religious practices.I would like to invite our president and Congress to see firsthand our whale hunting and festivities that occur. Our festivities occur only with the success of the whale catch. Even without the catch throughout the season we do follow rituals to ensure our next year of whale catch may be successful.
– Mae H., Alaska
- I am passionate about leaving Alaska wild, not only because my people are stewards of the land but also because we have a unique connection between the people, land and animals. I say this because a few years ago, my father passed away and at his burial, an eagle appeared. flew around for a bit then was going away until my family started to sing traditional native songs then the eagle came by three times. My family and I took this as a way for my dad to say good bye. This year, we lost a young nephew and at his burial, seven eagles showed up! We are born here and buried in the ground (land) when it is time to go home. We respect animals because they have kept us alive before the stores came into play. The creator knows that we never take anything that we didn’t need. These eagles that appeared for us, that really says something about our connections with the land and animals. If nothing else convinces you to keep our Alaskan wild life active, please take in consideration that America has its own little pure land that the people, animals and land still have a connection like no one else in this country.
– Georgina S., Alaska
- I am a grandmother that has lived and worked on the shores of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. I have watched skinny polar bears, exhausted, be shot on the beaches, because there is no more old ice for them to rest on, hunt from and so they arrive in the village and are killed before they can hurt a person, eat a dog, or dig up the remains of last season’s whaling. I worked in Kaktovik, the northeastern village on the edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and I saw the mighty Porcupine Caribou calving. I am a white old woman, a social worker and Alaska has blessed me with a wonderful life, I doubt my grandchildren will know. Besides disregarding the Human Rights of the Athabascan Gwich’in Indians that see the Arctic Coastal Plain as sacred ground, we have been wasteful, inconsiderate and disrespectful. I feel sad. I try to say something and I get so emotional that I can be discredited as a nut case. The Arctic I know and love is dying. We must become more thoughtful.
– Patricia G., Alaska
- I am a lifelong lover of America’s wild places. The first peoples of America believed that they came from the land so their names also came from the land. What might our names be if we were to be named for the way we treat our wild lands?
– Kat H., Alaska
- I am a 75-year-old woman who celebrated her 50th anniversary with a great trip to Alaska. We started with Denali where we saw the mountain in sunlight at 1 a.m. Then we camped on the North Slope with a Nature Conservancy group. And, finally, we toured the southwest Tongass National Forest by boat. What a great state. It should stay wild for future generations to enjoy.
– Shirley D., Maine
- I am a recently retired surgeon and mountaineer. I have spent time in many remote places in the world– Antarctica, Patagonia, the high mountains of the Himalaya and Karakorum. In Alaska, America ‘owns’ some of the most spectacular wild places on earth–it is our duty and privilege to enjoy and protect them.
– Michael S., Pennsylvania
- I am a Girl Scouts of the USA Instructor of Trainers. I attempt to inspire people younger than I that we have a responsibility to our planet’s future!
– Chanda V., New York
- I am chairman of the Maryland Wildlands Committee that helped to set aside close to 40,000 acres of lands representing the various landscapes across our state that are now the equivalent of the National Wilderness system. I am passionate about the preservation of valuable ecosystems and Alaska is blessed with the greatest lands needing wilderness protection.
– Ajax E., Maryland
- I am a doctoral candidate in quantitative biology at the University of Texas at Arlington. I have never been to Alaska though I have friends and family who have been there. I have wanted to go nearly all my life and explore the wilderness there but have been unable to do so. I dream of it. I need Wilderness more than I can express. It is a deep part of me; it is essential to my being, even when I am not there. I miss it greatly when I am away.
– Ann M., Texas
- I am just an old woman who wanted something left of nature for my grandchildren. At the rate everything is being destroyed because of greed I worry about even their survival. I have been an active advocate for the environment and animals for 50 years now and have seen things get worse at an alarming rate. May God help His Creation.
– Barbara W., Kentucky
- I am wardrobe supervisor for a company that does entertainment on cruise ships, so protecting the Alaskan Wilderness is a big deal to me. Of course, for the obvious reasons of wanting to preserve beautiful places for younger generations to see and for business reasons. I know it’s selfish… but Alaskan cruises are a huge source of income for my workplace.
– Lynn C., California
- I am the Environmental Adventure Program director in Western North Carolina. I have always had a passion for the wilderness and an even greater passion to share it with others. We can learn so many lessons from the wilderness and it is important to share these lessons with others. What a great thing it is to have fun outside, while learning about it, protecting it, and sharing it with others. I have seen some amazing sights in all of my journeys and know the importance of keeping those sites beautiful!
– Kara R., North Carolina
- I am a retired Navy officer, outdoorsman, environmentalist, and outdoor retail shop owner. So many of our towns and counties in the Lower 48 fail to see and heed the planning and growth mistakes of others. I like to think we’ll be smarter in Alaska and that the Alaskan wilderness will be preserved.
– Keith B., Colorado
- I am a lifelong hunter and fisherman who grew up on a farm in Illinois. I’ve been dedicated to environmental preservation for most of my life. I believe we will soon have an administration and a Congress that cares about preservation. Alaska is a treasure, and if our country treats Alaska that way, we can at long last be an exemplary leader to the rest of the world. I hope we can pass this on to our descendants.
– Larry B., Illinois
- I am a wildlife biologist who knows that Alaska’s wilderness is a summer nesting site for many migratory birds, some of which are threatened by the loss of wild habitat all along their summer and winter migratory routes. If Alaska is not protected, the world will loose more of its diversity, leading to an unhealthier world.
– Peggy D., South Dakota
- I am a lawyer living in New Jersey. I have never visited Alaska and likely will never do so. But there is a certain psychic pleasure in knowing that somewhere there is a pristine wilderness untouched by commercial exploitation. It is also immensely important to conserve our wilderness areas to prevent the extinction of species and preserve biodiversity.
– Gene H., New Jersey
- I am a scientist, an educator, a mountaineer. I fell in love with wildness when I was 17. A day after high school graduation, I flew north to the Kenai Penninsula for my summer job. I try to explain Alaska to my friends and family. All I can say is this: Alaska has taught me how to think, how to be in this world. It is my constant context and my source of grace and humility.
– Erica L., Washington
- I am a 67-year-old retired female. My first trip to Alaska was four years ago. My journey was a journey of heartbreak. My two older brothers, who were identical twins, had disappeared in a plane with three other men. I was joining a search party of family menbers, friends and strangers. When my plane touched down in Sitka, it was like I was transported back hundreds of years. Mountains touched the water and a vast forest stretched before me. When we were out on the water searching, we saw whales and grizzlies. The beauty was so overwhelming and so transporting. My soul was on flight. I never dreamed that such raw beauty was still there for my eyes to see. My brothers were never found, but if ever there was heaven on earth, it was in Sitka at Deadman Reach. That was the resting place that was chosen for all those people on that plane. So when I think of my brothers and the tears flow, they flow remembering the beautiful wilderness and the wonderful people of Sitka, Alaska.My heart breaks when I hear of wolves being gunned down from airplanes, the governor pushing “drill baby drill,” the massacre of seals or the overfishing. To think that anyone would want to destroy the last of our national treasures, the last of our wilderness or to massacre her beautiful creatures. My brain and soul cannot wrap around such hideous acts. My heart will always be connected to this beauty and the memories will always stir deep within my soul. So if I do one thing in life, it will be to act against any further destruction to this hauntingly beautiful Alaska and her beautiful creatures.
– Cathern M., Washington
- I am a New Jersey resident who lives far from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but I am moved by the awesome beauty and solitude of the area being threatened. I am a geography professor and a Republican, who has studied this ANWR issue from many different angles. I have come to the conclusion that it is vital to save this precious piece of land for the caribou and for our children. We should be directing our focus to developing alternatives to petroleum, which can ultimately end our dependence on OPEC oil and provide a cleaner Earth.
– Judy O., New Jersey
- I am a hiker, backpacker, camper, cyclist, runner, swimmer. I’ve hiked all over New England, some in the western states, and currently all over the Mid-Atlantic where I live. My trip-of-a-lifetime happened this past June, when I accompanied my older, very experienced sister on an 18-day hike/canoe across the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We saw countless birds and wildflowers, a gray wolf, a grizzly bear, polar bear tracks, incredible snow-covered mountain peaks. And the vastness, the wildness, the openness, the solitude, the quiet, the light, the wind. The entire place untouched by anything except the world it is intended to be. It was an honor to walk/paddle through this place; it was spiritual to witness the harmony of it all. I was changed as a person. I am someone who feels that places such as the Arctic Refuge must remain. There are not many of these places left on our planet.
– Dottie R., Maryland
- I am a student and online activist that plans on dedicating my life to protecting the planet and freedom of all living on it. I’ve grown up in East Tennessee, and have seen what a lack of reasonable regulations on environmental management can cause. Alaska is a beautiful place that deserves protection. We can’t fail our planet for so many reasons, and we all need to work together in protecting it.
– Michael M., Tennessee
- I am a photographer living in New York City. I was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where I grew up on the stories of Jack London. I also read many stories about Alaska. I have always dreamed of going. The arctic animals, foxes, polar bears, otters, and snowy owls have always been animals of majesty and mystery to me.
– Pauline S., New York
- I’m a lifelong Hoosier who believes that each of us has a duty to protect the sanctity of wildlife and our shared environment. I consider myself somewhat of a caretaker by trade and hold a degree in Geography. To understand, preserve, and protect our fragile environment and ecosystems needs to be a shared goal amongst us all.
– Terry Y., Indiana
- As the author of ‘Cultural Politics and the Mass Media: Alaska Native Voices, ‘ I know that the Gwich’in peoples have been fighting for their cultural and environmental rights for a long time. In the 1960s, they worked tirelessly to prevent the destruction of much of the habitat in the Yukon Flats that would have resulted from the construction of a hydroelectric dam [Rampart Dam]. In 2003, a Republican sponsored research study by the National Research Council on the effects of oil drilling on the North Slope concluded that ‘three decades of drilling along Alaska’s North Slope have produced a steady accumulation of harmful environmental and social effects…’ [New York Times, March 5, 2003]The time to begin to put an end to global warming and environmental degradation and racism is long overdue.
– Pat D., New Hampshire
- As a retired Episcopal clergyman, one who was fortunate enough to visit the Refuge in 1997 on a rafting trip, I continue to be an enthusiastic supporter of full protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Its uniqueness, natural beauty, and importance as a homeland for a wide variety of migratory birds and animals; its fertile coastal plain, which serves as a summer homeland for migrating caribou from northwestern Canada; each of these attributes renders the refuge worthy of protection as one of earth’s singular places. Special attention should also be extended to the Gwich’in people who for centuries have lived just south of the refuge, calling themselves ‘Caribou people.’ These folk are virtually dependent upon a healthy migratory caribou herd for food, clothing, and products made from caribou bones.
– Carleton S., New Hampshire
- I am a life long Republican (of the Teddy Roosevelt variety), a member of REP America and a wilderness advocate. Wild Alaska belongs to all Americans and should be protected. Conservation is conservative.
– Bob J., New Jersey
- I am a Youth Outreach Specialist for a non-profit, Christian-based program called TreeHouse. I would like to speak on behalf of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a place we as a nation should respect and protect. Drilling in this area would do more harm than good. Economically and environmentally we are not doing ourselves any favors by attacking this sacred place.
– Jill L., Minnesota