Alaska ANWR Map
The Arctic National Wildlife Range was established in 1960. This designation was a promise to the American people to preserve the area’s “unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values.” Twenty years later, Congress passed the “Alaska Lands Act.” The Act renamed the area and more than doubled its size. Today the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge includes nearly 20 million acres (the size of South Carolina), three Wild rivers, and the largest designated Wilderness (eight million acres) in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
There are very few manmade trails and no roads within or entering ANWR, but there are some small Native villages within. On the northern fringes of the refuge is the Inupiat settlement of Kaktovik (pop. 255) and on the southern border the Gwich'in Village with a population of 150. A well used wilderness trail and historic passage exists between the two old villages, running through the refuge and all its areas of interior forest, boreal forest, and Coastal Arctic Plains. When visiting ANWR, most smart visitors get access to the vast land by small aircraft, but it is also just as easy to reach the remote areas by small boat or by extended hiking using the Dalton Highway passages by the western border of the refuge. In all of the United States, the geographic center most remote from human trails, dirt roads, or tiny settlements is found here, at the inland headwaters of the Sheenjek River which is a very long major tributary of the Porcupine River.
The on-going debate on whether to set-up drilling rigs for oil in the ANWR has been a political hot potato with environmental groups, oil companies, paid lobbyists, and the U.S. congress since the first political debates in 1977. The huge controversy surrounds setting-up drilling sites for oil in a pristine 1,500,000 acre section (tracts) on the coastal plain, known as the "1002 area". Much of the argument on whether to drill in the “1002 area" of ANWR rests on the amount of economically recoverable oil vs. permanent destruction and displacement of native wildlife. They are ruling on this using profits based on current world oil prices, balanced against the amount of potential harm (ground pollution, air pollution, noise pollution;etc) oil exploration might have upon the natural wildlife that uses the area as yearly migratory and breeding areas(see maps), in particular the very large undisturbed calving ground of the native Porcupine caribou.
Source U.S. FWS