Page A8 - July 22, 2010 - Teton Valley News
Photo courtesy of the Murie Center
Olaus and Mardy Murie on their 1956 Murie Science Expedition to the Sheenjek River in the Brooks Range of Alaska. This expedition was the cornerstone for creation of the Arctic Refuge in 1960.
Local woman heads to Arctic to commemorate wildlife refuge and conservation stewards Lisa Nyren TVN Staff Molly Loomis is headed North. The Victor-based writer and adventurer will leave Teton Valley for the Arctic next week to help bring attention to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and its 50th anniversary this year. A writer-in-residence at Jackson’s The Murie Center, Loomis will trace the steps of renowned conservationists Olaus and Mardy Murie, who were instrumental in putting the refuge on the map, literally. The Muries also owned a home in Grand Teton National Park and are celebrated nationwide as stewards of the nation’s 20th Century conservation movement. “We’re so lucky being here in the Tetons to have people like the Muries within our own conservation heritage,” Loomis said, adding that her trip to ANWR this month is a fitting way to honor the family. “It just seemed like such a great conversion of things, it being the 50th anniversary [of the refuge],” she said. On her journey, Loomis will research the Muries’ strong tie to the Arctic as well as interview native people in and around the refuge and ask them how they feel about a particular area within the refuge: Area 1002. This area encompasses 1.5 million of the refuge’s 19 million acres, and it is the only area in the refuge that could be opened to oil drilling. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 established ANWR and left open the possibility of Area 1002’s future as a source for oil. The area can only be opened to drilling through an act of Congress, but differing opinions about what should ultimately be done with 1002 circulate throughout northern Alaska. Area 1002 serves as calving grounds for the
Porcupine caribou, which are the main source of sustenance of the Gwich’in people there, who live in small villages in northeastern Alaska and Canada. The Gwich’ins, in general, would like to see Area 1002 preserved so they can continue to survive off the Porcupine caribou. Alternatively, the Inupiat people, who live near the coast and rely mainly on seafood for sustenance rather than caribou, generally argue for Area 1002 to be opened to drilling. Drilling would mean economic growth, mostly in the form of jobs, for the Inupiat, especially those living in the Kaktovik village. Loomis and her travel group will fly into Alaska’s Lost Lake area, where the Muries had an expedition in 1956. That trip was with other noted conservationists such as George Schaller, who was a graduate student on the trip and is now a senior scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society. The writer will then packraft down the Jago river, which runs through the refuge and the heart of Area 1002. “It’s just an opportunity for people to become more aware of some of the issues in Alaska … especially in light of the Gulf
spill,” said Loomis. It’s a good time to “[look] at where our energy comes from.” Loomis leaves for Alaska July 26. Stay tuned to the Teton Valley News for updates on her travels over the next three weeks. More information about the Murie Center can be found at muriecenter.org. For information about the refuge visit. arctic.fws. gov/. To contact Lisa Nyren e-mail email@example.com.