America’s Most Endangered Rivers® Report: 2009 Edition
#8 Beaver Creek, Alaska
Threat: Proposed oil and Gas Development
Partners: Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Fairbanks Paddlers, Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribal Government (Native Village of Fort Yukon), Arctic Audubon Chapter, Alaska Chapter of Wilderness Watch
Wild and Scenic Beaver Creek is a wilderness gem, home to abundant salmon and other wildlife and a thriving Alaska Native culture. It is also a spectacular destination for anglers, boaters, skiers, and hunters. But Beaver Creek’s wild character may soon be traded for oil and gas development by the very agency mandated to protect it—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Although the creek is enveloped within three national conservation areas, a secretly-negotiated deal initiated under the Bush administration to transfer protected lands into corporate hands could result in the proliferation of hundreds of miles of roads, pipelines, airstrips, and drilling wells that would cause irreparable harm to the creek and threaten the Yukon River downstream. The Obama administration must halt this misguided project and protect the people and businesses that depend on a healthy Beaver Creek. Learn More
UPDATE (October 2009): American Rivers and its partners called on the USFWS Alaska Regional Director Geoff Haskett and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to halt any further progress on the final Environmental Impact Statement and land exchange agreement. On July, 2, 2009, Haskett responded by announcing that the agency will select the “No Land Exchange Alternative” as its preferred course of action for the controversial Yukon Flats land trade in its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). According to a USFWS statement, over 100,000 public comments were submitted in response to the draft EIS and “the vast majority of comments, including those from several area tribal governments, opposed the proposed exchange.”
While, we praise Haskett and the USFWS for this great step forward — and it indicates the likely course the agency will take on this matter — it is not a final decision. American Rivers and our partners will continue to follow this issue and to ensure this harmful land exchange does not go through.