ARCTIC REFUGE | Margaret Murie’s Testimony Before Congress

Conservationists have won the fight to keep oil drilling out of the Arctic Refuge more than 50 times. But in conservation, you only get to lose once.

Nicknamed the “Grandmother of Conservation,” perhaps no individual has fought harder for the protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge than Margaret Murie.

The voice over from this film comes from portions of a testimony Margaret Murie delivered to Congress on June 4th, 1977 as part of the public hearings for HR39 – the bill that would eventually be signed into law in 1980 as the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

ANILCA expanded the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to 19.2 million acres, and designated 1.5 million acres of the coastal plain as area 1002 (ten oh-two). The 1002 specifically requires an act of Congress before any oil drilling is permitted.

For forty years, the GOP has fought to do exactly that. In late 2017, under the cover of tax reform, Republicans passed a tax bill that included a provision for opening the 1002 to oil drilling. Using a political procedure known as budget reconciliation, this bill passed the Senate with just 51 votes, instead the 60 required to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

Sparked by a desire to experience these wild untouched lands before they are permanently altered by seismic exploration and oil rigs, my friends and I set out to traverse the Refuge by foot and packraft. Our course would cover 180 miles, starting near the Continental Divide deep in the Brooks Range and ending at the Arctic Ocean, in the heart of the Coastal Plain and the 1002.

This is what’s at stake.

Special Thanks:
American Packrafting Association
Alpacka Raft
Moe Witschard
Brad Meiklejohn

And to my partners who shouldered massive loads so I could carry a bunch of camera gear for 13 unsupported days in the backcountry.

Video: Dan Ransom
Voice Over: Eden Bodnar
Music: Lights in the Sky, Caleb Etheridge