Expedition to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge inspires further conservation

The issue of whether to allow drilling there has been hotly debated since the 1970's.

DENVER - We have been hearing a lot lately about President Trump, and Republicans in Congress wanting to open up oil drilling in a giant, remote, undeveloped area of Alaska known as ANWR. 

It stands for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has been a 20 million acre, protected area since 1960. 

The issue of whether to allow drilling there has been hotly debated since the 1970's. It's part of the reason three people from Boulder and Estes Park got involved in a project there over the summer. 
They wanted to call attention to the issue and to pay tribute to some people responsible for helping to create ANWR - many years ago.

Stan Havlick and Mike Fallon set out to retrace a 1956 expedition down the Sheenjek River, a 200-mile long waterway that winds south through ANWR. That original project included 95-year-old Robert Krear of Estes Park, a veteran who fought with the Tenth Mountain Division in World War II.
He was also a biologist and cinematographer. The ’56 expedition was put together by world-famous conservationists Margaret Murie and her husband Olaus.

They studied everything from the trees to the wildlife, birds, and insects. Havlick and Fallon say it took many years for Krear to realize how important of a role he played in the formation of the Wildlife Refuge.

As the two Coloradans floated the Alaskan River, they had a camera and recorded their journey.
When they finished their float, they headed to Fairbanks for one final tribute to the Murie Expedition. 

Colorado artist Susan Raymond created a bronze plaque to hang at the Margaret Murie Building at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Raymond told us she was honored to play a small role in the tribute and to call attention to why they should not develop ANWR.

"I draw great comfort from the fact that the Porcupine Caribou herd can make its annual migration,” said Raymond. “The way it has ever since the glaciers receded thousands of years ago, and it's unthinkable that we would destroy that system. 

The 3 Coloradans are now sharing stories from their summer trip with groups and organizations - in an effort to educate and rally support against drilling in ANWR. 

They hope in some way they can make a difference in preserving this wild land.
Just as Bob Krier and other members of the Murie Expedition did - so many years ago.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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