|Douglas Yates || |
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a productive yet fragile wilderness. Hundreds of plant and animal species have adapted to a climate characterized by a severe temperature regime and a short growing season. Within the refuge's boundaries, spanning north and south of the Brooks Range, lies an intact ecosystem. It is the only one in America's arctic and one of only a few in the entire circumpolar north. Its survival depends of our ability to recognize its value unto itself, to local people and to future generations of Americans.
Gwich'in Athabascans on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border revere its northern limit, the coastal plain. This narrow strip of land, hard by the Beaufort Sea, is the birthing place
In the midst of a political battle, the refuge remains a place of sweeping vistas, soaring peaks and swift rivers. Its geography of mountain valleys and broad plains is magnified by its remote location in northeast Alaska. It's the continent's northern edge. By rounds, it is stark and austere, welcoming and tender. Bounded by arctic ice and buttressed by the Brooks Range, it is the last true place.
Wilderness is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yet as a value wilderness defies quantification. It's this gap in our accounting-of-what-matters that spurs the oil developers' cocksure sales pitch. National security and energy independence are trotted out as a rationale for drilling. Yet the best data available indicates the refuge holds roughly 3.2 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil (USGS, 1998), less than six months of annual domestic consumption. By contrast, the United States uses more than 19 million barrels per day (DOE, 2000a), which is about 7 billion barrels per year. If Congress caves in to the oil lobby's tactics security will not be enhanced; oil prices will not drop. But we will have lost one of the nation's crown jewels, a wildlife refuge of indisputable value.
Artists and others who travel in this place discover at least two things: an invigorated imagination and a sense that technology can go too far. While there is no substitute for being there, photography and other media make both discoveries accessible. As witnesses, we offer testimony in defense of wilderness. At a time when greed clouds the precautionary principle, these galleries are intended to help quantify the intangible, vivify the protective response.
|Caribou in Lake |
|Ground Heating |
|August Shadows |
|Lichen Habitat |
|Coastal Plain View of Brooks Range |
|Clearwater Riffles |
|Headwaters of the |
|Mt. Chamberlin, |
|Hard Left, Hulahula River |
|Lichen on the Diagonal |
|Bore tide, Lichen |
|Winter Shelter |
|Dwarf Rhododendron, Lapland Rosebay |
|Photographs ©1985-2007 by Douglas Yates. Used with permission of the photographer.|