Critical Habitat Designation for Polar Bears Seen as Too Extensive; Plan Sent Back to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
ASRC is reacting to U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline’s decision to vacate the Critical Habitat Designation for polar bears on Alaska’s North Slope. In yesterday’s 50-page ruling, Judge Beistline said the current designation “went too far” and if his decision stands, it would force the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to create an entirely new Critical Habitat Designation plan that addresses a list of concerns.
“We are very encouraged that Judge Beistline looked at the evidence and came to this conclusion,” said Rex A. Rock Sr., ASRC president and CEO. “Polar bears already had extensive protections under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. The designation plan, as presented, would have needlessly hurt our region and other communities along the western Alaska coastline down to Hooper Bay without providing any additional conservation benefits.”
In November of 2010, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced a plan to set aside more than 187,000 square miles across the Arctic Slope, Northwest Arctic, Bering Straits and Calista regions as critical habitat for the polar bear, a move that could have needlessly delayed or canceled development projects in the local areas. Since then, ASRC and the North Slope Borough have been leading a coalition of Alaska Native groups from the North Slope, Northwest and Southwest Alaska to fight that ruling in court.
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is owned by and represents the business interests of the Arctic Slope Iñupiat. Since opening enrollment in 1989 to Alaska Natives born after 1971, the corporation’s shareholder base has nearly tripled, growing from the 3,700 original enrollees to around 11,000 today. Corporate headquarters are based in Barrow, Alaska, with administrative and subsidiary offices located in Anchorage and throughout the United States. ASRC, along with its family of companies, is the largest Alaskan-owned company, employing approximately 10,000 people worldwide. The company has five major business segments: petroleum refining and marketing, energy support services, construction, government services and resource development.