The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has become a household name, but who’s ever heard of the Western Arctic Reserve? Lots of folks will over the coming months if the Campaign for America’s Wilderness gets its way. The Washington, D.C.-based group is trying to pin a new name onto the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska as part of a campaign to fight commercial oil production in the 23 million-acre coastal plain in western Alaska, which provides critical habitat for migratory birds, caribou, and polar bears. The issue is heating up, with the Audubon Society, the Wilderness Society, and a host of other national environmental groups calling for greater protections in the reserve. Federal officials say they’ve received more than 70,000 emails and letters in recent weeks on a proposal to lease reserve land for commercial drilling.
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