Press Release Jul 23, 2020

Interior Favors Industry with Mining Road Approved through America’s Wildest National Park & Preserve

The Department of Interior is turning a blind eye to the Park Service’s mission and rolling out the red carpet to international mining companies

WASHINGTON – The 210-mile Ambler mining road proposal in roadless Northwest Alaska advanced today, as the Department of Interior and other federal agencies approved the project, which will cut through Gates of the Arctic National Preserve. Interior’s final decision on the plan relied upon fatally flawed reports and rushed permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has consistently fought the proposed road and associated mining district, which threatens America’s largest contiguous complex of national parklands. The road would impact the way-of-life of Alaska Native communities and would pose an existential threat to the remarkable wild places and wildlife of the region which supports one of Earth’s longest land migrations, that of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd.

Recently and despite public opposition, the Alaska state development agency (AIDEA) voted to invest $500,000 on the Ambler mining road in 2020. The funds are the first expenditures from a $35 million that the agency allocated in April, locking up public funds that could have been used for Alaskan businesses during the pandemic, to instead invest in swelling preconstruction costs for the Ambler mining road aka a “billion-dollar driveway”.  

Statement by Alex Johnson, Alaska Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association

“Amid a global pandemic and economic crisis, the Trump administration has fast-tracked a billion-dollar 210-mile private industrial mining road that would cut through the largest area of roadless national parklands in the country.  

“In one of America’s largest and wildest parks, the Department of Interior is turning a blind eye to the Park Service’s mission and rolling out the red carpet to international mining companies by approving a private gravel pit and 20 miles of road within the preserve’s boundaries. 

“The road will permanently harm culturally and ecologically important sites, wildlife including the Western Arctic Caribou and the wilderness character of Gates of the Arctic. Leaders at Interior, who are charged with protecting America’s national parks, have authority to set the terms and conditions of the right-of-way, and sadly, appear to be catering to mining interests. 

“This is yet another deeply concerning example of the Trump administration undermining the mission of the National Park Service, to provide a handout to industrial developers.” 

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About The National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.