Letter to the editor: Protect Arctic Refuge

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Protect Arctic Refuge

I recently traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in Wilderness Week hosted by Alaska Wilderness League, the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society.

Along with concerned citizens from across the country, I learned about the current issues facing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Arctic Ocean, heard from indigenous Arctic leaders and lobbied a number of members of Congress.

Before this past week, I wasn't aware how critical the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is to both the native population and wildlife.

My experience in Washington was an amazing one. I teamed up with fellow advocates as well as Alaskans, and we visited the Capitol to share with legislators our concerns, raise awareness and enhance support for these critical public lands and waters. It was empowering to talk to members of Congress about these special places and I am particularly grateful for staff of Representative Welch and Senators Leahy and Sanders for taking the time to meet with my group.

Protection of our public places, like the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge and the Arctic Ocean is the responsibility of all citizens. It is our hope that our elected Representative and Senators will take the information we shared with them to heart and co-sponsor HR 239 -- designating the coastal section of the Refuge as "Wilderness — and stand with us in the effort to protect the Arctic Refuge for all Americans and for the wildlife for whom the area is so critical.

— Denis Rydjeski, Sierra Club Upper Valley Group Springfield


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