Hunters and Anglers Launch Campaign to Conserve Alaska’s Brooks Range

November 13, 2023 By: Spencer Durrant

Photo: Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/Flickr

Alaska’s Brooks Range is arguably the most remote, isolated corner you’ll find within the United States, if not the world. It’s home to world-class fishing and hunting opportunities, including for species you won’t find anywhere else, like sheefish.

Due to its biological and ecological importance – not to mention its status as a world-class outdoors mecca – Hunters and Anglers for the Brooks Range has launched a formal opposition campaign to a proposed road that would bisect a large portion of the mountains. Hunters and Anglers for the Brooks Range is a project affiliated with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

The Ambler Road would traverse the Brooks Range east to west from near Coldfoot (a northern stop along the Dalton Highway) for 211 miles, crossing the Koyukuk and Kobuk Rivers, among countless other tributaries. The Ambler Road is proposed to be built as a private industrial corridor, meaning there would be no public access along the road. The Ambler Road would service new mines built in the Ambler Mining District, if the road is approved.

The Ambler Road project is being proposed by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA). AIDEA receives public funds, and according to Hunters and Anglers for the Brooks Range, it has received $301 million in public money since its first project 35 years ago.

All of the minerals mined from the Ambler Mining District would be shipped overseas for refining. There is currently no limit set on how many mines would be developed within the Ambler Mining District if the Ambler Road were approved.

Also of concern is that this project would cost $1.4 billion. AIDEA claims that money would be paid back through tolls on mining companies, but opponents of the Ambler Road claim that the current Ambler Mining District’s potential mineral yield may not be enough to even cover the cost of the road.

The environmental impacts of this project would be severe for both fish and wildlife, including caribou, moose, and grizzlies. Tailing ponds from the open-pit mines would pose a potential to leak into the Kobuk drainage, and the construction and associated mining activity could seriously harm the subsistence lifestyle of many Alaska Native tribes in the region.

You can learn more about the Ambler Road project, its potential impacts, and how to voice your opposition, here.