The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is administratively implementing President Obama’s recommendation that certain lands in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska be designated as wilderness.  FWS is finalizing a management plan for ANWR that will treat more than 12 million acres of the area as wilderness for the next 15 years – the plan’s duration.

FWS must manage wildlife refuges under its jurisdiction in Alaska by using what is called a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP).  A CCP is a land use planning document that guides the agency in its management decisions regarding lands within the refuge.

FWS began the planning process for ANWR’s next CCP in 2010.  FWS previously released drafts of the CCP for public comment.

The current notice regarding the CCP identifies FWS’ preferred alternative as being to manage substantial amounts of lands within ANWR as wilderness.  FWS is publishing notice of the revised CCP and its preferred alternative for public review, but is not taking further public comment at this time.

Parties interested in resource development opportunities in northern Alaska should review the draft CCP for ANWR because it will provide insight both into how ANWR may be managed for the foreseeable future and FWS’s thinking on resource issues that are likely present in other parts of northern Alaska.  Though FWS is not taking further public comment at this time, Congress will certainly be taking a closer look and interested parties may have further opportunities to present their viewpoints.