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Conservation IssuesALASKA REFUGE BILLS
GAINING SUPPORT
Congressman Smith
Signs On
Pat Sziber

Shortly after our last newsletter was mailed, we were very pleased to learn that Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey's 4th district Representative, signed on as an original co-sponsor of the Morris K. Udall Wilderness Act. He joined the other Representatives from our chapter area, Rush Holt (D-12th) and Bob Franks (R-7th) and most of the New Jersey delegation, thus guaranteeing significant support when the bill comes to the floor of the House for vote. (The correct number of this bill is H.R. 1239--not H.R. 900 as reported in our last issue.) We have sent the chapter's thanks to all three for their action on this critical legislation but it is more important that you, their constituents, do so as well. And thanks to all of you who contacted your legislators urging them to sign on. We also owe a debt of gratitude to 4th district resident Nancy Conklin of the Alaska Wilderness League whose tireless persistence was a major factor in this success.

And now, for more good news: The Senate version of this bill, The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Bill, was introduced in April by Senator Bill Roth (R-DE) as S.862, with 22 original co-sponsors. This bill would fully protect the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife refuge by designating the area as permanent wilderness.

The coastal plain has enormous ecological and cultural significance. It provides habitat for more than 200 species of wildlife and over 125 species of migratory birds, including tundra swans and king eiders. It also serves as the central calving grounds for the 150,000-member Porcupine Caribou herd, upon which the native Gwich'in people rely for their nuitritional and cultural subsistence. Despite the coastal plain's immense value to wildlife and humans, the oil industry has long sought to open the area to oil exploration and development. These two bills would assure permanent protection of the refuge from oil speclulation and other development.

What you can do: Write a short thank-you letter to the U.S. Representative from your district.

4th -The Honorable Christopher Smith, 2370 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515

7th - The Honorable Robert Franks, 225 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515

12th - The Honorable Rush Holt, 1630 Longworth Building, Washington, D.C. 20515

Not sure which is your district? Look here or tell us where you live and we'll tell you which is your Congressman. E-mail SziBird@aol.com

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Last revision: Monday, June 07, 1999 - 22:08