For more than 120 years the Sierra Club has encouraged outdoor enthusiasts to explore the Earth’s wild places in a safe and responsible manner. The organization works diligently to educate us on the fragility of our ecosystems and the importance of protecting them for future generations to enjoy as well. Recently the organization enlisted a new ambassador to their cause by recruiting model/actress Brooklyn Decker to join them on an outing to one of the most wild and remote places on the planet where they spent a week exploring the wilderness.
Brooklyn, along with her Sierra Club guides, made the long journey north to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge located in northeast Alaska. While there, she spent her days hiking and whitewater rafting along the Marsh Fork of the Canning River. This is a place that few people are ever fortunate enough to see, as it is estimated that less than 50 people per year visit the 19.2 million acre refuge. To put that in perspective, Yellowstone National Park is a mere 2.2 million acres in size and sees more than 3 million visitors on an annual basis.
While in the Arctic, the model who has graced the covers of Sports Illustrated and Glamour, amongst numerous others, learned about conservation and climate change from environmental experts. She also learned about the mounting pressure to drill for oil inside the refuge, something that could have a devastating effect on the environment there. Those threats have prompted the Sierra Club to call for the refuge to be designated a national monument, something that would afford it further protection from becoming developed.The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to a stunning array of animals. Each year thousands of migratory birds flock to the region for summer nesting including geese, swans, sea ducks, golden eagles and numerous other species. Additionally, large herds of caribou pass through the refuge on their annual migration, while Dell sheep and wolves make it their permanent home. Along its northern boundaries, polar bears hunt and hibernate while grizzly bears and arctic foxes are not uncommon sights during the summer months either.
For now, this is a pristine wilderness that is unlike any other on the planet. It is a remote region that remains largely untouched by man and personally I’d like to see it remain that way. As an adventure traveler who loves to explore the more remote corners of our planet, the ANWR is on my places that I would absolutely love to visit. But aside from allowing hikers, backpackers and other travelers into the refuge, I hope it never becomes more developed. There are some places on the Earth that should remain wild and this is one of them.
[Photo credit: Maggie Kao/Sierra Club]