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America’s Wildest Refuge: Discovering The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Airs Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. During November, December, and January, dusky sunlight seeps over the horizon for only a few hours each day in the southern portions of the Refuge. The sun doesn't appear at all farther north.

Tucked into a remote corner of Alaska, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a place where wilderness is experienced on an epic scale. From forested lowlands in the south to the towering mountains of the Brooks Range and north to the coastal plains, this is where we can go back in time to see how the earth was before modern civilization.

A scenic view from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
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Above: A scenic view from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Muskoxen save their energy by not moving much and stay warm with long coats lined with six inches of the warmest wool in the world.
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Above: Muskoxen save their energy by not moving much and stay warm with long coats lined with six inches of the warmest wool in the world.

Permafrost monitoring scientist at work. The site photographs and vegetation sampling information collected will help Refuge staff detect changes over time in the amount of plant cover and the percent of water within the study area on Arctic Refuge's northern tundra.
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Above: Permafrost monitoring scientist at work. The site photographs and vegetation sampling information collected will help Refuge staff detect changes over time in the amount of plant cover and the percent of water within the study area on Arctic Refuge's northern tundra.

With sweeping views of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, its wildlife, and interviews with those that know it best, "America's Wildest Refuge" is an ecological and historical portrait of this corner of Alaska.

Meet the key figures that first identified this area as worthy of protection and worked to preserve it through the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Meet Alaskan Native residents that live near the refuge and rely on it to maintain their ancient subsistence way of life. Meet some of the refuge's wildest residents, including muskox, caribou, and bears, and the scientists studying them.

Establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on December 6, 1960 was a milestone in conservation history.

In response to concerns about rapid changes to our environment in the post war era, Americans rose to the challenge to preserve special areas including the Arctic Refuge. Here was the opportunity to protect entire ecosystems unfettered by the influence of humans.

Later with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act in 1980, the original range doubled its size - approximately the size of the state of South Carolina - and became the refuge we know today.

Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's official Facebook page for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Video

Trailer: America's Wildest Refuge

America's Wildest Refuge - TRAILER from Clint Cowen on Vimeo.

Above: An Artery Industries production for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with Alaska Geographic, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Teya Technologies. Produced by Clint Cowen, Alex Waite. Director of Photography Colin Hargraves. A fantastic way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge!

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