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Fossilized dinosaur bones. Caribou tracks, both ancient and new. Wide open spaces. Vast migrations... The National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska is more than a natural resource – it's a place of rare, unprotected beauty.
Originally set aside by President Harding in 1923 as a back-up resource for military fuel needs, the National Petroleum Reserve is home to half a million migrating caribou, countless migrating birds from all over the world, and, surprisingly, one of the largest Polar dinosaur fossil beds in the Arctic. The Reserve is also the largest piece of undisturbed public land in the United States – yet few outside of Alaska have ever heard of it.
On Arctic Ground, from Braided River, the conservation imprint of Mountaineers Books, features a series of vignettes written by well-loved Alaskan author Debbie S. Miller (Midnight Wilderness) about the astonishing array of wildlife she has encountered over many seasons exploring the Reserve. Additionally, former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt writes the book's preface, drawing on his years of experience managing both the economic and biological resources of the Reserve.
Miller's vignettes are accompanied by images from an array of award-winning conservation photographers. On Arctic Ground also features essays and insight from Alaskan writers and science authorities – including wildlife biologist Jeff Fair and senior Audubon Alaska scientist John Schoen – as well as an essay and audio download by noted Alaska writer and soundscape artist Richard Nelson. Paleontologists Jack Horner and Patrick Druckenmiller share the most recent research and remarkable discoveries associated with dinosaur studies in the Alaskan Arctic.
On Arctic Ground will serve as a platform to bring greater public awareness to the opportunities for permanently preserving the significant biological areas and wildlife that thrive within the Reserve. Braided River will collaborate with the Alaska Wilderness League to bring this story to members of Congress, the media, and the general public.
The enclosed CD, Arctic Voices: A Journey in Sound, takes the reader on two audio journeys into America's wildest place: the remote tundra of Alaska's Arctic in the heart of the summer range of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd. "The Old River" (28:41) was recorded on a beautiful morning a few day before the 2011 summer solstice. "Surrounded by Caribou" (29:47) is a soundprint recorded 2010 of one of the most amazing natural events on Earth: thousands of caribou migrating north to their summer range on Alaska's North SIope.