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Oil and Gas Lease Sale in National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska Protects Sensitive Migratory Bird Habitat, Offers 1.8 Million Acres



WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior will hold a lease sale
for oil and gas parcels in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska next
month, offering 190 tracts of land, totaling about 1.8 million acres, while
protecting critical migratory bird and caribou habitat in buffer zones
around Teshekpuk Lake.

“This sale reflects the Administration’s continuing efforts to encourage
environmentally responsible development of domestic energy resources,
including fossil fuels, to reduce our nation’s heavy dependence on imported
oil,” Secretary Salazar said. “It also demonstrates our continuing
commitment to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitat on sensitive
public lands with exceptional ecological value.”

Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will open sealed bids for the
lease sale at 9 a.m., August 11, 2010, in the Wilda Marston Theater of the
Z J Loussac Public Library, 3600 Denali St., Anchorage. The tracts offered
cover land available for oil and gas leasing within the Northeast NPR-A,
closest to existing infrastructure, such as the Trans Alaska Pipeline
System, and areas of known development potential.

In developing this lease sale, the BLM chose not to offer lands around
Teshekpuk Lake in consideration of important fish and wildlife habitats.
The lake shore areas contain internationally significant molting habitat
for black brant, Canada geese, and greater white-fronted geese.

The lake’s shoreline has been respected through several Administrations,
which have agreed to withhold the lake (219,000 acres) and areas to the
north from leasing. The area north and east of the lake (430,000 acres)
has been deferred from leasing until 2018. This sale also holds back about
170,000 acres south of the lake because of migratory bird and caribou
habitat concerns.

The Teshekpuk Caribou Herd has almost doubled in population in recent
years, from about 35,000 to almost 70,000 animals, and BLM has agreed that
the herd’s biology justifies holding back a significant number of potential
leases south of Teshekpuk Lake so that the agency can update its
understanding of the herd’s needs and land use. The herd is particularly
important to local village subsistence hunters who take about 5 percent of
the herd in an average year.

Currently, there are 310 authorized oil and gas leases totaling 3,026,633
acres in the NPR-A. The sale announcement is published in today’s Federal
Register. For detailed information regarding the lease sale visit:
http://www.blm.gov/ak/

The BLM manages 245 million acres of public land known as the National
System of Public Lands. The lands are primarily located in 12 Western
states, including 75 million acres in Alaska. With a budget of about $1
billion, the bureau also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface
mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to
sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and
enjoyment of present and future generations.

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