What’s at Stake With Proposed Alaskan Road

Comment period on Ambler Road ending now

Several weeks ago, the Trump administration unilaterally decided to approve a road through Alaskan wilderness in the 300,000-acre Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. This week, the comment period is closing on yet another possible road in Alaska, this one through Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve. Called the Ambler Road, it would be 211 miles long and create access to mine one of the largest lodes of copper in the world in an open pit mine. It would also connect Native Alaskan villages that don’t want a road and cut a scar through the second-largest (and currently roadless) national park.

Adventure Journal supported an expedition to study the road and its impact, which we reported in AJ 06 (and which you can purchase here). The Ambler Road would also cross 161 rivers and streams, including the federally designated Kobuk and Alatna Wild and Scenic Rivers, and lead to the creation of quarries placed every 10 miles to provide gravel to build the road—and which may contain asbestos.

Click to enlarge.

In addition to crossing the national park, the proposed road also would cross Bureau of Land Management terrain, and the BLM accepting comments on the proposal until January 31, 2018. Comments can be submitted by any of the following methods:

• Email: blm_ak_akso_amblerroad_comments@blm.gov
• Fax: (907) 271-5479

The video below features Seth Kanter, author of Shopping for Porcupine and a contributor to AJ, giving a short look at his take as a native Alaskan. Photos are from the Brooks Range, site of the proposed road, by James Q Martin, from the Paving Tundra expedition.


Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.
Showing 10 comments
  • KatieSue

    THANK YOU for the heads up. I’ve been to the Brooks Range and do not want a road there. No no no no. I’m putting in my comment now!

  • Accidental FIRE

    I just emailed my comments in. I’ve done some backpacking in the Brooks Range in the area on the right side of the map in this post. All I can say is that it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life. We need wild places like that, not more roads. Please use the link in this post to submit your comments against the road.

  • Jason

    Email sent. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Mike Bernard

    I’ve been in Kobuk, ShungNak and Ambler during the winter months. A road would be a welcome alternative at those times local air transport can’t fly. It also looks like the planners have tried to keep park disturbance to a minimum.

    I understand the desire for remote places, but I think Year-round residents should have a say too. I don’t know but I would be surprised if the NANA local native corporation was opp owed to this road.

    • gringo

      Your argument of convenience vs. precedent of building a road through a protected area is pretty weak. Times are getting tougher, and if you are gonna step on to the stage you better up your game.

  • Mike Bernard


  • Stephen

    I just sent an email expressing my opposition to this proposal. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  • Joseph Gonzalez

    There will be those in support of developing ‘an empty space in Alaska’, supporting the notion that we need copper more than just ‘beauty’.
    We can develop alternatives but that’s not where the quick profits are. It seems almost inevitable, that we will eventually develop every ‘empty place’ to keep our economies strong and virile – until there are no more.

  • Zach

    Email sent. Thank you for making this visible to us.

  • Fred A Reimers

    My wife and I have both been in ANWR, on the Sheenjek River, sponsored by The Murie Center. Having viisted for two weeks in the refuge, we were impressed by the remote beauty and number of large animals we saw. That wildlife refuge should remain undisturbed. We are opposed to any road construction in ANWR.

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