Former President Carter to speak at Shepherdstown symposium

January 16, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Former President Jimmy Carter
Associated Press

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — In 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s interior secretary signed the order creating an 8.9 million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Range, saving what today has grown into 19 million acres of protected wilderness in Alaska’s northeast corner.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed landmark legislation, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which created the 19.6 million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Carter will speak Tuesday on the first day of a three-day symposium at the National Conservation Training Center on the 50th anniversary of the refuge. The event is closed to the public, with the exception of a screening of filmmaker Tom Veltre’s documentary, “Nature’s Greatest Defender,” Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in NCTC’s Byrd Auditorium.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge covers as much ground as South Carolina. It is home to 45 species of mammals and nearly 200 species of birds. Living or migrating through the refuge are grizzly, black and polar bears, wolves, musk oxen, Dall sheep and the porcupine caribou herd.

No one lives in the refuge, and there are no permanent structures or roads.

Three native Indian tribes live on the refuge’s outskirts, including Venetie, Inupiat and Gwich’in, said Sarah Gannon-Nagle, NCTC spokeswoman.

The refuge is open to the public for hunting, fishing, backpacking, canoeing and hiking, said NCTC spokesman Mark Madison. The only way in and out is by canoe, airplane or walking.

Carter, 86, will be one of about 40 speakers, among them many prominent conservation leaders, who will address the symposium over the three days.

“For the next three days we will explore the history, uniqueness and science of this largest national wildlife refuge in the world,” an NCTC press release states.

Among the invited speakers are Ken Salazar, interior department secretary; historian and author Douglas Brinkley; Amy Vedder, senior vice president of the Wilderness Society; Tom Butler, activist and writer; Roger Kaye, wilderness specialist and pilot who flew the ANWR for 25 years; Ave Thayer, the refuge’s first manager from 1969 to 1982; Sarah James, a Neetsaii Gwich’in Athabascan Indian who was raised in the traditional nomadic ways; and the only local speaker, Ed Zahniser of Shepherdstown, whose father, Howard Zahniser, was the primary author of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

Highlights of the three-day symposium include “Wild Legacy,” an original stage production featuring professional actors, which pays homage to Olaus and Mardy Murie, the husband-and-wife team who played a central role in the establishment of ANWR; and a reunion of the refuge’s managers.

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