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for people who care about the West

A review of On Arctic Ground


On Arctic Ground: Tracking Time Through Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve,
Debbie S. Miller,
142 pages, hardcover:
Braided River, 2012.

The National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is the largest single chunk of public land in the country -- more than 10 times the size of Yellowstone National Park and home to caribou, polar bears and large populations of migratory birds. On Arctic Ground advocates for protecting the whole reserve with "only limited exceptions for oil and gas," something that seems unlikely given the Interior Department's current plan to open half of its 23 million acres to oil and gas development, while protecting wildlife habitat. The book, compiled before Interior's plan was announced, combines aerial shots of the reserve with close-up photos of buffalo, loons and bears. In its pages, author Debbie Miller describes a month-long river trip: "In the midst of this great earth and sky, I feel swallowed by the wilderness. Only by leaving vast places wild and free can we fully experience the richness of our living world."