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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness

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Suzanne Potter

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(California News Service) Conservation groups are rejoicing over the decision Friday by the Biden administration to reject a proposed mining road in Alaska.

The 211-mile Ambler Road would have sliced through the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, severing the migration route for a Western Arctic Caribou herd.

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Joe Biden

Alex Johnson, interior Alaska director for the National Parks Conservation Association, said it was important for the feds to take a stand in Alaska so mining interests do not start eyeing other national parks.

"This is a very expensive, destructive and just highly speculative project that does not in any way support our clean energy goals as a country," Johnson contended. "And ultimately would permanently threaten the health and well-being of local communities and the tribes."

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski slammed the decision, warning it could limit jobs and tax revenues for Alaska by preventing exploration for minerals she said are important to national security, like copper, cobalt, gallium and germanium.

Jayme Dittmar, a photographer and filmmaker from Fairbanks, said the road would have been very disruptive to the 66 Native American villages along the proposed route.

"That'd be 168 trucks passing through close vicinity to the villages," Dittmar pointed out. "There would be hundreds of bridges built. It would dismantle a subsistence livelihood that's been in place for thousands and thousands of years."

The road was seen as a negative for tourism to the Brooks Range area. According to the Alaska Travel Industry Association, Californians make up 9 percent of visitors to Alaska.