Given the unprecedented migration of snowy owls coming through this region this year, many people have been lucky enough to see one of these beautiful birds in the wild for the first time. Snowy owls are from the Arctic region, and some of the species hatch in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Providing necessary habitat to hundreds of migratory bird species, the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a vital sanctuary to birds that migrate through all 50 states and nearly every continent.

While the cause of this irruption is unknown, it serves as an important reminder that migratory birds that you see in your own back yard also depend upon critical habitat somewhere else. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is that place for many of our migratory bird species. Working to make sure the refuge continues to be protected is important, and that is why I would like to thank U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Rick Nolan and Tim Walz for their support of HR139, known as the Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act, and encourage our other members of Congress to join them. The protection of the Coastal Plain of the Arctic refuge is not only for the birds, polar bears and caribou who rely on it, but for all of us.

LOIS NORRGARD, Bloomington


The writer is on the staff of the Alaska Wilderness League’s Upper Midwest Field Office.