ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Land Management welcomed dozens to the Dena'ina Center in downtown Anchorage for an open forum and public testimony session over the future of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska.
"Everything that we get is important," said Lesli Ellis-Wouters of BLM Alaska. "We cannot operate, and cannot put together a comprehensive plan, unless we get this feedback from the public."
The public meetings were scheduled specifically for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which the Bureau of Land Management made available for public review and comment on December 21 of last year.
This, however, isn't your last chance to comment, as there's still time left in the online comment period - and if you happen to be in or headed to Washington, D.C., in the next couple of days.
Monday's event was in Anchorage, the thirteenth and last leading up to the final session in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 13. Six other public testimony open houses have taken place across Alaska, and the public comment period was extended to March 13.
The event included multiple presentations and various "subject matter experts on hand to answer questions," and attracted a crowd Monday, many of whom were for development in the 10-02 and many who were against the same.
"I am for ANWR development, because I have seen what it means to our country, to our state," said one testifier. "I grew up in Fairbanks before oil, and saw how poor we were."
Many others agreed with him, and said so.
"America will benefit from it too," said another. "We are one nation - let's help one another and fuel our future with development in ANWR."
Still, opposition to development was widespread as well, with many chiming in about why ANWR should not be opened to drilling.
"This is an intersectional, connected movement of human rights violations," said Christina Edwin, "environmental injustices, racism, colonization, neocolonialism, all wrapped up in the Bureau of Land Management."