The United States Congress designated the Mollie Beattie Wilderness (map
) in 1980 and it now has a total of 8,000,000 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Alaska
and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
No other region of America has seen less human impact than the northeastern corner of Alaska. Here the Brooks Range bulges up near the Arctic Ocean to create a unique combination of habitats, including arctic, subarctic, and alpine ecosystems. Approximately 200 miles by 200 miles, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge stretches down both sides of the Brooks Range here, occupying almost 20 million acres--the size of South Carolina. Peaks reaching 9,000 feet, the highest in the Brooks, look northward across rolling tundra cut by serpentine rivers and dotted with clusters of freshwater lakes. Farther north lie the barrier islands and saltwater lagoons of the Arctic Ocean. Southward the terrain drops from treeless mountains into broad conifer-and hardwood-covered valleys. By Arctic standards, the refuge’s mammal population is abundant: brown bears, moose, wolves, wolverines, and red foxes everywhere; Dall sheep and marmots in the high mountains; black bears, coyotes, lynx, porcupines, and beavers in the forestland; musk oxen and arctic foxes on the north slopes; polar bears on the ice pack; and the 110,000-member Porcupine caribou herd in winter in the southern portion. Beluga and bowhead whales migrate along the coast with ringed and bearded seals. Migratory birds flock here, some traveling all the way from Antarctica.