Assistant Secretary Strickland Hosts Kick-off Celebration for 50th Anniversary of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Last edited 09/29/2021

ANCHORAGE, AK -- Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland today hosted a kick-off event for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that will feature an hour-long documentary film, a traveling photo exhibit, and other events both in Alaska and across the country.

“The creation of the Arctic National Wildlife Range in 1960 is one of the milestones in the history of American conservation,” Strickland said. “As a people, we made the unprecedented decision to set aside a vast area of beautiful mountains, plains, rivers and streams and conserve it forever as a natural treasure, a place where the relentless cycles of nature will continue undisturbed for generations to come.”

In the 1950s, a group of visionary conservationists, led by Olaus and Margaret Murie, launched a seven-year campaign to establish the nation's first ecosystem-scale conservation area. On December 6, 1960, the Arctic Refuge was established for the purpose of “preserving unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values.”

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, the Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with partners to increase understanding and appreciation of the Arctic Refuge and the importance of national wildlife refuges everywhere.

Projects and events planned for the anniversary celebration include:

• America's Wildest Refuge: Discovering the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is an hour-long, high-definition video documentary. With sweeping views of the Arctic Refuge and its wildlife and interviews with those who know it best, America's Wildest Refuge is an ecological and historical portrait of a majestic place and those who have worked to protect it. A trailer can be found on YouTube.

• Wild Legacy—This original stage production is based on the collected writings of Olaus and Margaret Murie, who were instrumental in the establishment of the Arctic Refuge. Commissioned by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Wild Legacy is produced by the Memphis, Tennessee-based theatre company Voices of the South. The play honors those who made establishment of the refuge possible and celebrates the experiences visitors are still able to enjoy 50 years later because of this “wild legacy.” Learn more about Wild Legacy at

• Arctic Sanctuary: Images of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This exhibit includes large-scale photos and interpretive text. Photographer Jeff Jones' work conveys a sense of the scope, significance and stunning beauty of the Arctic Refuge while Laurie Hoyle's words combine to engage the viewer in a contemplative exploration of the refuge. A book, published by the University of Alaska Press, features more than 150 of his Arctic Refuge photographs as well as Laurie's essays. View photos from the Arctic Sanctuary exhibit at

• A Sense of the Refuge. This five-panel exhibit describes the history, geography, biology, climate and the special significance of the refuge as well as its impacts on people

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