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  • Photo: Aaron Hitchins
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  • Photo: Remote Waters
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  • Photo: Aaron Hitchins
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Alaska's Brooks Range

Vast. Wild. Remote.
Just how we like it.

Located above the Arctic Circle, the Brooks Range is one of the most isolated regions of Alaska. This expansive and rugged terrain takes considerable effort to reach, and even more fortitude to explore. You don’t come here for a weekend.

  • You come to the Brooks Range when you want to float a scenic river through undisturbed boreal forest, alpine tundra and sweeping mountains for 10 days without seeing another group.
  • You come to the Brooks Range when you want to pursue iconic species that survived the ice age, like caribou, or are relatively unique, like sheefish.
  • You come to the Brooks Range when you want to push your limits, recalibrate yourself, or make lasting memories with people most important to you.

We must maintain a few special places where future generations of hunters and anglers can experience genuine solitude and carry forward our outdoor traditions. That’s why the hunt-fish community is speaking up to prevent the proposed Ambler Industrial Road, a risky proposal that threatens the very qualities that we value most about the Brooks Range.

Photo: Remote Waters

  • The Brooks Range is the northern-most mountain range in America. These ancient mountains span 700 miles across Alaska and Canada’s high Arctic. This vast region is one of the largest undeveloped areas remaining in the world, and it is home to some of Alaska’s finest fly-in hunting and fishing opportunities.

    Map Courtesy TRCP

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  • Our focus is the southern foothills of the Central Brooks Range, where developers are proposing to build a 211-mile industrial corridor to several economically uncertain mineral deposits. The proposed route would cut across important fish and wildlife habitat, including wetlands, alpine tundra, boreal forest, and nearly 3,000 streams and rivers.

    Map Courtesy TRCP

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  • Larry Bartlett
    The Brooks Range is home to 14 species of sport fish, including Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling, and trophy sheefish. Anglers enjoy fishing crystal clear holes in pristine, free-flowing rivers that support healthy populations and receive little fishing pressure.

    Photo: Larry Bartlett

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  • Hunters are drawn to the Brooks Range to pursue some of Alaska’s most iconic big game species, including moose, caribou, Dall sheep, grizzly, and black bear. Float hunts can be an effective way to hunt moose while enjoying ever-changing scenery.

    Photo: Jim Dau

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  • The Brooks Range supports over 22 species of migratory and upland game birds. The region is renowned for its waterfowl hunting opportunities, including Tundra swans, Sandhill cranes, White-fronted geese, and Northern pintail.

    Photo: Lew Pagel

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Brooks Range stories

Learn about the unique backcountry hunting and fishing opportunities at stake in the Brooks Range and meet stakeholders and advocates who oppose the Ambler Road on our blog.

See all Articles

BLM Poised to Deny Permit for Industrial Corridor That Threatens World-Class Hunting and Fishing in Alaska’s Brooks Range

April 19, 2024

Hunters and anglers cheer important milestone to maintain America’s most wild and remote hunting and fishing grounds

Brooks Range Voices: Lewis Pagel

April 18, 2024

The Northwest Arctic hunter and sheefish ice fishing guide shares how special the Brooks Range is and why he believes the proposed Ambler Road would negatively affect fish, wildlife, and the Alaskan way of life

Brooks Range Voices: Kelly Reynolds

April 16, 2024

The lifelong Alaskan and backcountry aficionado shares her love for the Brooks Range and why she believes it’s the duty of hunters and anglers to safeguard this region’s wild country and wildlife from the proposed Ambler Road

WHAT’S AT STAKE

WORLD-CLASS HUNTING AND FISHING

From pursuing an Arctic grizzly to hooking a trophy sheefish, the Brooks Range offers unique hunting and fishing opportunities that you have to truly earn.  

The very qualities that hunters and anglers value the most about the Brooks Range—the unbroken expansiveness, the lack of human activity, the unmatched solitude—are simply incompatible with a major industrial access corridor designed to help foreign mining companies develop a remote mining district.  

The Ambler Industrial Road could also result in fewer hunting and fishing opportunities by heightening tensions over the allocation of wildlife resources—especially if the project’s adverse impacts contribute to the decline of key game species. 

Photo: Aaron Hitchins

  • After a week or two on the river, my clients certainly marvel at the fishing, but also the beauty of the Brooks Range, and the opportunity they get to settle into the rhythm and quiet that is so hard to find other places, even in Alaska. There is no question that the Ambler Road would degrade the remote wildness that makes the area so special.

    Greg Halbach
    Owner and lead guide, Remote Waters
    Anchorage, AK
  • If we maintain the wild character of the Brooks Range, this incredible place will maintain its intrinsic value for future generations of hunters and anglers. Let’s not risk that enduring legacy for potential short-term gains. If sportsmen are clear and unwavering, we can convince the BLM to deny the right-of-way for the Ambler Road

    Jen Leahy
    Alaska program manager, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
    Anchorage, AK
  • What’s at stake is the reward. The thought of a road crossing this landscape makes me question where the line exists between industry and politics. We have to agree to keep this place wild.

    Larry Bartlett
    Owner and hunt planner, Pristine Ventures
    Fairbanks, AK
  • Wilderness float trips

    Float trips near the proposed corridor—including the scenic Kobuk and Koyukuk watersheds—would be severely impacted by road construction and persistent noise from industrial traffic that would be heard for miles. 

    Photo: Remote Waters

  • Western Arctic Caribou Herd

    The industrial corridor would partially bisect the migratory area and winter range for one of Alaska’s largest caribou herds, which would likely result in behavioral disturbances and could ultimately result in less hunting opportunity for all users.

    Photo: Ryan Sapena

  • Trophy Sheefish

    This unique species—dubbed “tarpon of the north”—is a coveted catch species for adventurous anglers. There are less than a dozen known sheefish spawning areas in Alaska, and several of them could be impacted directly by road construction or toxic spills.  

    PHOTO: Remote Waters

  • Recreation Economy

    The Bureau of Land Management determined in its final environmental review that “the reputation of the region as a whole would be changed” by the Ambler Road, with an economic impact on pilots, guides, transporters, and lodge operators.  

    Photo: Aaron Hitchins

The Proposed Ambler Industrial Road

STATUS // The Bureau of Land Management collected public comments in late 2023 and issued its final environmental analysis of the project in April 2024. The agency has concluded that there is no way to adequately mitigate the potential impacts of any version of the proposed Ambler road. A final permitting decision is expected later this year.

PHOTO: RED DOG MINE, NORTHWEST ALASKA

RISKS OUTWEIGH REWARDS

The 211-mile industrial corridor would connect the Dalton Highway with several economically uncertain mineral deposits where foreign-owned mining companies hope to develop at least four open-pit mines. Collectively, the four primary mineral deposits would span approximately 400,000 acres in addition to the Ambler Road’s footprint.

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The private industrial access road would be closed to the public.

If approved, the Ambler Road would be financed through the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), a publicly-funded development bank. In theory, the project cost ($1.4 billion) would be paid back through tolls paid by the mining companies. In reality, it is unclear whether the mineral resources in the area are economically feasible due to the quality and quantity of the deposits, increases in construction costs, and the variability of global markets.

Mining companies plan to ship ore concentrates produced in the Brooks Range to East Asia and elsewhere for refining, so the Ambler Road would not significantly improve our nation’s mineral independence.

One thing is clear: The risks of the proposed Ambler Industrial Road far outweigh any potential benefits, especially for people who want to maintain the world-class hunting and fishing opportunities that the Brooks Range is renowned for.

Satellite image: Maxar Technologies

The road and the mines together would substantially alter the recreation environment along the southern Brooks Range.

BLM, Final Environmental Impact Statement, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who wants to build the Ambler Road?

    The proponent of this project is the Alaska Industrial Development & Export Authority (AIDEA), a publicly-funded corporation with a concerning history of subsidizing large, risky projects that have performed poorly. Since it funded its first project 35 years ago, AIDEA has received a net total of $301 million of public money from the State of Alaska, while AIDEA’s development projects have lost $233.3 million.

    The Ambler Road is AIDEA’s latest attempt to heavily subsidize a megaproject that would primarily benefit outside interests—in this case, Canadian and Australian mining companies and East Asian refineries.

    There is no good reason to tear up the remote Brooks Range when more economically viable prospects exist with fewer impacts to important habitat.

  • How many mines would be built if the proposed Ambler Road were to be authorized?

    The BLM determined that, at a minimum, the four leading prospects in the Ambler Mining District would be developed with a combination of open-pit and underground mining.

    According to the BLM, the open-pit mines could each be nearly one mile across and with tailings areas up to 1.5 miles long and 0.75 mile wide. Along with the mines would come traffic dust, spur roads, air strips, bright lights, and industrial buildings housing up to 1,000 workers.

    One of the most concerning aspects of this project is that a maximum mining scenario has not been established. Without knowing how many large mines could be built in the region as a result of the Ambler industrial corridor, it is impossible to properly evaluate the cumulative impacts of the project on fish, wildlife, and people.

  • Would this project strengthen America’s domestic mineral independence?

    In short, no. A mineral is deemed “critical” if it is “essential to the economic or national security of the U.S.” and if it has “a supply chain that is vulnerable to disruption.”

    The primary identified mineral resources in the district include copper, lead, zinc, silver, and gold (DOWL, 2016). These minerals can be mined in larger quantities in other U.S. states and/or in allied countries, in areas that have fewer adverse impacts to world-class hunting and fishing opportunities than the Brooks Range.

    Of the primary identified minerals, only zinc is currently listed as a critical mineral by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The biggest vulnerability with many domestic supply chains is a lack of refining capability in the U.S. and allied countries. Sourcing minerals from a remote region in the Northwest Arctic—far from any refining facilities—does nothing to address this issue. The mining company plans to ship the zinc concentrate to “East Asia” for refining.

  • What do local people think about this project?

    In Alaska, opposition to the proposed Ambler Road continues to build across the political spectrum as people learn more about this issue. Rural residents who live near the project area are particularly concerned about the likely adverse impacts to their subsistence ways of life. There are standing resolutions opposing the Ambler Road from 95 Alaska Native Tribes. Many business owners in the region—including guides, outfitters and transporters—also oppose the project because of the negative potential impacts to their outdoor recreation businesses.

The Scope of the project

2,900+ Culverts

211 Miles

$1.4 Billion Total Cost

Projected Peak Daily Traffic

Up to 168 trips on the proposed Ambler Road
Up to 238 additional trips per day on the Dalton Hwy 

Access

Private industrial road. No public access.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who wants to build the Ambler Road?

    The proponent of this project is the Alaska Industrial Development & Export Authority (AIDEA), a publicly-funded corporation with a concerning history of subsidizing large, risky projects that have performed poorly. Since it funded its first project 35 years ago, AIDEA has received a net total of $301 million of public money from the State of Alaska, while AIDEA’s development projects have lost $233.3 million.

    The Ambler Road is AIDEA’s latest attempt to heavily subsidize a megaproject that would primarily benefit outside interests—in this case, Canadian and Australian mining companies and East Asian refineries.

    There is no good reason to tear up the remote Brooks Range when more economically viable prospects exist with fewer impacts to important habitat.

  • How many mines would be built if the proposed Ambler Road were to be authorized?

    The BLM determined that, at a minimum, the four leading prospects in the Ambler Mining District would be developed with a combination of open-pit and underground mining.

    According to the BLM, the open-pit mines could each be nearly one mile across and with tailings areas up to 1.5 miles long and 0.75 mile wide. Along with the mines would come traffic dust, spur roads, air strips, bright lights, and industrial buildings housing up to 1,000 workers.

    One of the most concerning aspects of this project is that a maximum mining scenario has not been established. Without knowing how many large mines could be built in the region as a result of the Ambler industrial corridor, it is impossible to properly evaluate the cumulative impacts of the project on fish, wildlife, and people.

  • Would this project strengthen America’s domestic mineral independence?

    In short, no. A mineral is deemed “critical” if it is “essential to the economic or national security of the U.S.” and if it has “a supply chain that is vulnerable to disruption.”

    The primary identified mineral resources in the district include copper, lead, zinc, silver, and gold (DOWL, 2016). These minerals can be mined in larger quantities in other U.S. states and/or in allied countries, in areas that have fewer adverse impacts to world-class hunting and fishing opportunities than the Brooks Range.

    Of the primary identified minerals, only zinc is currently listed as a critical mineral by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The biggest vulnerability with many domestic supply chains is a lack of refining capability in the U.S. and allied countries. Sourcing minerals from a remote region in the Northwest Arctic—far from any refining facilities—does nothing to address this issue. The mining company plans to ship the zinc concentrate to “East Asia” for refining.

  • What do local people think about this project?

    In Alaska, opposition to the proposed Ambler Road continues to build across the political spectrum as people learn more about this issue. Rural residents who live near the project area are particularly concerned about the likely adverse impacts to their subsistence ways of life. There are standing resolutions opposing the Ambler Road from 95 Alaska Native Tribes. Many business owners in the region—including guides, outfitters and transporters—also oppose the project because of the negative potential impacts to their outdoor recreation businesses.