Latin: Calidris alpina
The Western Arctic abounds with birds and other wildlife.
Dunlin. Photo: Pat Ulrich
Alaska’s Western Arctic is arguably the most remote land area in the United States. Alaska’s North Slope Borough is similar in size to the State of California, yet has less than 10,000 residents. The area boasts extraordinary wildlife and is the home of Alaska Native people who’ve been present in the area for thousands of years.
The coastal plain is one of the largest wetland complexes in the circumpolar Arctic, attracting a globally significant abundance of waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors, earning the name “America’s Bird Basket.” Birds from the Western Arctic disperse along all four major flyways of the United States, as well as to Asia and beyond. A cohort of iconic Arctic mammals gather here, including caribou, muskoxen, and polar bears.
This is also an area of major oil, gas, and coal resources. Central to the region is the 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve—Alaska (NPR-A).