Scenes from the Arctic
When Malkolm Boothroyd, a talented young birder and photographer — and a committed advocate for birds and other wildlife — asked me in late 2017 if I would publish a photo essay featuring birds of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, I hesitated.
For starters, we’d published a great article in 2010 about the refuge by biologist David Shaw. But efforts to drill for oil in the refuge were in the headlines again, thanks to the GOP tax bill that included a provision for opening up the refuge’s coastal plain to the oil industry. I debated whether to accept Malkolm’s proposal for two other reasons: First, we know that people of all political beliefs read this magazine, and no matter whether they align with the red team or the blue team, they’d prefer not to read about politics in these pages. I get that; I’d prefer to stick to birds, too.
The second reason I paused is that you, our reader, might ask, “Why choose to cover the Arctic refuge when so many other threats exist?” It would be a fair question, but we have, in recent issues, written about the undermining of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the potential for a border wall to dissect the Santa Ana refuge in Texas.
After briefly mulling over reasons not to publish Malkolm’s photo essay, I realized that I’d be a fool to let it go. His photos are extraordinary, and they tell a compelling story. So, please turn to page 32 to view scenes from the Arctic refuge. I hope you’ll agree that Malkolm’s photos shine a light on this amazing place.
I’ll sign off with the words of the late conservationist Margaret Murie, who advocated for the establishment and later the expansion of the Arctic refuge: “I hope that the United States of America is not so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by. Or so poor that she cannot afford to keep them.”
Matt Mendenhall, editor
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