Significant Values of Gates of the Arctic

Setting sun shines through the Brooks Range

NPS/Carl Johnson

Park Purpose

The purpose of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is to preserve the vast, wild, undeveloped character and environmental integrity of Alaska's central Brooks Range and to provide opportunities for wilderness recreation and traditional subsistence uses.

Specifically, Section 201 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) states that the park shall be managed for the following purposes, among others:

  • To maintain the wild and undeveloped character of the area, including opportunities for visitors to experience solitude, and the natural environmental integrity and scenic beauty of the mountains, forelands, rivers, lakes, and other natural features;
  • to provide continued opportunities, including reasonable access, for mountain climbing, mountaineering, and other wilderness recreational activities;
  • and to protect habitat for and the populations of, fish and wildlife, including, but not limited to, caribou, grizzly bears, Dall's sheep, moose, wolves, and raptorial birds.
  • Subsistence uses by local residents shall be permitted in the park, where such uses are traditiional, in accordance with the provisions of title VIII.
A caribou on a mountainside with a river valley background

NPS/Ken Hill

A Proclamation

"Lying wholly north of the Arctic Circle, the Gates of the Arctic National Monument hereby created preserves an area containing a wide variety of interior arctic geological and biological forms. The essence of the geology of the area is its great diversity. There are excellent examples of glacial action which formed U-shaped valleys and morraine-dammed lakes.In contrast are the fissure-shaped precipices of Ernie Creek and the tilted limestone blocks along the northern edge of the Brooks Range.

Associated with these various land forms is a progression of ecosystems representing a continuum of communities from the boreal spruce forest and riparian shrub thickets in the south to the arctic tussock tundra in the north. These communities of plants and undisturbed animals offer excellent opportunities for study of natural interaction of the species.

The monument also protects a substantial portion of the habitat requirements for the Western Arctic caribou herd which uses ancient routes through the mountains for migration. This herd, which has suffered severe population losses recently, is of great value for the study of the population dynamics relating to both the decline and recovery of the herd.

The archaeological and historical significance of the area is demonstrated by the studies which have revealed evidence of human habitation for approximately 7,000 years. Several known traditional Athabascan-Inuit trade routes run through the monument area giving the promise of further important archaeological discoveries. In the Wiseman and Ernie's Cabin mining regions in the south are offered opportunities for historical study of the life of the Alaskan pioneer miner of the early twentieth century.

The land withdrawn and reserved by this Proclamation for the protection of the biological, geological, archaeological,historical, and other phenomena enumerated above supports now, as it has in the past, the unique subsistence culture of the local residents. The continued existence of this culture, which depends upon subsistence hunting, and its availability for study, enhance the historic and scientific values of the natural objects protected herein because of the ongoing interaction of the subsistence culture with those objects. Accordingly, the opportunity for local residents to engage in subsistence hunting is a value to be protected and will continue tinder the administration of the monument..."

-President Jimmy Carter
December 1, 1978

Last updated: August 29, 2017

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101 Dunkel St.
Suite 110

Fairbanks, AK 99701



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