*NEWS*U.S. ARCTIC MAP VANISHES ?
*NEWS*U.S. ARCTIC MAP VANISHES ?
2005-10-21 at 11:44:00 am #14123
Arctic Map Vanishes, and Oil Area Expands
Oct. 05 – Maps matter. They chronicle the struggles of empires and
zoning boards. They chart political compromise. So it was natural for
Republican Congressional aides, doing due diligence for what may be the
last battle in the fight over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to
ask for the legally binding 1978 map of the refuge and its coastal
It was gone. No map, no copies, no digitized version.
wall-size 1:250,000-scale map delineated the tundra in the biggest
national land-use controversy of the last quarter-century, an area that
environmentalists call America’s Serengeti and that oil enthusiasts see
as America’s Oman.
The map had been stored behind a filing cabinet
in a locked room in Arlington, Va. Late in 2002, it was there. In early
2003, it disappeared. There are just a few reflection-flecked
photographs to remember it by.
All this may have real consequences.
The United States Geological Survey drew up a new map. On Wednesday,
the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee passed a measure based on the
new map that opened to drilling 1.5 million acres of coastal plain in
The missing map did not seem to include in the coastal
plain tens of thousands of acres of Native Alaskans’ lands. On the new
map, those lands were included, arguably making it easier to open them
to energy development.
The measure is scheduled to be in the budget reconciliation bill to be voted on next month.
have asked me several times, ‘Do you think someone took this
intentionally?’ ” said Doug Vandegraft, the cartographer for the Fish
and Wildlife Service who was the last known person to see the old map.
“I hope to God not. So few people knew about it. I’m able to sleep at
night because I don’t think it was maliciously taken. I do think it was
Mr. Vandegraft said he had folded the map in half,
cushioned within its foam-board backing, and put it behind the filing
cabinet in the locked room for safekeeping.
He said he was
distraught when he learned of the loss. In its place in the original
nook, he said, he found a new, folded piece of foam board similar to
the old one – but with no map attached.
“I felt sick to my stomach,” he said. “I queried everyone here. I think people could tell that I was angry about it.”
No one admitted knowing what had happened.
“It infuriated me,” he said. “It was in no one’s way. Why would someone take it on themselves to say no one needs this?
“No one knew where the foam-core boards came from.”
implications of the contours on the new map, at least for the native
lands, are in dispute. Some people argue that the native owners, the
Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation, which controls much of the surface rights
to the land, and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, which controls
the mineral rights, would be able to offer energy leases no matter
where the lines are drawn, as soon as Congress opens the plain.
legislative counsel of the Interior Department, Jane M. Lyder, did not
go quite that far, but did say the new map might make the question moot.
“It’s a very circular kind of thing,” Ms. Lyder said. “Changing the line on the map makes it a lot easier.”
addition, she said, the inclusion of the native lands within the
coastal plain ensures that they will be covered by the bill’s
requirement that no more than 2,000 acres of the plain be used for
drilling platforms, airstrips, roads and other surface disturbances. By
including the native lands in the plain, any work there would count to
the 2,000-acre limit, she said.
Mr. Vandegraft, the cartographer, said the experience had changed his habits.
“Anything I considered historic, we scanned them and took them to the National Archives,” he said.