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Tuesday, January 25, 2000

"The Last Wilderness Project" Subject of February 2 Presentation

SALISBURY, MD---"The Last Wilderness Project," an interactive multimedia program that focuses attention on threats to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is set for Wednesday, February 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Guerrieri University Center of Salisbury State University.

The student Environmental Studies Association is sponsoring the presentation by renowned wildlife photographer Lenny Kohm and Robert Kyikavichik of the Gwich'in Nation in Alaska, spokesmen for The Last Great Wilderness Project. "This is indeed a special event and we are genuinely excited about it," said Dr. James D. Hatley of the Philosophy Department and an adviser for the student association.

Kohm tours the United States warning people about oil development in northeastern Alaska that endangers more than 200,000 mammals, millions of birds and a Native American culture. His advocacy journeys began after he photographed the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for a national outdoor magazine in 1987. That assignment changed his life. Since then, Kohm has worked to help protect the native Gwich'in people by spreading the word about the refuge's crucial role in sustaining their way of life. SSU Professor William Horne has also spent time with the tribe. Kyikavichik, 26, was raised on this land by his Vuntut Gwich'in parents. He continues to use the refuge for hunting, trapping and fishing. Once his elders are taken care of, he hunts for himself. He is also active in the North Yukon Renewable Resource Council, an organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of natural resources.

The petroleum and natural gas industries are lobbying Congress to open the refuge for drilling. This pristine area is essential to the survival of wildlife, especially caribou herds that provide the Gwich'in with food, tools, shoes and clothing. "Development will devastate the wilderness," said Kohm. "Is it worth it to destroy the last complete ecosystem in North America and a thousands- of-years-old Native American culture for the remote chance of a tiny amount of oil?" The California free-lance photographer was so moved by his experiences that he and friends formed the Sonoma (CA) Coalition for the Arctic Refuge, created "The Last Great Wilderness" slide show and began touring the country to convince Americans of the need to stop development in this area.

This free, open-to-the-public, 60-minute program in the Wicomico Room of the Guerrieri Center is part of a Maryland tour from January 25-February 4. For additional information, call the SSU Public Relations Office at 410-543-6030.


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