The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska sounds more like a place where our nation refuels their gas tanks than some of the most wild and remote public lands left in North America. At 23.5 million acres, the reserve comprises the largest unprotected tract of public land in the United States. Its wilderness values are second to none, and the it includes vital habitat areas that support fish and wildlife resources of local, national and global significance.
I have visited the reserve three times on rafting, hiking and photography trips. These adventures recalibrated my understanding of what wilderness means and why it is …