21 October, 2005

Speaking of maps

Check out this cloak-and-dagger stuff. It combines everything I love most -- oil, maps, and greedy corporate schemes. The New York Times reports that the map of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is gone. It sure looks stolen to me, based on this report, though the goodnatured scientists at the US Geologic Survey would never suggest such a thing.
The 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 refuge.

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.

"People 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 thrown out."

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.


This gave me an aneurysm in the wee hours of the morning, and I was going to blog it, and my blogpost was not as family-friendly as it usually is, and then my computer crashed. I'm glad you blogged it instead. 

Posted by Saheli

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