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The North Slope

The North Slope is an area defined by the Brooks Range, accessible on the Dalton Highway.


The North Slope of Alaska is a region in the northernmost half of the state, bordered by the foothills of the Brooks Range to the south and the Arctic Ocean to the north. The region encompasses 89,000 square miles and has been recognized as an unparalleled place of beauty. It's relatively recent fame derives from the discovery of the largest oilfields in the nation and the ensuing controversy between industrialists and environmentalists. 


Over 20 different species of marine mammals live in this area including bowhead whales, polar bears and ringed seals; many land mammals including arctic fox, wolves, grizzlies and caribou; 135 species of migratory birds including geese and ducks; and over 30 land bird species including the woodpecker, grouse and snowy owl.


There are several ecosystems within the region: the Thaw Lake Plain which consists of numerous thaw lakes and drained lake basins; the Hilly Coastal Plain consisting of gently rolling hills and poorly developed ice-wedge polygons; the Foothills characterized by hills separated by drainage channels and the River Flood Plains, typified by barren deltas and braided river channels. The remaining area consists of alpine tundra.


There are many endangered and threatened species within this area, including the Eskimo Curlew, spectacled eider, American peregrine falcon, Aleutian Canadian goose, short tailed albatross, woodland caribou, marbled murrelet, steller sea lion, northern sperm whale, Chinook salmon, green sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle and Olive Ridley sea turtle.

 

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