ANWR activists end trek to Washington, D.C.

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two activists who criss-crossed the country to rally opposition to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reached their goal.

Ken Madsen, a writer and photographer from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and Tim Leach, a freelance environmental educator, reached Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

The two started at opposite ends of the country with their road trips.

Madsen rode 3,450 miles from Seattle after starting Aug. 23. Leach started in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in early September and traveled 1,600 miles via bicycle and sea kayak through northeastern states.

The journeys were billed as the ''Walk to Washington.'' They were organized by the Caribou Commons Project, a collaboration between Native groups, artists and environmental groups that uses slide shows, lectures and multimedia presentations to spread its message.

The activists arrived just over a week after the general election put the U.S. Senate back on the road to Republican control. With a Republican in the White House and Republicans controlling the House, Congress may be more inclined to open the refuge's coastal plain to oil drilling, Leach said. Stopping such legislation ''will be a bit of a challenge,'' he said. He said activists have to focus on members of Congress from the Northeast.

''That's a stronghold we need to keep,'' he said.

Madsen said he found that Americans want to protect the refuge for its wilderness, its caribou calving grounds and its polar bear denning areas.

''People across the country still care about those values,'' Madsen said.

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