As we drove along Denali Highway from Paxson where we camped, we crossed the Tangle Lakes Archaeological district. Artifacts from pit-houses to hand-fashioned stone tools date back 10,000 years. Athapaskan caribou hunters used trails that gold miners used a hundred years ago and hikers use today.
Pure Nickel Inc has laid mining claims across federal and state lands in the Tangle Lakes region. A campaign is underway to create a state wildlife refuge to protect the Tangle Lakes watershed from mining. The map and basic case for protection can be found at savetanglelakes.org.
Generally, Alaska regulates large mining enterprises well. One big problem is the thousands of small claims that may be mineral exploration or may be tax-free vacation homes.
But the Tangle Lakes campaign seeks to preserve land just north of the Denali Highway for wildlife and for human enjoyment.