In 2013, I bushwhacked 1,000 miles across the state of Alaska through the Arctic Brooks Range.
During the journey, I began hearing about a project to build a road from the Dalton Highway to the village of Ambler. A road that would cut across hundreds of miles of untouched tundra, wetlands, rivers and even Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. The road is being built to facilitate an open pit copper mine in an area that drains into the great Kobuk River.
The road would pass by seven villages and affect many more downstream, all of whom depend on the health of the land for survival. The proposed road falls along a crucial corridor for the Western Arctic Caribou herd and threatens the subsistence lifestyle in one of its last strongholds.
Through long distance hiking, I have been lucky enough to see nearly all of the wilderness areas that our country has left. I have seen that Alaska's Arctic is one of the very last truly wild places. The last place you can travel for weeks on end without seeing a fence, a piece of trash, or even a human footprint. I was shocked to hear that plans to build yet another road across it are even being considered. This road would put an end to a northern country livelihood and destroy one of the last remaining wild places in North America.
Over the summer of 2016, I joined a crew of 4 experienced filmmakers to travel a 350-mile route by packraft to visit the villages that would be affected by the proposed project. The filmmakers used their combined talents to produce photographs and a short film that will come out in 2017 called Paving Tundra. The goal is to bring awareness to the development of the road to Ambler.
The project is committed to capturing the authentic voice and accurate concerns of local communities especially from the villages of Allakaket/ Alatna, Bettles/Evansville, Shungnak, Kobuk and Ambler. These cultural and personal perspectives are critically necessary in the decision-making process of road construction.
Jamie Dittmar is a dog musher, filmmaker, photographer and graduate student living in the Alaska Range. She has been sled dog racing and traveling in the villages of the Interior for the last five years while directing her work to protect northern lands and livelihoods.
James 'Q' Martin grew up fishing and exploring the remote regions of Alaska. He is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker. Dedicated and passionate about local and international conservation efforts, he documents stories that address environmental issues facing communities throughout the world.
Tom Attwater is a photographer and filmmaker living in Missoula, Montana where he received his BFA in Digital Video Production from the University of Montana. When he's not behind a camera, he spends his time working as a river guide and backcountry instructor.
Lane Brown is a cinematographer from Missoula, Montana where he received his BFA in Digital Video Production from the University of Montana. His specialties include filming with a drone and zombie apocalypse survival.