NANFA-- Something to write letters about

Bruce Stallsmith (
Tue, 20 Mar 2001 10:39:50 -0500

Here's something to write to your elected representatives about. The
Department of the Interior seems to be purging public information that would
make drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge look like the
bad idea it is. The oil industry has begun exercising its direct control
over the executive branch of government in this country. Big surprise...

What follows is some chitchat about the purging of USGS web sites dealing
with arctic biology, and an edited (by me) statement from Ian Thomas who was
suddenly terminated from his job for posting these (now gone) sites.

--Bruce Stallsmith
Huntsville, AL
WASHINGTON--Last week, Ian Thomas posted a map on a U.S. government Web site
of the caribou calving areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an area
the Bush administration wants to open up for oil exploration.
This week, Thomas is looking for a new job.
"I'm really flabbergasted," Thomas said Wednesday. "After putting out 20,000
maps with no problem and then putting out one where baby caribou like to
hang out, I got fired." [...]
Government officials say he was fired for working outside of his assigned
duties. And besides, some of the map information was wrong.

Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2001 05:11:20 -0800 (PST)
From: Paul Bissex <
Subject: USGS employee fired after posting ANWR map (fwd)
Message-ID: <

Hi Declan,

A reasonable interpretation of these events, differing of course from the
official explanation, would be that this guy was fired because he was making
it more difficult for Bush to sell the idea of drilling in the Alaskan
National Wildlife Refuge.

A good reason to archive websites!
Hi All,

Well, I have been fired for posting to the internet a single web page with
some maps showing the distribution of caribou calving areas in the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

My entire website has now been removed
from the internet. This represents about 3 years worth of work and 20,000
plus maps showing bird, mammal and amphibian distributions, satellite
imagery, landcover and vegetation maps for countries and protected areas
all around of the globe. As far as I aware it was one of the biggest
collections of maps online and certainly the biggest collection showing maps
of biodiversity and the environment. The website was often visited by over a
thousand visitors each week. In addition, I was fulfilling roughly a dozen
requests for geospatial data and information from colleagues, other
researchers and the general public each day.

All of this comes as a rather big surprise to me. I was given no chance to
remove the webpage or even finish writing an appeal before my position was
terminated. I was working under a contract so I believe I have very little
legal recourse. I have received no written explanation (or even an email)
stating the exact reasons for the termination decision and I understand that
even though this would be a reasonable courtesy to expect, it is unlikely to
be forthcoming.