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But many people living closest to the potential development -- many of them Doyon shareholders -- oppose the plan because of the likelihood of oil pollution and the possibility of social upheaval such as a flow of drugs, alcohol and poachers over new roads."Usually, the indigenous people are at the losing end of any sort of oil development," said Dacho Alexander, first chief of the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich'in Tribe in Fort Yukon, a village of 600 near the proposed exchange parcels. Alexander said the dispute illustrates the perennial clash between corporate goals and noneconomic Native values. The Yukon Flats basin holds an estimated 173 million barrels of oil -- accounting for less than nine days of U.S. consumption at current rates -- along with 5.5 trillion cubic feet of gas and 127 million barrels of natural-gas liquids, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It also holds unique ecological values. Straddling the Arctic Circle, cradled by two mountain ranges and bisected by the Yukon River, the refuge encompasses boreal forests that support moose, grizzly and black bears and many other mammals. Its network of lakes, streams, ponds and sloughs attract Alaska's highest concentrations of breeding ducks. It has some of Alaska's coldest winter days and, thanks to around-the-clock sunlight, scorching summer temperatures as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest for this latitude in North America. Fran Mauer, a retired Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and prominent critic of the land exchange, says the trade plan violates the refuge's conservation mission. "I just don't see that it's in the public's interest to do it," he said. But Doyon officials say that no matter what land the corporation ends up owning, oil and gas drilling is inevitable in the Yukon Flats. "Even if the land trade doesn't happen, Doyon is still going to move forward with exploration out there," Phillips said. (Reporting by Yereth Rosen; editing by Jim Marshall)
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