Good thing it wasn’t a 700′ earthen dam holding back a few cubic miles of tailings at the headwaters of a massive sockeye system…but that would never happen, right?
Good thing it wasn’t a 700′ earthen dam holding back a few cubic miles of tailings at the headwaters of a massive sockeye system…but that would never happen, right?
Yellowstone Lake, and the network of tributaries that feed it, were once home to an estimated 4 million Yellowstone cutthroat trout. That was only a few decades ago. This YCT population is now determined to be less than 10% of historical numbers.
Lake trout, irresponsibly introduced into Yellowstone Lake in the 1980′s, have decimated the native cutthroat population. As if this isn’t enough, greater impacts are now also being documented. The reduction in cutthroat numbers, combined with the fact that lake trout tend to be a deepwater species for most of the year, have resulted in significant impacts on other native species that depend on the cutthroat as an important food source – eagles, osprey, bears, otters and more.
Sitting by and allowing the collapse of Yellowstone cutthroat in Yellowstone National Park – a keystone species of our nation’s flagship national park – would be a failure of unforgivable proportions. But there is hope.
In 2011, 220,000 lake trout were netted out of Yellowstone Lake. So far this season, the count is already approaching 200,000. Spawning beds are being identified and will be targeted for egg eradication. Lake trout are being tagged and their movements throughout the lake are being tracked.
There are plenty of places to fish for lakers. Yellowstone Park, where they are not native, and where they are destroying an already threatened native fish, doesn’t need to be one of them.
We can do this.
To learn more and help support the cause:
Dear International Fly Tackle Dealer Show,
First, I have to give credit where credit is due – a huge amount of energy goes into creating and supporting this show every year, and for this I have to give you kudos. It is a high-profile event that showcases our beloved sport, or at least the gear that fuels the sales that fuels the industry of our beloved sport.
But here is where I am increasingly scratching my head – you seem to be honestly concerned, and puzzled, about why there isn’t more retailer involvement and attendance at IFTD. From my perspective, on the other hand, working for a major fly shop/outfitter, I truly don’t understand how the reasons could be any more obvious. But since there seems to be continuing confusion around this, I thought I’d take a moment to explain why I lamentably won’t be attending.
1) August. Really? One of our busiest months of the entire year, and I think I’m probably speaking for the majority of shops around the country when I say this (saltwater locations notwithstanding). If IFTD was held in October, heck – even late September, I’d be more than happy to attend. But the middle of August?!? Let’s be honest. There is only one reason IFTD is held at this time of year – because it’s what a small group of highly influential manufacturers wants, and retailers be damned. If you want to know why IFTD is dying a death of a thousand cuts, start not with a lack of retailer involvement (which is really only a symptom, not the cause), and instead look at the stubborn and self-absorbed dictates of this small group of manufacturers.
2) Unveiling Next Year’s Products in the Middle of the Current Season. One of the key functions of IFTD is for manufacturers to unveil new products for next year. However, as a shop that sells these products, we are still in the middle of our peak season in August, trying to dutifully sell product for this year. Honestly – do you think it helps us as a retailer when we are still trying to sell this year’s products (hopefully at full price) in the middle of our season, and you’re already unveiling next year’s new schwag, letting consumers know what will be discontinued/replaced, etc? Again, if the manufacturers would simply wait until the current season is at least winding down for the majority of us, this would make our jobs a lot easier. But again, this just reinforces the perception that when it comes to IFTD, what actually works for retailers is not a real priority.
3) Demonstrated Value. As noted above, you’re asking retailers to take time away from their shops in what is, for most of us, the busiest part of our season. By the time that we fly two of our staff to a distant location, cover hotel rooms, bar tabs, meals, and sundry other expenses (and cover for a staffing shortage in the shop back home for 5 days during our peak), we are probably looking at a several thousand dollar expense, or more, depending on the locale. Am I, as a retailer, getting a real return that at least meets my investment on this? Am I gaining valuable information I wouldn’t obtain otherwise, without such an expense? Nothing so far has convinced me that this is the case, and these are the hard pragmatic decisions that I have to make, not being blessed with an infinite budget. I’ll go ahead and say it – I think IFTD has failed miserably at demonstrating a return on investment for retailers.
Sure, IFTD is a great party and a fun time to catch up with friends and meet new ones. And the Film Fest is always a good time. And undoubtedly, some useful networking happens at IFTD. Trust me – I would really love to attend. But the only conclusion that I can come to is that retailer presence is simply not a priority for IFTD, or else the reasons cited above wouldn’t continue to be ignored. Otherwise, it amounts to not much more than some pretty costly socializing, during a time of year when I’ve got a lot of work to do, in what I continue to believe (perhaps naively) is the real heart of the industry – an independent fly shop and outfitter.
And so, in the meantime, I can’t help but continue to shake my head and laugh whenever I hear industry insiders trading ideas on how to “fix” IFTD. Did anyone bother to ask us, the retailers? Or truly take our responses seriously? Because I can tell you, it’s never been a mystery to most of the fellow retailers I’ve talked to. It’s simple – make it work for us, and show us the value, and we’ll be there. Otherwise, continue IFTD on the path it’s on, and best of luck. But please, don’t feign puzzlement if and when it goes the way of the dodo.
From what I understand, there will be exactly one chance for a Lower-48 public hearing on the EPA Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, and that chance is next Thursday, May 31.
Jackson Federal Building, North Auditorium
915 Second Ave, Seattle, WA
Thursday May 31 at 2pm
Save the Date, Fisha.
More info HERE.
After a few hiccups, fits, and false starts, the EPA has finally released the Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment Report.
No surprise, but as it turns out, digging a huge fucking hole in the headwaters plain of several anadromous streams isn’t really a good idea when viewed against the background of the world’s largest sockeye fishery.
Some key findings:
The rivers of Bristol Bay support the world’s largest sockeye salmon runs (46% of the “global abundance” of sockeye) and its Chinook runs are near the world’s largest every year.
All five species of North American Pacific salmon are found in Bristol Bay. The Bristol Bay watershed supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world.
The Kvichak River produces more sockeye salmon than any other river in the world.
The Nushagak River is the fourth largest producer of Chinook salmon in North America.
Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery and other ecological resources provide at least 14,000 full and part-time jobs and is valued at about $480 million annually.
The average annual run of sockeye salmon is about 37.5 million fish.
Bristol Bay provides habitat for numerous animal species, including 35 fish species, more than 190 bird species and 40 animal species.
Aaaaaand a key excerpt:
“Based on this mine scenario, we conclude that, at a minimum, mining at this scale would cause the loss of spawning and rearing habitat for multiple species of anadromous and resident fish. A mine footprint of this scale would likely result in the direct loss of 87.5 to 141.4 km of streams and 10.2 to 17.3 km2 of wetlands. Additionally, water withdrawals for mine operations would significantly diminish habitat quality in an additional 2 to 10 km of streams. Assuming no significant accidents or failures, the development and routine operation of one large-scale mine would result in significant impacts on fish populations in streams surrounding the mine site. Accidents, process failures, and infrastructure failures could increase the spatial scale and severity of mining impacts on fish populations. Potential accidents include
(1) the release of acid, metal, and other contaminants from the mine site, waste rock piles, and tailings storage facilities (TSFs)
(2) the failure of roads, culverts, and pipelines in the transportation corridor, including spills of copper concentrate
(3) the catastrophic failure of a tailings dam.
Although precise estimates of the probabilities of failure occurrence cannot be made, evidence from the long-term operation of similar large mines suggests that, over the life span of a large mine, at least one or more accidents or failures could occur, potentially resulting in immediate, severe impacts on salmon and detrimental, long-term impacts on salmon habitat and production.”
While the EPA makes no pronouncements or decisions through this document, one fact becomes very clear in reading through the document:
The job of convincing the Obama Administration to take action before January 20, 2013, now begins in earnest. Please take 5 minutes and fill out This Online Action Letter and ask the President to initiate the Clean Water Act process that will enable EPA to limit industrial scale mining in Bristol Bay. Ask your friends and family to do the same.
Shout outs to Trout Unlimited’s Tim Bristol and Shoren Brown for kicking more ass in a few years than most men in a lifetime. Respect to all the folks watching out for Bristol Bay, and thanks for your continued efforts.
They won’t go unnoticed, fisha.
By Former Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) – 04/16/12 01:00 PM ET
We live in a time where jobs don’t exactly grow on trees, but in Alaska, it is fair to say that jobs grow on rivers. The Bristol Bay economy is threatened by the prospects of two foreign mining companies seeking to begin mining in the area, and it is up to Alaskans to protect their own economy.
Bristol Bay is legendary for sportsmen from across our great country. The sport fishing industry in Bristol Bay alone generates $65 million annually and supports more than 800 permanent jobs within the local community. Every year more than 60,000 visitors travel to the region for recreational opportunities. They come to absorb the scenic views, fish, hunt, and study the wildlife. These folks buy plane tickets, stay in local lodging, hire tour guides, purchase gear from local supply stores, and enjoy the local cuisine.
But all of what I have just talked about would be threatened by the creation of the Pebble Mine. The advocates for the mine suggest it will add jobs to the region, but fail to recognize that the mine’s presence could jeopardize an entire industry.
At its core, the issue is simple. The proposed Pebble Mine would be built at the headwaters of two rivers that feed Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska. The site contains a low-grade deposit of gold, copper, and molybdenum. Over its lifetime, the mine could produce up to 10 billion tons of toxic waste, which would be stored forever behind a series of dams in an area prone to earthquakes. If even trace amounts of this waste seep into the Bristol Bay watershed, much of the fishery and other wildlife could be seriously threatened.
The EPA has a rare opportunity to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to issue a narrow 404c ruling to protect local jobs and fishing habitats in Bristol Bay. The agency is currently undergoing a watershed assessment, which will be out in the coming weeks. If the EPA finds that Bristol Bay’s resources would be adversely affected by the enormous scale of the Pebble Mine, it could block the required federal dredge and fill permit.
The dangers posed to Bristol Bay are clear and abundant. Can science and engineering eliminate the risks posed by the Pebble Mine to Alaska’s economy? If the answer is yes, the mine’s backers should show how in a clear and unquestionable manner. If the answer is no, then mining companies shouldn’t be forced to throw away their capital needlessly.
I support protecting the current Bristol Bay economy and the environment at the same time. If a conservative Republican from North Carolina with a lifetime rating of 11% from the League of Conservation Voters can fight for this issue, I hope you can too!
Robin Hayes is a former Republican Congressman from North Carolina and current Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party. He is frequent visitor to Alaska’s Bristol Bay, where he stays at Brian Kraft’s Alaska Sportsman Lodges. Kraft is one of 40 sportsmen from 17 states in Washington, DC this week to express their support for protecting Bristol Bay and its watershed from the Pebble Mine.
Lifted in its entirety from The Hill’s “Congress Blog”.
“I’m the guy next door with the ugly lawn. Yeah, it’s small and I should probably do something with it , but you can suck it because I know where my water comes from…”
Trout Unlimited, Alaska Program Director
Fact: The Forest Service spends roughly $25 million annually on its timber program in the Tongass National forest, which supports about 200 jobs. By contrast, watershed restoration annually accounts for some $1.5 million spent in the Tongass.
Fact: The salmon and trout of the Tongass National Forest – through commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries – contribute roughly $1 billion annually to the economy of Southeast Alaska and employ some 7,300 people either directly or indirectly.
Fact: Many scientists agree the key to maintaining the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the Tongass National Forest is to protect the region’s high-value salmon-producing watersheds – entire drainages that stretch from ridge top to ridge top and from river headwaters to river mouths.
Fact: Despite the natural richness of the Tongass National Forest, some 65 percent of Tongass salmon and trout spawning and rearing habitat is not Congressionally protected at the watershed scale, and is currently open to development activities that could harm fish.
Researchers from the Alaska offices of the Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited used state-of-the-art GIS and conservation planning software to identify the watersheds they consider the “best of the best” for salmon and trout habitat from the hundreds of Tongass watersheds not currently protected at the watershed scale. The 77 high-value watersheds they identified, comprising some 1.8 million acres, are currently open to development. Based on their outstanding fish habitat, the highest and best use of these “Tongass 77” watersheds should be for the production of salmon and trout.
At present, no-harvest buffers of 100 feet minimum are required on all larger Tongass anadromous streams (Class I and II). Additionally, about 35 percent of salmon and trout habitat is protected at the watershed scale on about 35 percent of the land base of the Tongass National Forest. The “Tongass 77″ high-value salmon and trout watersheds cover about 11 percent of the Tongass land base, but represent almost 22 percent of the total available salmon and trout habitat of the Tongass National Forest.
We know how development and unsustainable logging practices affect salmon and trout habitat. From California to Northern BC, we have seen the effects of watershed development undertaken with wild salmon and trout viewed as a resource not to be worked around and protected, but to be mitigated against, almost as an afterthought. The time has come to place salmon and trout conservation and restoration higher on the priority list. Trout Unlimited Alaska, along with a small but growing coalition of folks, is pushing to gain durable federal watershed-scale conservation measures for 77 watersheds deemed the “best of the best” in terms of spawning and rearing habitat for wild salmon and trout in the Tongass National Forest. In addition, a group of Alaska commercial fishermen, anglers, guides, naturalists and tour operators will be in Washington, D.C., this week (March 5th-9th) to advocate for more conservation and restoration of fish habitat in the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. Read the press release here.
Each year, abundant wild salmon runs return from the ocean to Tongass streams to spawn and die. In this process, these fish bring nutrients from the productive North Pacific Ocean to the much less nutrient-rich land. Because the ecosystems of the area are sustained by the annual salmon returns, the Tongass National Forest is literally “America’s Salmon Forest.”
Read more about America’s Salmon Forest and the “Tongass 77″ at www.americansalmonforest.org
Threat to thousands of sustainable fishing jobs prompts fisherman, Alaska Natives to take their story to the Lower 48 beginning Oct. 17;
Tour will highlight proposed Pebble mine’s threat to fishing jobs, Native way of life
Seattle – Alaska Natives, commercial fishermen, sportsmen and seafood processors are heading south on the Save Bristol Bay Road Show to raise awareness and build support for protecting Bristol Bay Alaska, which is threatened by the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine.
The mine, potentially three times as large as the largest current mine in North America, would threaten the headwaters of Bristol Bay, putting thousands of fishing jobs at risk, along with a Native way of life that has existed for centuries. The real gold in Bristol Bay is the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, a sustainable resource that returns year after year.
In six cities, commercial fishermen, Alaska Natives, sportsmen and seafood processors will highlight the economic risks posed by the mine. The Road Show will also feature a screening of the award-winning documentary, “Red Gold,” delicious Bristol Bay sockeye prepared by local chefs, and locally produced beers.
Melanie Brown, an Alaska Native and commercial fisherwoman, and Ben Blakey, of family-run seafood company, Snopac Products, will travel to all of the cities as featured speakers, sharing the importance of the region as an economic engine, source of jobs, and resource for food. In each city, the program will also feature sportsmen, fishing guides or commercial fishermen, whose livelihoods depend on the clean waters and sustainable fish runs of Bristol Bay. More than 12,000 jobs depend on the commercial salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, along with more than 1,000 jobs related to sport fishing and countless other businesses.
The Save Bristol Bay Road Show visits the following six cities:
Seattle: Monday, October 17, Leif Erikson Lodge, 7 p.m.
Portland: Wednesday, October 19, Bagdad Theater, 7 p.m.
Corvallis: Friday, October 21, The Arts Center, 7 p.m.
San Francisco: Monday, October 24, Temple Nightclub, 7 p.m.
Santa Fe: Tuesday, October 25, Center For Contemporary Arts Cinematheque, 7 p.m.
Denver: Thursday, October 27, Oriental Theater, 7 p.m.
For information, please visit: www.savebristolbay.org/roadshow
The Save Bristol Bay Road Show is coordinated by the Save Bristol Bay campaign, part of a broad, bipartisan, national coalition that supports protecting Bristol Bay and its natural resources from the severe risks of massive-scale development, including the Pebble Mine.
The Road Show is sponsored by the generous support of companies including Tiffany & Co., ExOfficio, Icicle Seafoods, Orvis, Sage, and Chef’s Collaborative.
Speakers are available for interviews and briefings. Speaker photos and bios available upon request.
If you’re in the Seattle area on 6/9, there is no good reason not to be at this. Let’s push Pebble over a cliff, once and for all. See ya there.
Corporate fly fishing still sucks, but every now and then The Man steps up and swings his big stick for interests beyond the boardroom or the next shareholder’s meeting. Respect to Ex Oh Fish E Oh for setting this up, and for the Sackage to come out and say what everyone in the industry should be shouting from the rafters.
Enter online or in stores during June to win airfare, lodging, guiding and adventure clothes
Performance and outdoor clothing brand ExOfficio and Trout Unlimited’s Alaska program will give away the ultimate getaway: a three-night fishing trip to Bristol Bay, Alaska. Anyone can enter the “Keep the Bugs Away® in Bristol Bay,” contest online at www.exofficiosweeps.com, or in more than 70 retail stores across the country from June 1 – 30.
Sponsored by ExOfficio, the Alaska Program of Trout Unlimited and the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska, the contest, with an approximate retail value of $11,000, includes:
The promotion is aimed at raising awareness for Bristol Bay, home of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, which is threatened by a proposed large-scale gold and copper mine. More than 12,000 people earn their living from Bristol Bay fisheries and related tourism industries, which generate $450 million a year. The Save Bristol Bay effort is led by a broad coalition, including non-profit Trout Unlimited, Alaska Native organizations, commercial fisherman, and outdoor enthusiasts. For more information, see www.savebristolbay.org.
“ExOfficio is proud to help raise awareness for protecting the Bristol Bay watershed from the risks of a massive open pit and underground mine,” said Steve Bendzak, General Manager of ExOfficio, which is based in Seattle. “We stand with the Alaska Natives and others who are working to save this amazing natural resource.”
Both customers and retailers have a chance to win a three-night fishing trip to Alaska. Seventy-six retail stores across the country, including Hudson Trail Outfitters and Great Outdoor Provision Co., will feature the contest and provide in-store entry. A random drawing to select the winner will be conducted on or about August 1, 2011, and the winner must redeem the prize by December 31, 2012.
“We want to thank ExOfficio for bringing awareness to Bristol Bay through this amazing contest,” said Tim Bristol, Director of Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Office. “The winner will get to see firsthand why Alaskans are working so hard to stop Pebble Mine and protect this one of a kind natural resource, and all of the jobs tied to it.”
Bristol Bay is:
• A 40,000-square mile wetland (that’s about the size of Kentucky) with nine major rivers
• Home of the world’s largest sockeye salmon run and one of the biggest king salmon populations
• Epicenter of a $450 million a year fishing industry and 12,000 fishing and tourism jobs
Pebble Mine would:
• Dig an open-pit mine up to two miles wide and 1,700 feet deep; and an underground mine of similar scale
• Dump up to 10 billion tons of toxic mine waste in perpetuity in the heart of the Bristol Bay watershed
• Be operated by and profit two foreign companies
• Potentially destroy the salmon runs, other fish, habitat, and wildlife of this productive and wild area
For more information, contact:
Apologies for steppin’ on Hamma’s recent post about dry-side douchebaggery and the Snake River…read that after you read this. Be sure to click through to the EPA letter and check out the businesses and organizations that signed on – that way, the next time you have a dollar or two to spend in the outdoor industries, you know who your friends are.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Thursday, February 24, 2011
Hunters, anglers, sportsmen call
on Obama administration and
Environmental Protection Agency
to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska
More than 360 outdoor organizations join forces and ask the EPA and White House to stand up for sportsmen and protect Bristol Bay
Washington, D.C. – A united coalition of fishing, hunting and sporting organizations from nearly every U.S. state joined together on Thursday to ask the federal Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska from the dangers of the proposed Pebble Mine.
More than 360 organizations, ranging from fly fishing groups to big game hunters, signed a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging her to use the agency’s authority under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining and development. Next week, representatives of these groups will meet with legislators and agency members in Washington, D.C. to ask for support.
“A huge open-pit mine in the Bristol Bay region could destroy one of the world’s most productive fish and game habitats, kill tourism to this international hunting and fishing mecca, and eliminate jobs from the United States,” said Brian Kraft, owner, Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge and Alaska Sportsman’s Bear Trail Lodge.
The EPA took the first step toward protecting the Southwestern Alaskan region on Feb. 7, when the agency announced plans to assess the Bristol Bay watershed to better understand how future large-scale development projects may affect water quality and Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery.
“Hunters and anglers commend the EPA for taking this first important step,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Bristol Bay is the single most important wild salmon fishery in the world. It generates roughly $450 million a year in economic impact and sustains about 12,000 jobs. We are confident that after the science and other public input are considered, the EPA and the Obama Administration will stand with sport and commercial fishermen and the people of Alaska to protect the extraordinary ecological, economic and cultural value of this place and this fishery.”
Bristol Bay is a 40,000 square mile region with nine major rivers, and is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. Pebble Mine would create an open-pit mine up to two miles wide and 1,700 feet deep. Operated by multi-national mining interests, this mine could dump up to 10 billion tons of perpetually toxic waste in the heart of the Bristol Bay watershed. This area is known for frequent earthquakes, which puts the watershed – and all its fish and wildlife – at an even greater risk for long term toxic pollution and severe damage to the fishery.
“Protecting Bristol Bay is currently the number one conservation issue for the United States fly fishing industry,” said Jim Klug, Chairman of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. “More than 150 sport fishing product companies have directly signed on to support protecting Bristol Bay’s fish and game habitat and economic resources, and hundreds more have voiced their opposition to Pebble Mine. We strongly urge the EPA and Obama administration to protect this amazing place.”
Sport fishing in Bristol Bay generates $60 million annually, and supports more than 800 full- and part-time jobs. Despite the remote nature of the region and the costs to travel there, up to 65,000 visitors journey to Bristol Bay for recreational opportunities to fish, hunt, and view wildlife every year.
“This unique, wild country stands today as God intended, and a mine in the heart of Bristol Bay would cause irrevocable harm,” said Dr. Richard Allen, Past President of the Dallas Safari Club. “The real gold mine is already in Bristol Bay – it’s the salmon, trout, wildlife and the jobs and American families that those fish support.”
Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said: “Over the last century, we have watched our great salmon fisheries sacrificed for development, including the Sacramento, the Klamath, and the Columbia rivers and many in between. Bristol Bay is our last great stronghold for wild salmon – salmon that will support regional economies and provide protein for the world forever if we protect them.”
In the letter to Administrator Jackson, the organizations thank the EPA for the first step, but urge stronger action to protect Bristol Bay. The EPA has the authority under the Clean Water Act to invoke Section 404(c), which would give Bristol Bay the protection it needs from mining and other large-scale developments.
Full text and signatories to the EPA letter here
For more information, contact:
Lesley Rogers, (206) 334-1483 or LesleyR@strategies360.com
Scott Hed, (605) 351-1646 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Just lobbed across the wire -
Release date: 02/07/2011
Contact Information: Contact: Marianne Holsman, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-1237, email@example.com
Assessment responds to concerns of tribes, businesses, and others about development proposals
(Anchorage, Alaska—Feb. 7, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a scientific assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed to better understand how future large-scale development projects may affect water quality and Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery, an extraordinary salmon resource for the United States. EPA initiated this assessment in response to concerns from federally-recognized tribes and others who petitioned the agency in 2010 to assess any potential risks to the watershed.
“The Bristol Bay watershed is essential to the health, environment and economy of Alaska,” said EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran. “Gathering data and getting public input now, before development occurs, just makes sense. Doing this we can be assured that our future decisions are grounded in the best science and information and in touch with the needs of these communities. We look forward to working with Alaskans to protect and preserve this valuable resource.”
In 2010, nine federally-recognized Bristol Bay tribes petitioned EPA to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay. Their concerns focused on the potential Pebble Mine project. Two other tribes asked EPA to wait for mining projects to submit permit applications before taking action.
This action today does not represent any regulatory decision by the agency; instead it represents EPA’s proactive steps to better understand the watershed and gather important scientific information. This information gathered will inform any future guidelines or actions about how to protect the waters and promote sustainable development.
Bristol Bay is an important source of wild Pacific salmon for commercial, recreational, and subsistence users. It produces hundreds of millions of dollars in annual fisheries revenues. The area may be the last major watershed in North America that produces historic numbers of wild salmon. Most of the Bristol Bay watershed is wildlife refuge or park where large development is restricted. EPA’s efforts will focus on those areas that are not protected.
EPA’s assessment is not limited to examining the effects of hard-rock mining projects, but will consider the effects of large-scale development in general.
The assessment, which will focus primarily on the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds, will be informed by scientific peer review, tribal consultation, federal and state agency participation, as well as public and industry input.
EPA will accept and consider public input during development of the watershed assessment and will continue to work closely with tribal governments, state and federal agencies as we undertake this analysis.
AK governor Sean Parnell (R) had sent a letter of complaint to the EPA last year, voicing his opposition to any such scientific assessment, while Rep. Don Young (R-AK) has filed legislation that seeks to remove the EPA’s “Veto Authority” under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act – with 75% + of Bristol Bay’s residents opposing the proposed Pebble Mine, I am not particularly sure these guys have their constituency’s best interests in mind.
If clean water and healthy, sustainable runs of wild salmon are important to you, I urge you to let your voice be heard. Click on THIS LINK to sign on to the Save Bristol Bay petition going to the EPA, asking EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to initiate the 404(c) process for the headwaters of the Nushugak and Kvichak rivers in Bristol Bay.