“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain
While one of America’s most famous authors may have uttered those words, it also applies to one of sporting conservation’s most infamous threats – the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The fight to protect the world’s most productive wild salmon fishery and one of the planet’s finest sport fishing destinations has been a long and largely successful one. The sporting community has linked arms and stood side-by-side with Alaska Natives, commercial fishing interests, and other conservationists in an unprecedented alliance to protect 14,000 jobs and a $1.5 billion industry that has driven proponents of the world’s largest proposed mining projects to the brink of defeat. Indeed, 65% of Alaskans recently voted for a ballot measure that would require additional scrutiny for projects like the Pebble Mine.
But, we can’t rest now, for while the Pebble Mine may be down, it is not out.
Click here to read the update.
Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska Director Honored as Angler of the Year by Fly Rod & Reel Magazine
Statement from SAA Director Scott Hed:
It’s an incredible honor to be recognized as this year’s Angler of the Year by Fly Rod & Reel magazine. I was taken completely by surprise when notified by Greg Thomas, the editor of the publication. To be listed alongside past winners such as Ted Turner, Yvon Chouinard, Tom Rosenbauer, and Craig Hayes (just to mention a few) is something that is humbling to say the least. There’s really no way I belong in their company, at least I don’t think so. I’m quite possibly the least-skilled angler to ever win “Angler of the Year!” Think I’m kidding? Ask some of the guides who’ve fished with me over the years. I get results, but it’s usually not all that pretty getting them. I guess it’s a good thing that angling isn’t the sole qualifier to be considered for this distinction.
The campaign to protect Bristol Bay has been the most meaningful endeavor I’ve been involved with in my 46 years on this planet, and that will likely still hold true someday when I’m dead and gone. This campaign has been an incredible experience, and I feel that the recognition I received with this award is far beyond what I’m individually due. To be clear, I do not dispute the fact that I’ve worked longer than anyone in the Lower 48 in spreading the word among the community of anglers about why the Pebble Mine is a horrible idea for Bristol Bay. In fact, I still recall the day that I was asked if I’d like to take this duty on. In the back of my mind, I thought “They want me to go around the country and talk with anglers (and hunters) about Bristol Bay…a place that sportsmen and women either dream of going someday or where they can’t wait to return if they’ve had the good fortune to visit in the past. What’s the catch? Am I still going to get paid?” It has truly been an honor and a pleasure to carry the story of Bristol Bay from coast to coast and even overseas, helping to build an army of supporters that we’ve needed to get us to the doorstep of a historic conservation victory.
But the main reason this campaign has been such a success is the fact that it was born in Bristol Bay, and the fire to protect this amazing fishery has radiated outward from Alaska. There are many, many people I’ve worked for and alongside for years who’ve played major roles in this effort – and more than a few that have been more instrumental than I have been. It’s just that due to my lengthy tenure in front of the angling community, that my face and name are recognized more than most others on our team. There are so many people who I have to share this award with – from the residents of Bristol Bay’s villages who are fighting for their very cultural existence, to the commercial fishermen and women who toil every season to provide a nutritious food that is consumed globally, to the sport fishing lodges and outfitters and their tremendous staff who share the bucket list Bristol Bay angling experience with eager clients from around the world, and my fantastically dedicated colleagues. I am but one part of a very passionate and incredible group that has remained laser-focused on the end goal. Now I know what pro athletes mean when they have won an MVP award and say “This is really an award that belongs to our entire team.” No one person could have gotten us to this point, but I’m proud to say I’ve been a part of something very special.
And, as the article states: This fight is not over. There will be no “Mission Accomplished” banner flying until we see that Bristol Bay is protected. Please help us keep fighting until we reach that day. Thank you for the accolade, but more importantly, for your past and ongoing support.
- The Autumn 2014 issue of Fly Rod & Reel is available on newsstands now.
Massive Support Shown for EPA Action in Bristol Bay during Final Public Comment Period
Bristol Bay, Alaska is home to one of the last great salmon fisheries on the planet. The salmon, wildlife, people, and fishing jobs of this beautiful and productive region are threatened by the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine. If built, Pebble could become the largest mine in North America and affect our Salmon and landscape permanently.
The U.S. EPA is in the midst of a process under the Clean Water Act that has identified appropriate options to protect the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska from the potentially destructive impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine.
To learn more about Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, please visit EPA’s website: www2.epa.gov/bristolbay.
On September 19, 2014 the final official public comment period closed on this process.
- See a press release from Trout Unlimited that highlights the tremendous number of Alaskans that participated in the comment period and the roughly 625,000 total comments that were received in this round.
- Mining Weekly reports that EPA will be reviewing hundreds of thousands of public comments on the plan to restrict disposal of mining waste from the Pebble deposit in Bristol Bay. There are a number of quotes from Northern Dynasty Minerals, the sole entity remaining in the Pebble project at this time.
Heavyweights of the Hunting World Come Out Against Pebble Mine
Three of the most well-known and respected minds in hunting conservation have reached the same conclusion as so many in the sporting world have: Pebble Mine is simply the wrong future for southwest Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay region. See the press release on this exciting development.
Renowned conservationist and wildlife biologist Shane Mahoney held a Q&A on the Pebble Mine controversy, providing a preview to his upcoming Sports Afield column on the most important public policy battle in the Great Land.
Mahoney also wrote an excellent piece about Bristol Bay and the proposed Pebble Mine for the North American Hunting Club.
|Craig Boddington is one of today’s most respected outdoor journalists, with dozens of books and thousands of articles and essays published. In a sneak preview of an article coming in the October issue of Alaska Sporting Journal, he discusses his experiences in the Bristol Bay region and why we must stop the Pebble Mine.|
EPA Moves Forward with Clean Water Act Process to Protect Bristol Bay
July 18, 2014
Scott Hed, director of the Sportsman's Alliance for Alaska explains what the EPA did today to help protect Bristol Bay:
- The Alaska Dispatch News has very comprehensive coverage of reaction from all sides of the debate in Alaska on today's EPA action.
- The hunting and angling community commends the Environmental Protection Agency for its proposed determination to protect Bristol Bay using Section 404c of the Clean Water Act.
- The Los Angeles Times covered today’s big news about EPA’s proposed determination under the Clean Water Act 404c process.
- The Alaska Dispatch News reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposes strict limits on Pebble Mine to protect salmon.
- Washington Post's political blog details the EPA's issuance of a proposal under the Clean Water Act limiting mining activity in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, striking a major blow to a project that would rank as one of the world's largest open-pit mines.
- The news broke while SAA Director Scott Hed was at the ICAST/IFTD fishing tackle industry trade shows. Scott was interviewed briefly by Angling Trade magazine – click to read their take on the development and see a short video interview.
Sportsmen Disappointed in Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Attack on Hunting and Angling Paradise in Bristol Bay
July 15, 2014 – Sporting groups, led by SAA, issued a press release regarding today’s U.S. House committee hearing seeking to remove EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act to potentially protect Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine.
Over 1,100 sporting organizations and groups have supported the EPA’s actions in Bristol Bay, and called for agency to use the Clean Water Act to stop the Pebble Mine. Sportsmen have also shown strong opposition to similar legislation introduced in the Senate, the Regulatory Fairness Act.
Sportsmen Groups Oppose Senate Bill That Would Hamper EPA’s Work to Protect Bristol Bay
April 16, 2014 – Today, 14 leading sportsmen’s and conservation groups expressed their strong opposition to the Regulatory Fairness Act, which would halt the EPA’s efforts to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska from the proposed Pebble Mine.
The groups sent a letter outlining their concerns to the co-sponsors of the legislation.
Over 1,100 hunting and angling groups and businesses have registered their support for EPA using the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay using the same part of the CWA that the Regulatory Fairness Act seeks to restrict.
Read the press release about today’s letter.
NEWS: EPA Begins Process to Protect Bristol Bay
February 28, 2014
Today, the EPA is beginning a process under the Clean Water Act to identify appropriate options to protect the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska from the potentially destructive impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine.
There are several steps in the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) review process, and public involvement opportunities are part of the process. To read the news release, the letter initiating EPA’s review or to learn more about Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, please visit EPA’s website: www2.epa.gov/bristolbay.
The Washington Post broke the story this morning.
EPA releases final Bristol Bay watershed assessment
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its final report on the threats facing the Bristol Bay region from proposed massive mining projects such as the Pebble Mine. The sport fishing and hunting community issued a press release and a letter to the EPA praising the agency for completing the study, but calling on EPA to now use its authority under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay.
See EPA’s press release on the agency’s Bristol Bay page.
Anglo American Decides to Exit Pebble Partnership
The major financial partner behind the proposed Pebble Mine announced that it is exercising its option to exit the project, leaving Northern Dynasty Minerals to go it alone for now. While this is a very positive development, the proposed Pebble Mine is still a massive threat to Bristol Bay until we achieve protection for the region. Lots of news to be found on the Latest News page, and here are some highlights:
Bristol Bay River Academy
Check out this great video from the 2013 Bristol Bay River Academy – a project to engage Bristol Bay youth in the sport fishing industry.
National Sportsmen and Conservation Groups Urge Congressman Paul Broun to Support the Protection of Bristol Bay
Sixteen prominent national sportsmen and conservation groups signed a letter to Congressman Paul Broun urging his support for the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment and the protection of one of the world’s greatest locations for hunting and fishing. Congressman Broun, who proudly calls himself a sportsman, will chair a Congressional hearing on Thursday, August 1 to look into the EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. Previously, Congressman Broun has been critical of the EPA’s efforts to protect Bristol Bay and its fish and wildlife species, much to the disappointment of many sportsmen and conservationists.
The letter concludes: “We do not doubt your passion for issues important to sportsmen. When it comes to Bristol Bay, however, your stance is at odds with like minded sportsmen, the businesses they run, and organizations of which they are members. As you continue to perform your duties as Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee for the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, we hope that you will remember your sportsmen’s roots and listen to our concerns about Bristol Bay, Alaska. The EPA’s process is the only guaranteed way to ensure that Bristol Bay is protected through reasonable mining restrictions. It deserves your support, not derision.”
Revised EPA Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment Released
Comment Period Closed June 30, 2013
On Friday, April 26, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency released its revised draft watershed assessment for Bristol Bay.
Based on over 230,000 public comments, public meetings held in Seattle, Anchorage, and a number of Bristol Bay communities, and a review by an independently selected panel of expert peer scientists, EPA has released revisions to the draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.
- The revised draft watershed assessment and executive summary may be viewed on the EPA's official Bristol Bay Web site.
- View the official official EPA fact sheet which summarizes changes in the revised draft watershed assessment.
- Trout Unlimited expressed the need for EPA to take action based on the revised assessment in this press release.
- Commercial fishing businesses voiced their support for the watershed assessment in this press release.
See the Latest News page for tons of media coverage about the EPA’s watershed assessment over the past several months.
The Last Cast - Sportsmen Fight to Save Bristol Bay
This beautiful video will sweep you into the incredible landscape of Bristol Bay, Alaska and give you a taste of why anglers "are spoiled forever" after fishing in Bristol Bay's productive waters. "It's the place people dream to fish." And, it explains why sportsmen are fighting so hard to protect this last vestige of wild in the United States from an open-pit mine of "unimaginable size" called Pebble.
As they say, it's go time. Send a message to the President now.
See the letter from 925 angling and hunting groups and businesses asking EPA for common-sense protections in Bristol Bay by clicking here. (Letter current as of 5/7/13).
Bristol Bay Area Plan
This fact sheet and the video below explain the State of Alaska’s Bristol Bay Area Plan which was originally created in 1984, revised drastically (in a very bad way) in 2005, challenged in court and because of a settlement agreement between the State of Alaska and the plaintiffs, will be revised in 2013.
Read the Save Bristol Bay blog entry of Jan. 23, 2013, about the positives and the not-so-positives in the State of Alaska’s proposed revisions to the Bristol Bay Area Plan.
Bristol Bay Dispatches - EPA Hearings
Sportsmen rally for Bristol Bay in Nation's Capital
by Scott Hed
Forty hunting and angling leaders descended on Washington, D.C. in April, 2012, to participate in the Bristol Bay Sportsmen's Summit.
It was incredible to witness the drive and passion that sportsmen and women from across the nation have in support of the efforts to protect Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine project.
Having worked on this issue for over six years, the Summit represented something of a culmination (yet, just another step toward our ultimate goal) of the efforts to date to inform and engage America's hunting and angling communities in our campaign.
The diversity of supporters from the hook and bullet realm - now numbering over 500 groups and businesses who have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect Bristol Bay - was also reflected in the selfless individuals who traveled from 17 different states to give a few days of their time to talk to federal decision-makers about the importance of Bristol Bay.
Our contingent included Bristol Bay lodge operators from Alaska and a few other states, current and former state politicians, current and past executives and officers of Trout Unlimited, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Dallas Safari Club, Camp Fire Club of America, Pope and Young Club, American Sportfishing Association, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance, Wildlife Forever, North American Hunting Club, North American Fishing Club, and many state or local sportsman group leaders and outdoor business owners.
Our sporting leaders were excited and proud to be joined by executives and board members from the Bristol Bay Native Corporation. It was terrific to work alongside the leaders of BBNC, who are fighting for the future of the region which has supported their families for many generations. One of the strengths of this campaign is the fact that the in-region support is so widespread and pervasive, and the fact that support outside of Alaska continues to grow at such a tremendous rate only serves to make the overall campaign more effective.
We kept our charges extremely busy over the course of our time in DC. Over 40 meetings were held with Congressional offices as well as with staff at the White House and the Administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson. Trust me, attempting to schedule delegates in that many meetings in that short a time frame is a challenge, and I salute my colleagues who helped with those logistical details.
At the close of the Summit the big question was: Did we move the needle? I believe we did. The talents and passion of these 40 sportsmen and women carried the message for the millions of hunters and anglers from across the country who have either been to Bristol Bay and can’t wait to return, or who haven’t been there yet but dream of visiting Bristol Bay someday.
During our training session the day before our meetings began, I told the delegates that they were in DC to play a part in what may become the signature fisheries conservation victory of our lifetimes. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that. If Bristol Bay can be risked to something like the Pebble Mine, then I truly believe that everything is on the table – no place is off limits. Because of the depth and diversity of the parties fighting for Bristol Bay – from Bristol Bay villages to the farthest corners of our nation – I continue to believe that the good guys have a fighting chance. After the events of last week’s Sportsmen’s Summit for Bristol Bay, our decision makers have been reminded again how important this issue is for the people of Bristol Bay and all who treasure it.
Scott Hed is director of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska.
More coverage of the Bristol Bay Sportsmen's Summit
- The Sportsmen’s Summit for Bristol Bay took place in Washington, DC, the week of April 16, 2012. Read the press release from Trout Unlimited.
- A former Congressman who is currently the Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party wrote an opinion editorial in The Hill, a Washington, DC, paper, advocating for the protection of Bristol Bay.
How the EPA can Protect Bristol Bay
The coming year is shaping up to be critically important in the efforts to stop the proposed Pebble Mine.
Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed is a complex system of rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands that support the most productive wild sockeye salmon fishery in the world.
To protect the salmon, sportsmen, Alaska tribes, native corporations, commercial fishermen and others have petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to restrict or prohibit the disposal of mine waste in Bristol Bay's pristine waters, including wetlands.
Click here for a simple overview of the EPA’s role and the section of the Clean Water Act that is being deliberated.
Share These Fact Sheets to Help Bristol Bay
The Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska and the Trout Unlimited Alaska program have created a few simple tools to help spread the word about Bristol Bay.
Print a few copies to share with friends, distribute at your business, or download the files and e-mail to your contacts. Get creative with how you use them, but be sure to use them – that’s the important part.
We need to get more people aware of the threat facing Bristol Bay and let them know how they can help.
- High Resolution Fact Sheet (suitable for printing)
- Low Resolution Fact Sheet (better for e-mailing as a file attachment)
- Informational Postcard
Hunters Taking Interest in Proposed Pebble Mine
While nobody will dispute the fact that the major risk to the Bristol Bay region from the proposed Pebble Mine will be to the world’s largest wild salmon fishery, it’s also true that southwest Alaska holds tremendous value for species such as caribou, moose, and bear. Hunters from across the globe travel to this region every year to experience a remote wilderness hunt in truly wild country.
The Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska works with hunting groups like Dallas Safari Club, big game hunting guides, and companies in the hunting products industry. More hunters will be hearing about the threat facing Bristol Bay in coming months.
Click on the magazine cover to read a piece SAA did for Trophy Hunter magazine. The piece discusses why hunters should care about Pebble Mine, and includes statements of support from Dallas Safari Club, Sturm Ruger & Co., hunting guides and more. Anglers, hunters, or both…all of us are working to protect Bristol Bay!
Donate $25 to the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska and get a copy of the award-winning documentary film Red Gold on DVD.
Red Gold is hands down the best outreach tool to educate people about the Pebble Mine threat. It’s an incredible human interest story, and appeals to all audiences…not just those of us that love to catch big rainbow trout!
Please indicate “Red Gold DVD” in the comment box on the secure donation page.
Abel ‘No Pebble Mine’ Reel to Aid Alaskan Conservation
Opponents of the potentially environmentally devastating Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region will benefit from an Abel Super 5N trout reel.
Abel will produce a limited edition of the engraved reels ...