Sporting Conservation Petition for Bristol Bay
THE HONORABLE KEN SALAZAR
U.S. SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
The Honorable Lisa Murkowski – U.S. Senator from Alaska
The Honorable Mark Begich – U.S. Senator from Alaska
The Honorable Don Young – U. S. Representative from Alaska
The Honorable Sean Parnell – Governor of Alaska
We, the undersigned anglers, hunters and conservationists, are deeply concerned with proposals to transform vast tracts of land in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed into a massive mining district. Many of us, along with our friends and fellow sportsmen and women from across America and around the world, travel to Bristol Bay to pursue some of the world’s last great runs of wild salmon, trophy rainbow trout, and hunt for caribou, moose, or bear in a wild and remote setting. For untold numbers of us Bristol Bay is viewed as a “once in a lifetime,” world-class, dream destination. Bristol Bay is a national and international treasure; its fish, game, and wilderness character are worth far more than the minerals that may lie below the land’s surface.
A couple of beautiful rainbows.
©Barry and Cathy Beck
We respectfully request that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management reconsider the recent Record of Decision which recommends opening nearly 2 million acres of land in the Bristol Bay area to hard rock mine prospecting and development on publicly-owned land it manages in the Bristol Bay area. Changes in status of Public Land Orders throughout region should not be issued until serious conservation concerns about the plan are addressed. In addition to the BLM lands in the region, your agency oversees management of Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, Katmai National Park & Preserve, and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve. Mining development in the Bristol Bay region – including the proposed massive Pebble Mine – could have adverse impacts on these federal lands which total over 12 million acres. If mining permits were granted, multi-national mining companies could possibly drain critical salmon rivers and trophy trout streams and destroy valuable fish and game habitat. The development activity and infrastructure required for such a massive proposal would undoubtedly have detrimental effects on both fish and game resources. The State of Alaska and the federal government should strongly consider creation of a watershed-wide system of conservation units to preserve the renewable resources that this region supports.
As the salmon stronghold of the nation, the Bristol Bay salmon fishery generates an estimated $332 million per year for Alaska’s economy, with sport fishing contributing a whopping $61 million to that total. Sport hunting adds millions more. Proposals to turn the region into a huge mining district, complete with toxic tailings-filled lakes created behind some of the largest earthen dams on the planet and access roads across the wilderness, are short-sighted and expose the region’s incredible fish and wildlife resources to what we feel is an unacceptable level of risk.