March 15, 2011 Newsletter
Spring is on the way. Each part of the world has its own signs. Here in eastern South Dakota, I heard the first flocks of snow geese passing over the house late last week and I saw thousands of them on the weekend, heading north which will surely excite waterfowl hunters in the spring season. Ice houses must now be removed from lakes, and anglers are awaiting open water. I hope things in our area are awakening as well after the winter season.
Here are some of the highlights from the past month. As always, there’s much more found at the Latest News page on the SAA site. I encourage you to visit that page and peruse the stories from the past month.
Bristol Bay: Hunters and Anglers Call on EPA to Protect Bristol Bay
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Mon., Feb. 7, that it will review the suitability of large-scale development projects – such as the proposed Pebble mine – in the Bristol Bay watershed. On Feb. 24, SAA helped to organize a press conference featuring luminaries from the hunting and angling conservation and business communities. Speakers praised the EPA for taking this first step, but urged the agency to move to protect Bristol Bay. A letter organized by SAA from sporting interests to the EPA was released that same day. The letter was signed by over 360 hunting and angling groups and businesses from across the country, calling for EPA to exercise its authority under the Clean Water Act and protect Bristol Bay. See the press release from the press conference.
Reaction to EPA’s engagement in Bristol Bay
(At Left: A new ad from national hunting and angling groups is encouraging EPA to protect Bristol Bay.)
Bristol Bay: SAA Part of Lobby Trip to Washington, D.C.
SAA Director Scott Hed was part of a six-person contingent that traveled to Washington, D.C., in early March. The team, made up of hunting and angling interests, met with federal officials and Congressional offices to educate them on the EPA’s actions in Bristol Bay, and ask for their support for protecting one of the planet’s greatest fishing and hunting destinations. The message was well-received and it’s clear that the issue is rising to the top of sportsmen’s issues in the current Congress.
One member of the DC team recently had a guest editorial in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. It’s a terrific perspective from a long-time Alaskan who has usually supported development projects but finds Pebble to be just too risky.
Bristol Bay: Anglo American CEO in Anchorage & Updated Mine Scenario Released
Cynthia Carroll, chief executive of Anglo American, addressed the Resource Development Council in Anchorage on March 3. She discusses the state of the Pebble project and takes on opponents of the proposed Pebble Mine in this video. It’s an interesting speech, so be patient with the download and take a listen…you’ll be inspired.
Remember, mining and the Bristol Bay fishery can co-exist! Check out the overage from the Anchorage Daily News, KTUU television, and reaction from the Bristol Bay Native Corporation in the Bristol Bay Times.
Also, Anglo’s partner – Northern Dynasty Minerals – released a preliminary assessment and updated development scenario for the project. Guess what? The results indicate the Pebble Mine could be very profitable for its foreign owners. Really? The Anchorage Daily News reported on the study and the fact that Anglo American wasn’t exactly thrilled with its release.
Tongass National Forest: Federal Judge Restores Roadless Rule Protections
In a huge decision for our nation’s largest national forest, a federal judge in Anchorage has overturned an exemption of the Tongass National Forest from the “roadless rule.”
Reaction to Tongass Roadless Decision
Bristol Bay Photo Essay by Ken Morrish
Check out the beautiful images and moving prose from Alaska, Past Present & Future, by Ken Morrish.
Here’s a snippet: “Today the future of the region lies squarely in our hands. The promise of 400 billion dollars in resource extraction is a formidable and unforgiving opponent that will take effort, heart, hope, and persistence to deter.”
Share these photographs with anyone you feel might care about Bristol Bay – a picture really is worth a thousand words.
Show Season Winding Down
SAA has been criss-crossing the country at sporting shows since the calendar turned to 2011. Largely through the dedication and generosity of volunteers, we’ve been able to spread the message of Alaska conservation. Thousands of hunters and anglers have signed up to help protect places like Bristol Bay and the Tongass National Forest at these shows. The last show on the calendar takes place at the Outdoor Expo in Reno, Nev., on March 25-27. SAA may have a booth at the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival in Waynesboro, Va., on April 16-17. If interested in volunteering at either show, please e-mail SAA Director Scott Hed.
A huge thank you to all who volunteered this year – we honestly could not do it without you! Please read this testimonial by Jason Barnes, president of the University of Nevada-Reno chapter of the American Fisheries Society. Jason and his crew really stepped up recently.
A Volunteer’s Perspective: When a plan crumbles around you from all sides it is usually cause for despair, but in our situation it ended up being cause for celebration. The University of Nevada, Reno student subunit of The American Fisheries Society is a newly formed group of students, faculty, and alumni passionate about conserving the fishes of the world as well as their habitats.
We never could have guessed that asking SAA Director Scott Hed to speak at our showing of the movie Red Gold would translate into a fundamental shift in the way we looked at protecting our natural resources. When Scott said he had to go to Washington, D.C., and spread the news about the dangers of Pebble Mine and he wouldn't be able to speak at our event, I felt like we lost the legitimacy needed to draw a crowd.
Then Scott told me that the SAA booth at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation convention would have to be given up because he didn't have anyone to staff it.
It was then that I realized that it's not a person or an event that gives legitimacy to the cause, it's the people and the fish and the habitat that stand to be lost if Pebble goes through that provides more than enough reason to get involved.
Without the approval of our group I immediately offered to staff the booth. I figured that I would do it alone if I had to, but I knew the members of our group would rally behind the cause when they learned more about what was proposed in the headwaters of Bristol Bay.
After informing the group about Bristol Bay, hands of hopeful volunteers shot up in support. Through the course of four days at the event it was inspiring to see how people who had never heard of Pebble Mine were moved to action or wanted to know more.
Perhaps most encouraging was the fact that it was the people who volunteered that really saw how important it is to take action. We were tasked with educating the public, but in the end it was the volunteers who learned the most. This experience, from start to finish, has taught us that it is far more rewarding to give than it is to receive, and we are now on the hunt for more opportunities to give.
For the record, Jason and his group are the ones staffing the SAA booth at the Outdoor Expo in Reno in a few weeks. Above and beyond doesn’t begin to describe their efforts. Thank you – you’re a tremendous inspiration and example of what will be needed to prevail in this battle!
Special Offer from Pro Photographer Terry Gunn
Here’s an opportunity to get a sweet image of Bristol Bay and help support the fight to protect this amazing place…all at the same time!
Angler and photographer Terry Gunn has made a variety of his great images (example right) available for purchase, with all profits to benefit SAA’s work. Prints available in sizes from 4”x6” to 20”x30”, so there’s something for everyone! Suitable for framing or you can get the image mounted on lightweight gatorboard.
Visit Terry's site to view and order your prints. Thanks for the support, Terry!
Donate to SAA – Support the Fight for Fishing and Hunting in Alaska
SAA is grateful for the generous support of individuals, businesses, and foundations. Your donations allow SAA to continue to work on efforts to protect prime fishing and hunting habitats in the Last Frontier for the benefit of current and future sportsmen and women. Make your donations online at the secure SAA donation page; all amounts are accepted and appreciated! For donations of the following amounts, please indicate what item you’d like to receive in the “comment” box on the donation page.
Thanks for whatever you’re able to contribute to help secure a future for fishing and hunting on Alaska’s public lands!
Thanks for caring about Alaska conservation. Get ready for lots of action in the coming year!
Director – Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska