Written by: Paul Moinester
There are few places left in the United States as pristine and untouched as Alaska’s Chuitna Watershed. Nestled between the Cook Inlet and the rugged Tordrillo Mountain Range, the Chuitna is an iconic Alaskan wilderness teeming with pools of wild Pacific salmon and oversize grizzlies and moose. In a world where wild salmon stocks have been depleted by over-exploitation and habitat loss, the Chuitna remains one of the world’s last salmon strongholds and boasts abundant runs of all five species of wild Pacific salmon.
However, this unspoiled Alaskan wilderness is slated for destruction due to the proposed Chutina Mine. If approved, PacRim Coal would develop one of the United States’ largest open pit coal mines directly through the salmon-rich headwaters of the Chuitna River. The project would dig 300 feet deep through 13.7 miles of prolific salmon streams, setting a dangerous precedent that would endanger hundreds of other salmon streams that course through Alaska’s untapped coal fields.
As dire as this news sounds, we have the power and ability to prevent this pristine Alaskan wilderness from being transformed into an industrial wasteland. With a few keystrokes and mouse clicks, you can support the incredible work being done by local groups and residents on the frontlines of the fight. Together we can help save the Chuitna.
Join the effort to save the Chuitna by visiting the Save the Chuitna page or by texting “Salmon” to 313131. As the campaign unfolds, you will be notified when it is time to speak up and help save the Chuitna.
In 2013, Paul Moinester completed a six-month, 20,000-mile adventure exploring the upstream battle to protect wild fish and their habitat. (Check out his introductory post here.) He posted dispatches on the Fly Fishing blog throughout his journey, including a piece about the Chuitna situation. Last year, he wrote about his fly-fishing adventures while living and studying in Ireland.