Welcome to the latest installment of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a roundup of the most pressing conservation issues important to anglers. Working with our friends at Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Everglades Foundation, Captains for Clean Water, VoteWater.org, and Conservation Hawks (among others), we’ll make sure you’ve got the information you need to understand the issues and form solid opinions.
Today, we’re dedicating the Wednesday Wake-Up Call to The Pedro* Bay Rivers Project, which aims to conserve more than 44,000 acres of vital habitat at the northeastern end of Iliamna Lake that’s essential to the health and vitality of Bristol Bay, the people who live there, and the world-renowned commercial-fishing and sportfishing industries. A partnership between the Pedro Bay Corporation, the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, and The Conservation Fund intends to place three conservation easements on lands along the Pile River, Iliamna River, and Knutson Creek, waters that provide spawning grounds for the extraordinary returns of sockeye salmon year after year. (*Pedro is pronounced peedro in this instance.)
The conservation easements will not only protect the important salmon habitat, but to also prevent the construction of an industrial-scale road that is part of the proposed Pebble Mine plan. Once conserved, the Pedro Bay Corporation will continue to own and manage the lands for recreation, cultural and subsistence activities. The Pedro Bay Rivers project will also protect habitat for many other species, including all five species of Pacific salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, migratory birds, moose, seal, brown bear, and wolf.
Fundraising Deadline Looms: Donate to Help Protect Fragile Bristol Bay Watersheds
A Message from Brian Kraft, owner of Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge:
We have been battling to protect the Bristol Bay area, specifically headwater rivers draining into the Nushagak and Kvichak River systems of southwest Alaska, for almost 20 years. Many of you enjoy the world-class fishing this region offers. It is our responsibility to protect what we hold in such high regards as simply the best freshwater sport fishing on the planet. We have many avenues we are perusing. One is through government agency action that would stop the current plan to mine the region by the Pebble Partnership. This is a great step in the right direction, and we are hopeful this action happens soon. However, as good of news this would be it does not PERMANENTLY protect the area from large scale mining activity that would consume critical habitat that supports one of the last thriving wild salmon runs left on the planet.
We do have a plan. The Pebble deposit is in a remote part of Alaska with very limited transportation corridors to support construction of the mine, perform operations, and eventually bring the ore to market once mined. The main route for their road corridor travels through private Native Alaskan-owned property belonging to the Pedro Bay Native Corporation. We, the group fighting against Pebble, in cooperation with the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust and the Conservation Fund, have entered into an agreement with the Pedro Bay Native Corporation to purchase a conservation easement that would forever prohibit any road access across their lands. The agreement calls for a $20M price tag. We have raised roughly $17.5M to date. Our deadline is mid-December.
The easement would literally put a huge roadblock for Pebble or any other company looking to mine in this region. It would also drive up the capital costs to develop the project via alternative transportation means to a point that deters other potential investors in the mine. I personally have been in this fight since 2004, and I serve on the Board of Directors of the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust that put this deal together. This is our best opportunity to really stop this mine project from going forward that does not rely on political whim or Agency decisions. Please take a few minutes to look over the below information and watch the video above. We need your help and would appreciate any donation you can make.
- Pebble mine backers ‘tried to trick regulators’ over project’s size, says congressional report, on adn.com
- Alaska Gov. Dunleavy urges EPA to stop veto of Pebble mine, on adn.com
- Chairs DeFazio and Napolitano Release Committee Report on Pebble Mine—Ask the AG to Investigate False Statements to Congress, on transportation.house.gov