Hunters and anglers working together to preserve fish and game habitats and hunting and fishing opportunities on our public lands in Alaska.

Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska
April 2008 Newsletter


I hope that spring has arrived in your area. The Sportman’s Alliance for Alaska (SAA) has spent much of 2008 on the road, exhibiting at and attending various sport shows in Colorado, Texas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, Washington, North Carolina, Nevada, Minnesota, and Florida. Thanks to the thousands of people that stopped by the booth to learn more about Alaska’s fantastic hunting and angling opportunities and conservation issues in Alaska. I hope those of you heading north this summer have the trip of a lifetime, and I hope the rest of you make plans to get up to the Last Frontier in coming years. I know it’s cliché, but Alaska really is a sportsperson’s paradise. On to the news, which is fairly dominated by our first issue…

Bristol Bay

You’re probably aware of what’s shaping up to be the biggest conservation battle in decades – the fight to preserve the world’s greatest wild salmon runs and the best trophy wild rainbow trout fishing on the planet. We can’t forget that this area also supports fantastic hunting opportunities for caribou, moose, and bear. In fact, hunting in the area is already being disrupted due to the helicopter traffic from all the mining exploration work. Mining companies continue to place the Bristol Bay region squarely in the crosshairs of development. The Pebble Mine, being proposed by Northern Dynasty and Anglo-American, is the one most people hear about. But just recently a company named Liberty Star announced plans to seek a major investment partner to help develop its claims which lie adjacent to the Pebble project. There are 1,000 square miles of state lands already staked with mining claims, and the federal Bureau of Land Management has proposed opening over one million acres of its lands to mining exploration and development in the region. One of the greatest sporting destinations on earth is at risk of being forever degraded. Fortunately, there are some positive developments to report:

Tongass National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service released the Tongass Land Management Plan adjustment in late January. (Click here for the full Forest Service information.) While it is similar in many ways to the 1997 plan in the eventual outcome, it does utilize an adaptive management approach which buys additional time to find a more balanced resolution between conservation of critical fish and game habitat and timber production. The plan defers new logging and road-building in some of the most valuable fish and wildlife watersheds on the Tongass. However, the plan does not give permanent protection to many of these important areas. SAA is working with other groups to seek balanced forest management that recognizes all of the important values the Tongass provides to the people of southeast Alaska and visitors to the Tongass, including subsistence use of resources, hunting and fishing, recreation, and economic sustainability of local communities. Restoration of previously logged areas and methods to assist the timber industry in a transition to a second-growth harvest model will also continue to be priorities to pursue. SAA hopes to continue working collaboratively with other organizations, forest managers, and local communities to develop a science-based conservation strategy that balances habitat protection with local community needs, and find a practical way forward that delivers results for everyone who depends on the Tongass.

Teshekpuk Lake

We are still awaiting word from the BLM on their decision to keep this massive arctic lake and wetland complex off-limits to oil development. Late last year, the SAA rallied sportsperson support and Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, the Pacific Flyway Council, International Wild Waterfowl Association, the Washington Brant Foundation, Izaak Walton League of America, and scores of state outdoor groups and individual hunters contacted the Department of Interior, asking for the protections at Teshekpuk Lake to remain in place. To see a slideshow about this area, visit the Field & Stream Web site by clicking here.

“What Can I Do To Help?”

This is probably one of the most common questions I receive from interested people. There are several things you can do:

Sign the Bristol Bay and Teshekpuk Lake petitions on the SAA Web site. Tell your friends and hunting and fishing partners to do the same!

SAA on the Road

After doing so much traveling during January, February, and March, I’m getting itchy feet being in my office most of April and May. Ok, that might be a stretch, but the SAA will be attending the following events over the summer and fall months. Stop by to visit, and I look forward to seeing you at one of these gatherings.

That will do it for this edition of the SAA newsletter. Look for the next quarterly newsletter update sometime in July. Until then, enjoy your summer activities and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Thanks for your continued interest and involvement in conserving Alaska’s fabulous fish and game resources and the lands and waters which support them.

Scott Hed
Director – Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska

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