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

June 12, 2009 Newsletter

I hope you’ve been having a successful and enjoyable spring. All across the country sportsmen and women are taking part in turkey hunting, new fishing seasons…and warmer weather! Wherever your summer adventures take you, I wish you safe travels and good luck. As for me, my wife and I are heading to Alaska in the middle of July. I can’t wait…just so long as Nicki doesn’t outfish me! (But if she does, I promise to include photographic evidence in a future newsletter.)

There are a number of news items and updates to share in this month’s SAA news…

Bristol Bay Federal Lands Remain in Limbo

The new administration has yet to fill several top positions in the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Interior. Until those positions are filled, the plan for management of 1.5 million acres of BLM lands in the Bristol Bay region (which was proposed by the previous administration) will not be finalized. The proposed plan recommends lifting the restrictions on mining development on 99% of the BLM lands in the Bristol Bay region. In a few weeks, the SAA (along with partners at Trout Unlimited and National Wildlife Federation) will deliver a letter to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, asking that the BLM lands in Bristol Bay remain protected for their value as fish and game habitat. The letter has been signed by nearly 300 sporting conservation groups, sporting goods trade associations and businesses, and lodges and outfitters from across the country. While most of the attention is paid to the proposed Pebble Mine project, the entire region could be placed at risk of these federal lands are also opened to development. Click here for a map of the federal and state lands at risk in Bristol Bay.

Bristol Bay Guide Academy – Donations Needed!
Bristol Bay Fishing Academy Prepares Youth, Protects Waters

Bristol Bay Guide Academy – Donations Needed!

Help sponsor a young person for the second annual Bristol Bay Fly Fishing + Guide Academy, and keep Bristol Bay healthy for future fishing! Bristol Bay young people ages 15-22 can spend August 9-15 on the Nushagak River at the old village site of Akuluriqaalleq with experienced Bristol Bay fishing guides, learning how to fly fish and sportfish guide while gaining hands-on job experience. Opportunities exist for employment as a guide the following summer for those who successfully complete the academy. Priority placement in the academy will be given to applicants from the Bristol Bay region and scholarship opportunities are available. Professionals will share their experience with motivated young people, helping them prepare for future careers based in their home communities. It aims to keep more benefits of Bristol Bay tourism in Bristol Bay, to generate a more diverse, sustainable local economy while benefiting future visitors.

This Academy is part of a Bristol Bay regional initiative aiming to train local youth who will become the next generation of home-grown leaders Bristol Bay's tourism industry. Those successfully completing the camp will have opportunities to work as a guide next summer. Funding has been generously provided by regional sponsors but it doesn't cover the costs of fishing equipment or the full airfare to Ekwok for some participants.

Waders, fishing equipment and a fly kit for each student costs about $250. Please share a small donation to help a local young person in a big way if you can. Any amount, $25, $50, $100 will help fund gear and travel scholarships. Students will learn to use their fishing equipment at the camp, and keep the gear to continue practicing their skills so they'll be prepared for a job next season. Donations can be made via the link above.

Deadliest Catch Captain Sig Hansen and Crew Call Pebble Mine a Disaster for Alaska

Deadliest Catch Captain Sig Hansen and Crew Call Pebble Mine a Disaster for Alaska

The crew of the F/V Northwestern and stars of The Deadliest Catch, America's top-rated cable television show, are speaking out about a massive hard-rock mine that developers want to build in the heart of Alaska's wild salmon country. Read the story at Midcurrent.

Activist Profile: Evan Griggs and the Southwest High School Fly Fishing Club

I met Evan Griggs in April 2008 when I gave a presentation to the Lew Jewett Chapter of the Federation of Fly Fishers in St. Paul, MN. Evan was just nearing completion of his sophomore year at Southwest High School, where had had founded the Southwest High School Fly Fishing Club (SWFFC). Evan was very interested in the Bristol Bay situation and invited the campaign to give a program to their club at a meeting in March 2009. After Anders Gustafson (a Minnesota native now living in Alaska) from the Renewable Resources Coalition presented to the SWFFC, the club was really fired up about helping spread the word at their school and the broader Twin Cities area. Evan lined up the public meeting room at the local REI store to show Red Gold just last Friday. Here’s a report on their event…Evan and the SWFFC are an inspiration and terrific example of how we can each make a difference in shaping the future of places like Bristol Bay. Please let me know if you are interested in hosting a showing of Red Gold and/or Equilibrium in your area. We’ve got the materials to help make your event run smoothly.

The Southwest High School Fly Fishing Club “Movie Night” was a success! There were 30 people in attendance, many of them students from three area high schools, to view Red Gold. To entice students to participate, many teachers were willing to offer extra credit points. Everyone was given the Field & Stream article, “How You Can Help Save Bristol Bay” handout, and a “No Pebble Mine” sticker.

The Southwest High School Fly Fishing Club “Movie Night” was a success!

After viewing the movie, the students were asked to stay to talk about it more. Many of the 15 that stayed asked questions of club members Evan Griggs and Nick Hatzung, and they wanted to know what they can do to help get the word out or voice their opposition. It was also suggested that when school reconvenes in the fall, that the Club show the movie to the Southwest student body (1,700 students). Everyone agreed that they would help make such an event happen.

SWFFC Advisor, teacher Mitch Galinson, also spoke to the group about the power of education through an event such as this one. Learning doesn't always take place in a classroom; activities like this make a longer lasting impact on many people. He is proud to be a small part of the club, and to have the ability to create something that will outlast his tenure at the school.

After the discussion, everyone was invited to sign the petition and purchase t-shirts to support the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska.

Evan Griggs, President of SWFFC and organizer of the Movie Night, also showed Red Gold to two classes at the school. All told, he shared this valuable story with about 100 people this spring! The Club is looking forward to championing this cause again next school year for their community service project.

Bristol Bay Commercial Fishery Celebrates 125th Anniversary

Bristol Bay Commercial Fishery Celebrates 125th Anniversary

Read this opinion piece from the Anchorage Daily News about the impressive milestone the Bristol Bay fishery is hitting this season. While most sportspersons think about catching rainbows or salmon on rod & reel, the Bristol Bay fishery has supported a commercial fishing industry for 125 years. In the battle for Bristol Bay’s future, the commercial fishing industry is fighting alongside sport anglers and subsistence users of the Bay’s tremendous resources.

Bristol Bay Hunt Promotion to Draw Winner on Tuesday, June 16

In just a few short days – on Tuesday, June 16 at the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s conference - one lucky donor will be drawn as the winner for the Bristol Bay Hunt Promotion! If you’re interested in getting a chance at the prize package valued at nearly $12,000 make your donation online before noon (Eastern Time) on Tuesday, June 16. Thanks again to the sponsors of the promotion – Alaska Wilderness Trips, Kimber America, Leupold & Stevens, Sitka Gear, and Thanks also to all the magazines, web sites, radio hosts, blogs, etc. that helped spread the word.

2010 Sport Show Season – A First Call for Volunteers

Hard to believe it’s already time to start looking ahead to the winter of 2010! Due to the generosity of show organizers that want to help us spread the word about Alaska conservation, the SAA will have many opportunities to exhibit at sporting shows across the country again this coming winter. Last year many terrific individuals lent their time and enthusiasm about Alaska by volunteering at shows in their area. From reports, everyone enjoyed themselves and was interested in helping again. Your assistance is greatly appreciated and extremely valuable. With the present state of the economy, the SAA (like everyone else) is trying to tighten its budgetary belt while still maintaining a presence at these shows. It will be even more important to enlist the support of volunteers if we are to keep spreading the word about Alaska conservation battles like Bristol Bay.

Please let me know if you are interested in assisting at any of the following shows that the SAA has been invited to exhibit at in 2010. We’ll start building teams of volunteers for each show and by the time the fall rolls around we should have a good plan in place.

January 7-10

Dallas Safari Club convention (Dallas, TX)

January 7-10

Int’l Sportsman’s Exposition (Denver, CO)

January 8-10

The Fly Fishing Show (Denver, CO)

January 14-17

Int’l Sportsman’s Exposition (San Mateo, CA)

January 15-17

The Fly Fishing Show (Marlborough, MA)

January 22-24

The Fly Fishing Show (Somerset, NJ)

January 29-30

The Fly Fishing Show (Charlotte, NC)

February 20-21

The Fly Fishing Show (Bellevue, WA)

February 26-28

Int’l Sportsman’s Exposition (Glendale, AZ)

February 26-28

The Fly Fishing Show (Pleasanton, CA)

March 4-7

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation convention (Reno, NV)

March 13-14

The Fly Fishing Show (Pasadena, CA)

March 18-21

Int’l Sportsman’s Exposition (Salt Lake City, UT)

Who Wants to Catch the “Tarpon of the Tundra?” (August 30 – September 8, 2009)

For those seeking a remote rafting adventure that includes the best fishing in the Brooks Range, check out this trip on the Kobuk River with Arctic Wild. The Kobuk has the best fishing of any Brooks Range River. It is home to Arctic Grayling, voracious Northern Pike, and the world famous Kobuk River Sheefish. For a terrific profile of the Sheefish, check out this information from Fish Alaska Magazine. The Kobuk River is home to the largest population of Sheefish, along with the largest individual fish – averaging 15 to 25 pounds, with some fish exceeding 40 pounds!

That’ll do it for this edition of the SAA News. Have a great start to your summer, and we’ll be back in touch in a month or so.

Thanks for all you do for Alaska conservation!

Scott Hed
Director – Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska

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