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

July 31, 2009 Newsletter

I hope that you’ve been having a terrific summer. Hard to believe we’re already past the longest days of the year. Folks are fishing their home waters, maybe taking some trips, and getting ready for hunting seasons that are coming up faster than it seems possible.

Nicki and her 35# king salmon

I need to get something out of the way right at the start.

Since I’m a man of my word…in last month’s newsletter I made the following remark: 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.)

We had a tremendous time – beautiful weather nearly every day (although it’s very apparent that many places in Alaska could use some rain), great wildlife viewing in Denali and Kenai Fjords National Parks, and some terrific fishing for a few days out in the Bristol Bay area.

Without further ado, here’s a picture of Nicki and her 35# king salmon – a nice chrome buck. With the help of the fine folks at Rapids Camp Lodge, we landed 11 king salmon that day! Nicki caught the biggest, and also the most (but not by much). I think she now has a better appreciation for why I’m on the road so much during sport show season, spreading the word about why we need to fight for Bristol Bay and its amazing fishery resources.

Don’t feel bad for me though. I landed a king nearly as large that day, and I also caught some nice rainbows and sockeye on my fly rod the next day.

Let’s get to the news. A lot’s been happening. You can also find a bunch of recent news articles, including good pieces from Time magazine and Outside magazine on the Latest News page of the SAA Web site.

Bristol Bay Residents Assert Pebble Exploration Violates State Constitution
A Bristol Bay Alaska Native organization and several individuals, including former Alaska First Lady Bella Hammond and Alaska Constitutional Convention delegate Victor Fischer, filed a civil suit in Anchorage Superior Court on Wednesday, July 29th asserting that the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) repeatedly violated the Alaska Constitution in granting permits for Pebble mine exploration. The lawsuit asserts that the agency failed to consider the public’s interest in sustaining the region’s rich salmon, wildlife, and subsistence resources, which are negatively affected by exploration activities. Plaintiffs are asking the court to halt exploration until the case is resolved.

“DNR has neglected its legal and moral obligation to protect Bristol Bay’s subsistence resources,” said Bobby Andrew, spokesman for Nunamta Aulukestai, a lead plaintiff. “Current exploration is having a serious impact on water and wildlife, yet the agency continues to rubber stamp permits and ignore the public interest.”

The lawsuit asserts that DNR has violated multiple sections of Article VIII of the Alaska Constitution in repeatedly issuing exploration permits without public notice and without analyzing whether exploration or the mine itself are in the public interest.

Plaintiffs have asked the court for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the State from granting or extending permits for exploration and water use on mining claims held by the Pebble Limited Partnership, effectively stopping further exploration until the court makes a final decision – or until the State Legislature enacts a new regulatory framework for onshore mining exploration. The injunction would not apply to mining activities elsewhere in the state. Plaintiffs have also asked the court to void all exploration permits already issued by DNR to the Pebble Limited Partnership, Pebble East Corp., and Pebble West Corp.

Public interest law firm Trustees for Alaska filed the six-count civil action on behalf of Nunamta Aulukestai, an organization comprising eight Native village corporations, including Ekwok, Koliganek, New Stuyahok, Clarks Point, Aleknagik, Togiak, Manakotak and Dillingham. Joining in the suit as co-plaintiffs are Nondalton resident Jack Hobson, Nondalton resident Ricky Delkittie, Sr., Naknek resident Violet Willson, former Alaska First Lady Bella Hammond, and former Alaska legislator and Alaska Constitutional Convention delegate Victor Fischer.

Interview with fisheries biologist Dr. Carol Ann Woody
Dr. Carol Ann Woody has designed, supervised and published results of original research focused on salmonid behavior, genetics, life history, evolution, and management in the Kvichak and Tustumena watersheds of Alaska since 1991. She’s been doing a lot of field work the past few summers to document the fish resources around the site of the proposed Pebble Mine. (She’s also featured in the award-winning documentary Red Gold.) Read an interesting interview with Dr. Woody on

No Non-Resident Hunting Season for Famed Mulchatna Herd
While it cannot be said that Pebble Mine is to blame for this situation, there will be no hunting season for the Mulchatna caribou herd for non-resident hunters in 2009. Caribou herd sizes fluctuate for many reasons, including disease, quality of habitat and food availability, etc. The Mulchatna caribou herd has typically been the most accessible for non-resident hunters to pursue. This herd migrates through the Bristol Bay region and historically spends time in the area where the Pebble Mine is proposed to be built. I’d wager that a massive industrial mining district wouldn’t help the comeback of the Mulchatna herd in the future. For those interested in the Alaska hunting regulations, visit the ADF&G Web site. Details on the caribou units in question would be found in Units 17B, 17C, 19A, and 19B.

Bristol Bay Commercial Fishery Celebrates 125th Anniversary with Record Harvest Numbers
Bristol Bay fishermen harvested nearly 28 million salmon through July 12, by far exceeding the 20-year harvest average of 25 million reds in the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. Roughly 1,600 permit-holders participated this year in the Bristol Bay commercial season, including perhaps the most famous set-netter in the world (below). The Alaska Journal of Commerce has a good article on this season’s big harvest numbers.

Bristol Bay Commercial Fishery Celebrates 125th Anniversary with Record Harvest Numbers
Bristol Bay Commercial Fishery Celebrates 125th Anniversary with Record Harvest Numbers

BLM Director in Confirmation Process
Bob Abbey, a veteran public land policy leader from Nevada, has been nominated to serve as Director of the Bureau of Land Management, and is presently in the confirmation process. Once confirmed, it will be imperative that Mr. Abbey hear from concerned sportsmen and women from all across the nation regarding management of the BLM lands in the Bristol Bay region. This will be the first REAL opportunity for anglers and hunters from the Lower 48 to influence the conservation future of the Bristol Bay region. If a positive conservation management plan for the Bristol Bay BLM lands can be achieved it will send a strong message that federal agencies will closely scrutinize the proposed Pebble Mine project, which is located on state land.

Guide to Fishing Lodges of Bristol Bay

Good Guide to Fishing Lodges of Bristol Bay
John Randolph of Fly Fisherman Magazine, was one of the first people to help me make my contacts within the fly fishing industry. With John’s help, we began the ad project that has grown to over 160 companies in the sport fishing products industry lending their support to the Bristol Bay campaign. A few years back, John produced this Guide to Bristol Bay Fishing Lodges. Since it’s a few years old, some of the info and links may be outdated, but it provides a pretty good overview of the options in many areas of the Bristol Bay region. Keep in mind, however, that other opportunities such as camps and float trips are also available across the region. While we keep fighting for Bristol Bay, it’s good to dream of that trip-of-a-lifetime to the very waters at risk. (NOTE: While not a certainty, the SAA may organize a “trips only” auction in a few months for the summer of 2010. This would allow potential buyers a few extra months to plan for a trip to Bristol Bay next year. Keep your eyes and ears open for this potential event.)

Upcoming SAA Appearances
The SAA will be exhibiting at the following events in the next few months. Stop by the booth to see what’s happening with Alaska conservation issues affecting your opportunity to fish and hunt in the Last Frontier.

Want to Save Wild Salmon? Eat One!
Want to Save Wild Salmon? Eat One!
Click here to read a neat article about Trout Unlimited’s push to “vote with your fork for Bristol Bay.” They're encouraging consumers to be aware of the threat to the bay’s salmon fishery — the world’s largest.

2010 Sport Show Season – A Call for Volunteers

2010 Sport Show Season – A Call for Volunteers
As a result of last month’s mention of 2010 sport shows, a handful of energetic volunteers have already stepped forward to help spread the word about Alaska conservation in early 2010 – Thank you very much! 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.

These events (and others that may be added to the schedule) represent some of our best opportunities to alert anglers and hunters from across the nation to issues like the threats facing Bristol Bay and Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. I’ve found that once sportsmen and women are made aware of these issues, they most often want to know how they can help preserve the unrivaled opportunities to hunt and fish found in Alaska.

Please send me an e-mail ( 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

International Sportsmen’s Exposition (Denver, CO)

January 8-10

The Fly Fishing Show (Denver, CO)

January 14-17

International Sportsmen’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

International Sportsmen’s Exposition (Glendale, AZ)

February 26-28

The Fly Fishing Show (Pleasanton, CA)

March 4-7

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Annual Elk Camp & Expo (Reno, NV)

March 13-14

The Fly Fishing Show (Pasadena, CA)

March 18-21

International Sportsmen’s Exposition (Salt Lake City, UT)

That will do it for this month’s newsletter. I am hoping to have an update on happenings from the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska next month. Efforts continue there to engage the full spectrum of user groups in finding a lasting solution for management of our nation’s largest national forest. There are also some neat restoration projects being undertaken by Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups that should help fish and game habitat while providing “hard hat” jobs on the forest.

Thanks for caring about Alaska conservation. Good luck as summer turns toward fall.

Scott Hed
Director – Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska

My first sockeye on a fly. Taken in the mouth, and landed on a 5-weight. Yeah I know…I need to remember that advice when taking fish pictures – Take off the sunglasses!

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