August 18 , 2010 Newsletter
Here’s to hoping that your summer has been a good one so far. Hard to believe school is just around the corner. Make the most of the remaining warm days and get ready for fall hunting and fishing seasons. Before we get to the conservation news, there was some sad news last week.
I’m sure you’ve seen the tragic news of the plane crash that claimed the lives of five people, including former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. Accessing much of Alaska’s remote landscape often requires travel by small plane, so sadly accidents such as this are not unheard of. This one has received more attention due to the notoriety of the passengers. If you care to read a detailed account (as it currently stands), the Anchorage Daily News has done a good job. I’d like to pass along deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and wishes for a speedy and full recovery for those hospitalized in this accident. I’d also like to recognize the efforts of those involved with the rescue and recovery operation. Finally, here’s to safe travels to all who are still fishing, hunting, and running lodges and camps in Alaska this season.
I’ll hit the major news highlights here, but there’s much more found at the Latest News page on the SAA site.
Bristol Bay: EPA Role in Pebble Coming to the Forefront
The top official at the Environmental Protection Agency spent time in Alaska in late July, learning about a number of issues. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson visited Dillingham and heard local residents’ concerns over the proposed Pebble Mine project. The EPA will have a major role in the permitting process for Pebble…something that apparently rubs Rep. Don Young (R-AK) the wrong way. Two days after Jackson’s visit to Dillingham, Young introduced a bill aimed at stripping EPA's veto authority under the Clean Water Act – something that was met with harsh criticism by local interests. Lastly, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation has joined the call for EPA to take action. You can be sure there will be much more to come on this matter…
Bristol Bay: Hunters Join the Battle for Bristol Bay
SAA has worked with hundreds of companies, fishing clubs, and lodges in the world of sport fishing. The campaign to protect the waters and lands in the Bristol Bay region is often characterized as a fisheries issue. However, that’s only part of the story. As the sport hunting world is becoming more educated on the situation, more hunting groups and businesses are joining the fight. SAA placed an article in the Fall 2010 issue of Trophy Hunter magazine which features a terrific collection of statements from hunting guides, hunting conservation groups, and companies in the hunting products industry…all in support of keeping mines out of Bristol Bay. In coming weeks, there will be further news along on this front. Stay tuned!
Bristol Bay: Independent Third Party Study of Potential Mine Impacts Survives Funding Veto
As you may recall from the June SAA News, the 2010 Alaska legislature set aside $750,000 for a study of the potential impacts of large mine development in the Bristol Bay region. Backers of the Pebble Mine project weren’t keen to the idea and lobbied Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell to veto funding for the study. Thankfully, the funding was not vetoed and lawmakers are working on next steps. The state's forthcoming study notwithstanding, the Pebble Partnership announced its own series of science panels to examine potential impacts of developing the mine.
Bristol Bay: Pebble Opponents Score Court Victory
A state judge has declined to dismiss a court case alleging that state regulators violated the Alaska state constitution when they issued exploration and land-use permits to companies drilling at the site of the proposed Pebble Mine. The case is now scheduled to go to trial in December.
Bristol Bay: Pebble Partner Acquires Additional Holdings in Bristol Bay
Northern Dynasty Minerals, one of the partners in the proposed Pebble Mine, recently picked up some neighboring leases adding 23 square miles to its holdings in the Bristol Bay region. Click here to view an updated map of the existing mining claims on state lands in the Bristol Bay region. In addition to the proposed Pebble Mine, there are several other companies waiting in the wings, with a total of nearly 800 square miles of claims.
Bristol Bay: Another Big Year for Commercial Fishing
Read the Bristol Bay Times for a July 17 update on the commercial sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay. The projected commercial harvest was 30.5 million fish, and the latest official state report showed a harvest of 28.7 million out of a total run of 40.2 million sockeye through July 27.
Tongass National Forest: Revisions to Sealaska Lands Bill Not Good Enough
S. 881, the “Sealaska Lands Bill,” remains a very controversial piece of legislation as it would transfer federal public lands to a private corporation for clearcut logging and other development. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released revisions to her original bill, but the revisions failed to soften opposition from local communities as well as hunting and fishing interests. In late July, 58 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to House committee leaders asking that S.881 not be included in any omnibus public lands legislation. For a historical perspective on the bill and Southeast Alaska lands issues, check out this opinion piece from a Univ. of Alaska Anchorage history professor. Stand by for further news and be ready to take action to defeat S.881 should it re-emerge after the summer Congressional recess. Better to go back to the drawing board and engage all the user groups on the Tongass – including anglers and hunters – to find a lasting solution.
Tongass National Forest: SAA Hosts Outdoor Writers on Prince of Wales Island Trip
In late July, SAA was joined by three outdoor writers on a trip to Southeast Alaska to learn about issues facing America's largest National Forest and enjoy some fishing of course. The US Forest Service was instrumental in execution of the trip, and USFS staff gave our group tours of a few restoration projects to enhance fish and game habitat on Prince of Wales Island. Thanks also are due to Alaska's Boardwalk Lodge and Fireweed Lodge for the fine accommodations and fishing! Look for stories in the future from Fly Fish America, Sporting Classics, Salmon-Trout-Steelhead, and more as a result of this great trip.
SAA group visits the Big Lake fish pass
Donate to SAA
Spoiler Alert: Here’s the part where SAA asks for some money. Seriously, SAA is grateful for the generous support of individuals, businesses, and foundations. Your donations allow SAA to continue to work on efforts to protect prime fishing and hunting habitats in the Last Frontier for the benefit of current and future sportsmen and women. We’re running a few special donation promotions with the following items available. Make your donations online at the secure SAA donation page; all amounts are accepted and appreciated! For donations of the following amounts, please indicate what item you’d like to receive in the “comment” box on the donation page.
$15 Abel “No Pebble Mine” coaster for your favorite beverage
$25 Red Gold documentary on DVD
$25 Ray Troll art “Over Our Dead Salmon” t-shirt (ltd. quantities, specify L or XL)
$50 Salmon in the Trees coffee table Tongass picture book (only five available)
Thanks for whatever you’re able to contribute to help secure a future for Alaska – a place unlike any other!
Follow the Bristol Bay Campaign on Twitter and Upload your “No Pebble” Pics on Flickr
Random Other Stuff
The SAA just returned from attending the biggest sport fishing trade show (ICAST) and the huge Outdoor Retailer show, working to make more manufacturers aware of Alaska conservation campaigns. Unlikely as it may seem, one of the biggest brands in bass fishing (Strike King) says “No Pebble Mine!” Check p. 47 of their online catalog for proof. As anglers, we’re all in this together.
If you’re going to be at the FFF Conclave in West Yellowstone in a few weeks, I’ll be in the FFF Conservation Committee booth on August 26 – stop by to hear the latest Alaska news. Pretty soon we’ll have word on the coming winter sport show season, so stand by for volunteer opportunities.
Best wishes for a successful and safe end of summer in your outdoor adventures! Make sure to get out as much as possible with your family and friends, and when possible introduce someone new to the outdoors. Thanks for caring about Alaska conservation.
Director – Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska
A fine mixed bag from a day on the saltwater in Southeast Alaska!
(From L): SAA Director Scott Hed, C. Battles, R. McKinney, L. Allen and a bunch of salmon, halibut and rockfish.