Summertime evokes images of the Nushagak and Kvichak rivers in Alaska running red with millions of returning salmon. Of ocean-like Lake Iliamna teaming with some of the largest and strongest rainbows on the planet. Bristol Bay is a truly extraordinary place, all who fish its waters are left in awe.
But this singularly remarkable place is under threat like never before. Yes, the Pebble Mine fight has slogged on for years, but right now I feel that we are at the final crossroad. Will we protect the most productive wild salmon ecosystem in the world? Or we will give it all away for a copper and gold mine developed by international corporations who can devastate the fishery without consequence.
The current Administration and mining companies are determined to get Pebble Mine permitted at unprecedented speed—completely disregarding the millions of Americans from the lower 48 who have spoken out against Pebble and a groundswell of Alaskans that continue to fight it. This push continues despite shaky financing of the mine. In May, yet another investor, First Quantum Minerals, dropped out of their agreement to finance the development of Pebble Mine alongside fellow Canadian mining company Northern Dynasty. But Northern Dynasty is forging ahead, fueled by federal support, undeterred. CEO Tom Collier’s public response to the Quantum announcement was that the mine will continue through federal permitting, and the company remains confident about finding another investor to fund development of the mine.
The unrelenting pressure to move Pebble forward at the federal level means that pushback will have to come from state-driven fish protections. The good news? There is a solution at the ballot box that we can all support. Alaskans will have the opportunity to modernize their state fish habitat protection and permitting laws through a ballot measure this November. If passed, it will create clear, science-based standards for responsible development. But we must all put our full weight behind it if we want to save the world-class wild salmon fisheries of Bristol Bay. This is our last gasp to stop Pebble Mine.
A statewide coalition known as Stand for Salmon is behind this effort: a broad-based coalition that includes our friends at Wild Salmon Center as well as other conservation partners, commercial and sport fishermen, small businesses, and Alaska Native communities—along with tens of thousands of residents across the state.
An opposition group, led by Pebble and several other international mining companies, has raised nearly $5 million—$1.6 million in just one week alone—to fight this initiative. They’ve launched a digital advertising campaign to discredit the initiative that’s stretching the truth beyond recognition.
Stand for Salmon will be striking back with their own ad campaign this summer, and hitting the streets to canvass door-to-door and connect with voters at festivals and dockside gatherings in fishing communities. This strong ground game needs even stronger financial support from salmon-lovers around the country to get their message in front of Alaskans up until election day on November 6th.
This campaign is not only about saving Bristol Bay; it’s about securing the long-term health of some of the world’s most important salmon rivers and the communities that depend on them. Alaska has a short window of time to avoid the mistakes of the Lower 48, where salmon habitat has suffered, and resuscitation requires multi-billion-dollar, tax-payer funded recovery projects.
The time is now to step up to stop Pebble Mine and large-scale, “worst of the worst development projects” in Alaska.
Please join me in supporting this effort to safeguard Bristol Bay—and spectacular wild salmon rivers across Alaska—by adding your name to this movement and visiting Stand for Salmon to make a contribution today.