Sporting groups nationwide vow to engage in fight to protect Bristol Bays fish and wildlife resources

Sioux Falls, SD -- Sporting groups around the country are mobilizing to keep federal lands in Bristol Bay area closed to mining. While the State of Alaska reviews proposals for the massive Pebble Mine, the Alaska Bureau of Land Management just released its draft Resource Management Plan for the Bay area. Sporting groups view BLM’s plan, in conjunction with the proposed Pebble Mine and other existing claims on nearby state lands, as the most serious threat in history to the fish and wildlife resources of the Bristol Bay region. The BLM plan covers 2.5 million acres of lands in the fisheries-rich Bristol Bay and Goodnews Bay region of Southwest Alaska, the majority of which is located directly downstream of the proposed Pebble mine. Alarmingly, the preferred alternative in the draft plan would lift existing prohibitions on mineral development on these lands. “The potential development in the region is scary for sportsmen. Each year fishermen make the trip to Alaska just for an opportunity to fish the famous Bristol Bay watershed. We’re joining the fight to stop federal plans that could help turn the entire Bristol Bay region into a massive mining district. Any person or company that takes an action which would diminish this fishery commits a crime against each of us, and against the people and natural resources of Alaska,” said R.P. Van Gytenbeek, President/CEO Federation of Fly Fishers. Sport fishermen spend nearly $120 million a year to experience the prize fishing in this area. In 2005, nearly 65,000 visitors came to this region for recreational opportunities to fish, hunt, and view wildlife. “Fly fishers view the Bristol Bay region as a world-class destination with a 30” rainbow trout taken in these waters regarded by many as the “holy grail” of a lifetime of fishing experiences. The members of our over 300 clubs cannot and will not sit on the sidelines of this battle,” noted Van Gytenbeek. While the threats to Bristol Bay’s superlative fisheries resources are well-documented, the wild habitats of the region support the 120,000-member Mulchatna caribou herd, as well as healthy populations of moose, grizzly and brown bears, wolves, bald eagles, migratory waterfowl, and other species. Future mineral development on BLM lands and adjacent State of Alaska lands threatens to jeopardize water quality, riparian habitat, caribou calving grounds and winter range, as well as their traditional migration routes. “Some wildlife can co-exist with human development. But Alaska’s grizzly bears and wild moose populations cannot coexist with the open pit mining proposed for the Pebble site. The BLM’s plan would seriously increase threats for the area’s wildlife,” said Jay Bellinger, Board of Directors for Wildlife Forever and retired manager of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. “The need for good seasonal habitat and lack of disturbance are not negotiable for bears, they’re necessities. So big game hunters do face an either/or choice from BLM. Hunters are asking, how many places in the world can be mined for jewelry and how many places provide wilderness setting hunting for bears, moose and caribou? We can’t have both industrial mining in Southwest Alaska and the hunting experience we’ve had for generations,” he added. The list of individuals and groups opposing or voicing concern over the mining plans in Bristol Bay continues to grow and includes the Safari Club International, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the National Wildlife Federation, Alaska's U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, and the Alaska Intertribal Council. Numerous Alaskan villages affected in the Bristol Bay drainage have passed resolutions in opposition to the Pebble Mine. The Alaska Independent Fishermen’s Marketing Association has expressed its opposition as well, marking an instance where commercial, sport, and subsistence users are allied against a common foe. In addition to all of these concerns, American Rivers named the threatened Bristol Bay watershed one of the nation’s Top 10 Most Endangered Rivers of 2006. “If there's a spill into Bristol Bay rivers, it's going to be a disaster,” said Scott Hed, Outreach Director for the Sportsmen’s Alliance for Alaska. “Rod and reel club members around the country are taking up arms on this with our votes, donations and political connections. This is no flash in the pan interest. Starting with keeping resources on the BLM lands in Bristol Bay closed to mining, we want to preserve this wild and productive area.” Sporting groups from across the country are increasing their involvement in the fate of Alaska’s public lands. Dozens of groups weighed in with BLM over Alaska’s Ring of Fire and Kobuk-Seward draft Resource Management Plans in the past year. Due to the high international concern over Bristol Bay mining plans, many more hunters, fishermen, lodge owners and sporting clubs are expected to contact BLM asking the agency to retain existing prohibitions on mineral development on federal lands in the Bay area. Background Bristol Bay = International Fishing and Hunting Mecca The stakes are high for sporting interests in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, an area that is home to the world’s largest wild salmon runs as well as some of the greatest trophy rainbow trout fishing on the planet. It’s a wild, remote and rugged place that is in the crosshairs of a plan to develop a massive mining district on millions of acres of state and federal lands. Commercial, sport, and subsistence fishing all depend on the wild salmon supported by Bristol Bay's healthy waters. Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest commercial wild salmon fishery, with earnings accounting for nearly 33% of Alaska's total harvest earnings. The harvest and processing of Bristol Bay fish generates nearly $320 million a year and provides jobs for some 12,500 people. And for nearly 9,000 years, Alaska natives have lived off Bristol Bay's land, waters, and of course, its fish. Mining development puts all this and much more at risk. BLM’s Plan Held Promise, But Best Choice For Fish And Game Not Chosen The BLM plan’s “conservation-oriented” alternative considers designating a nearly 1 million acre Area of Critical Environmental Concern for the BLM-managed portions of rivers in the Bristol Bay watershed, located downstream of the proposed Pebble Mine. This conservation option would allow mineral development to occur and would apply minor management measures to help protect wildlife, fisheries, botanical, cultural, and scenic values, as well as the sustainable resources that the residents of 25 rural Alaskan Native communities depend upon to support their traditional subsistence way-of-life. Unfortunately, BLM’s “preferred” alternative proceeds to open the entire planning area to mineral development, ignoring unanimous public concern and refusing to prioritize even minor special conservation measures for the watershed. Public support is needed now to encourage the agency to adopt stronger protections for the salmon spawning grounds of Bristol Bay rivers in the Final BLM plan, expected to be released in September 2007. Comments are due to BLM by January 5, 2007, and should be sent via mail to: BLM Anchorage Field Office, Attn: Bay RMP, 6881 Abbott Loop Road, Anchorage, AK 99507 Or submitted via e-mail to: [email protected] Public meetings and Subsistence hearings are set for Anchorage, Bristol Bay and Goodnews Bay areas: Anchorage Nov. 28, 2006 BLM Anchorage Field Office 6-9 p.m. (no subsistence hearing) Goodnews Bay Dec. 1, 2006 Community Hall 12 - 4 p.m. Dillingham Dec. 2, 2006 City Hall Council Chambers 12 - 4 p.m. Alegnagik Dec. 2, 2006 ATC Building 6 - 10 p.m. New Stuyahok Dec. 4, 2006 Village Council Building 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Naknek Dec. 5, 2006 Borough Office 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Newhalen Dec. 6, 2006 Teen Center 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. For more information on BLM’s plan see: www.alaskacoalition.org http://www.blm.gov/ak/ado/BayRMP01.html Looming Threat of Largest Mine in North America, Dam Larger than Hoover Dam To date, the proposed Pebble Mine has garnered much of the attention – and rightfully so. It would be the largest open pit mine in North America, take water from critical salmon rearing streams of the Bristol Bay, and disturb core wildlife habitat for key game species. In applications to the State of Alaska, the developer has detailed plans that include a 15 square-mile complex with an open pit measuring approximately two miles long, a mile and half wide, and 1,700 feet deep. To build the tailings storage facilities, the developer proposes taking water from several critical salmon and trout streams and retaining the water behind some of the largest dams on the planet, which would eliminate several miles of streams. Two earthen dams would be constructed in this earthquake prone zone, ranging from 740 feet high and 4.3 miles long, to 700 feet high and 2.9 miles long. The larger dam would be higher than the Hoover Dam or the Grand Coulee Dam which are made of much hardier concrete. The water sought by the mining company each day amounts to three times the daily water usage of Anchorage, AK (pop. 277,000). The Pebble Mine would also anchor a massive mining district that includes BLM lands covered in the draft Resource Management Plan that is currently open for comment. # Scott Brennan Executive Vice President Chief Operating Officer Renewable Resources Coalition, Inc. 500 L Street, Suite 502 Anchorage, AK 99501 Telephone: (907) 632-9933 Fax: (907) 272-9319 [email protected] http://www.renewableresourcescoalition.org Sioux Falls, SD -- Sporting groups around the country are mobilizing to keep federal lands in Bristol Bay area closed to mining. While the State of Alaska reviews proposals for the massive Pebble Mine, the Alaska Bureau of Land Management just released its draft Resource Management Plan for the Bay area. Sporting groups view BLM’s plan, in conjunction with the proposed Pebble Mine and other existing claims on nearby state lands, as the most serious threat in history to the fish and wildlife resources of the Bristol Bay region. The BLM plan covers 2.5 million acres of lands in the fisheries-rich Bristol Bay and Goodnews Bay region of Southwest Alaska, the majority of which is located directly downstream of the proposed Pebble mine. Alarmingly, the preferred alternative in the draft plan would lift existing prohibitions on mineral development on these lands. “The potential development in the region is scary for sportsmen. Each year fishermen make the trip to Alaska just for an opportunity to fish the famous Bristol Bay watershed. We’re joining the fight to stop federal plans that could help turn the entire Bristol Bay region into a massive mining district. Any person or company that takes an action which would diminish this fishery commits a crime against each of us, and against the people and natural resources of Alaska,” said R.P. Van Gytenbeek, President/CEO Federation of Fly Fishers. Sport fishermen spend nearly $120 million a year to experience the prize fishing in this area. In 2005, nearly 65,000 visitors came to this region for recreational opportunities to fish, hunt, and view wildlife. “Fly fishers view the Bristol Bay region as a world-class destination with a 30” rainbow trout taken in these waters regarded by many as the “holy grail” of a lifetime of fishing experiences. The members of our over 300 clubs cannot and will not sit on the sidelines of this battle,” noted Van Gytenbeek. While the threats to Bristol Bay’s superlative fisheries resources are well-documented, the wild habitats of the region support the 120,000-member Mulchatna caribou herd, as well as healthy populations of moose, grizzly and brown bears, wolves, bald eagles, migratory waterfowl, and other species. Future mineral development on BLM lands and adjacent State of Alaska lands threatens to jeopardize water quality, riparian habitat, caribou calving grounds and winter range, as well as their traditional migration routes. “Some wildlife can co-exist with human development. But Alaska’s grizzly bears and wild moose populations cannot coexist with the open pit mining proposed for the Pebble site. The BLM’s plan would seriously increase threats for the area’s wildlife,” said Jay Bellinger, Board of Directors for Wildlife Forever and retired manager of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. “The need for good seasonal habitat and lack of disturbance are not negotiable for bears, they’re necessities. So big game hunters do face an either/or choice from BLM. Hunters are asking, how many places in the world can be mined for jewelry and how many places provide wilderness setting hunting for bears, moose and caribou? We can’t have both industrial mining in Southwest Alaska and the hunting experience we’ve had for generations,” he added. The list of individuals and groups opposing or voicing concern over the mining plans in Bristol Bay continues to grow and includes the Safari Club International, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the National Wildlife Federation, Alaska's U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, and the Alaska Intertribal Council. Numerous Alaskan villages affected in the Bristol Bay drainage have passed resolutions in opposition to the Pebble Mine. The Alaska Independent Fishermen’s Marketing Association has expressed its opposition as well, marking an instance where commercial, sport, and subsistence users are allied against a common foe. In addition to all of these concerns, American Rivers named the threatened Bristol Bay watershed one of the nation’s Top 10 Most Endangered Rivers of 2006. “If there's a spill into Bristol Bay rivers, it's going to be a disaster,” said Scott Hed, Outreach Director for the Sportsmen’s Alliance for Alaska. “Rod and reel club members around the country are taking up arms on this with our votes, donations and political connections. This is no flash in the pan interest. Starting with keeping resources on the BLM lands in Bristol Bay closed to mining, we want to preserve this wild and productive area.” Sporting groups from across the country are increasing their involvement in the fate of Alaska’s public lands. Dozens of groups weighed in with BLM over Alaska’s Ring of Fire and Kobuk-Seward draft Resource Management Plans in the past year. Due to the high international concern over Bristol Bay mining plans, many more hunters, fishermen, lodge owners and sporting clubs are expected to contact BLM asking the agency to retain existing prohibitions on mineral development on federal lands in the Bay area. Background Bristol Bay = International Fishing and Hunting Mecca The stakes are high for sporting interests in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, an area that is home to the world’s largest wild salmon runs as well as some of the greatest trophy rainbow trout fishing on the planet. It’s a wild, remote and rugged place that is in the crosshairs of a plan to develop a massive mining district on millions of acres of state and federal lands. Commercial, sport, and subsistence fishing all depend on the wild salmon supported by Bristol Bay's healthy waters. Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest commercial wild salmon fishery, with earnings accounting for nearly 33% of Alaska's total harvest earnings. The harvest and processing of Bristol Bay fish generates nearly $320 million a year and provides jobs for some 12,500 people. And for nearly 9,000 years, Alaska natives have lived off Bristol Bay's land, waters, and of course, its fish. Mining development puts all this and much more at risk. BLM’s Plan Held Promise, But Best Choice For Fish And Game Not Chosen The BLM plan’s “conservation-oriented” alternative considers designating a nearly 1 million acre Area of Critical Environmental Concern for the BLM-managed portions of rivers in the Bristol Bay watershed, located downstream of the proposed Pebble Mine. This conservation option would allow mineral development to occur and would apply minor management measures to help protect wildlife, fisheries, botanical, cultural, and scenic values, as well as the sustainable resources that the residents of 25 rural Alaskan Native communities depend upon to support their traditional subsistence way-of-life. Unfortunately, BLM’s “preferred” alternative proceeds to open the entire planning area to mineral development, ignoring unanimous public concern and refusing to prioritize even minor special conservation measures for the watershed. Public support is needed now to encourage the agency to adopt stronger protections for the salmon spawning grounds of Bristol Bay rivers in the Final BLM plan, expected to be released in September 2007. Comments are due to BLM by January 5, 2007, and should be sent via mail to: BLM Anchorage Field Office, Attn: Bay RMP, 6881 Abbott Loop Road, Anchorage, AK 99507 Or submitted via e-mail to: [email protected] Public meetings and Subsistence hearings are set for Anchorage, Bristol Bay and Goodnews Bay areas: Anchorage Nov. 28, 2006 BLM Anchorage Field Office 6-9 p.m. (no subsistence hearing) Goodnews Bay Dec. 1, 2006 Community Hall 12 - 4 p.m. Dillingham Dec. 2, 2006 City Hall Council Chambers 12 - 4 p.m. Alegnagik Dec. 2, 2006 ATC Building 6 - 10 p.m. New Stuyahok Dec. 4, 2006 Village Council Building 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Naknek Dec. 5, 2006 Borough Office 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Newhalen Dec. 6, 2006 Teen Center 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. For more information on BLM’s plan see: www.alaskacoalition.org http://www.blm.gov/ak/ado/BayRMP01.html Looming Threat of Largest Mine in North America, Dam Larger than Hoover Dam To date, the proposed Pebble Mine has garnered much of the attention – and rightfully so. It would be the largest open pit mine in North America, take water from critical salmon rearing streams of the Bristol Bay, and disturb core wildlife habitat for key game species. In applications to the State of Alaska, the developer has detailed plans that include a 15 square-mile complex with an open pit measuring approximately two miles long, a mile and half wide, and 1,700 feet deep. To build the tailings storage facilities, the developer proposes taking water from several critical salmon and trout streams and retaining the water behind some of the largest dams on the planet, which would eliminate several miles of streams. Two earthen dams would be constructed in this earthquake prone zone, ranging from 740 feet high and 4.3 miles long, to 700 feet high and 2.9 miles long. The larger dam would be higher than the Hoover Dam or the Grand Coulee Dam which are made of much hardier concrete. The water sought by the mining company each day amounts to three times the daily water usage of Anchorage, AK (pop. 277,000). The Pebble Mine would also anchor a massive mining district that includes BLM lands covered in the draft Resource Management Plan that is currently open for comment. # Scott Brennan Executive Vice President Chief Operating Officer Renewable Resources Coalition, Inc. 500 L Street, Suite 502 Anchorage, AK 99501 Telephone: (907) 632-9933 Fax: (907) 272-9319 [email protected] http://www.renewableresourcescoalition.org