January 20th, 2012 by Carl
Many of you may or may not be aware of this critical issue. A proposed open-pit mine in Alaska, in the heart of the Bristol Bay watershed, potentially threatens some of the wildest and vital land in Alaska. The salmon fishery of Bristol Bay is one of the world’s most productive fisheries. It is also the pulse of a vibrant and productive ecosystem that’s home to the great coastal brown bears of Katmai National Park and surrounding regions. The bears we love to see and photograph grow fat on the riches of spawning salmon. The bald eagles that gather in the thousands every summer here thrive on spawning salmon.
The proposed mine, the Pebble Limited Partnership, would create a “10-square-mile-wide containment pond are intended to hold between 2.5 billion and 10 billion tons of mine waste that Pebble would produce over its lifetime”, a 700′ tall dam wall and several miles in length. One of the largest mines in the world, it’s expected to span a 20 mile swathe of Alaska State land. The acidic nature of the waste would require environmental treatment and monitoring for years to come. The potential devastation if something goes awry here, in the land of frequent volcanic and seismic activity, would be immeasurable.
The Stop Pebble Mine movement has garnered strong grassroots local support, from commercial fishermen, local subsistence community, adventure tourism and guiding folks such as myself. Several organizations are working hard to resist this mining proposal. Trout Unlimited are one group, as are Renewable Resources Coalition and Alaska Center for the Environment.
While Pebble Mine is perhaps more of a local issue issue for Alaskans because it’s on state, not federal land, it reaches everyone across country. People come from all over the world to the Alaska Peninsula to view and photograph the great brown bears that feed on salmon here. I think it’s imperative that the photography community get behind the Stop Pebble Mine program, and do what we can to have a collective voice heard. I hope that all those other photo tour operators from across the world who come to photograph these great bears will rise to the call and say No to Pebble Mine.
Below I’ve posted a couple of videos that offer an introduction and cursory look to this question. I’d urge you all to watch these, and get involved in resisting the proposed mine. Surely shiny metals in the ground are not all that matter.
Below is a video by Corey Rich, from a trip on the Chilikadrotna River he and Daniel Duane wrote for Men’s Journal in 2008. Used by courtesy from Daniel Duane, Corey Rich. Definitely take a moment to read the article.
Alaska Dispatch has a good read on the subject here.