Pebble Mine and Protecting Pebble Creek

January 20th, 2012 by Carl D
Brown bears at Brooks Falls, in Katmai National Park, watch a spawning Sockeye Salmon attempt to leap up the waterfall. Brown bear, or grizzly bear (Ursus arctos), Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
Brown bears at Brooks Falls, in Katmai National Park, watch a spawning Sockeye Salmon attempt to leap up the waterfall. Brown bear, or grizzly bear (Ursus arctos), Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click on the image above to view a larger version of this photo.

Hey Folks,

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 Stop Pebble Mine. NRDC are also staunch opponents to the proposal.

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.


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2 Responses to “Pebble Mine and Protecting Pebble Creek”

  1. Travis Ehrenstrom

    Carl, this is an issue that speaks to me dearly. I’ve visited Alaska many times, for it’s unparalleled, massive, natural beauty. Being an Oregonian, most stories I hear from Alaska seem to put the Government at odds with environmental legislation. As a resident, do you feel like the government is in the favor of protecting natural environment, or for the most part only interested in financial investment? It’s so sad to see yet another beautiful landscape fall victim to money. Good luck fighting the good fight!

  2. Hey Travis

    Thanks for the reply. IMO, the gov seems to, of late, be more and more for short term financial investment and and development, favoring mostly bigger business and extractive resource development, over sustainable and greener options. “Protecting the natural environment” doesn’t seem to be a high priority at all, unfortunately.



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