Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pebble Mine Project Updated

Dear Fishermen,
Welcome home! Thanks for signing up for the fisherman’s list-serve this summer. Here is a brief update on the resistance effort to the proposed Pebble project and hardrock mining in the BB watershed. Two main happenings over the summer included:

1) Two law suites were filed by Bristol Bay residents and stakeholders against the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
NonDalton, et. al vs. State et. al.: The main premise of the complaint is seeking to overturn the State of Alaska’s current Bristol Bay Area Plan for State Lands (BBAP). The BBAP is the State of Alaska’s principal land use plan applicable to all state-owned lands and waters, i.e., about 12 million acres in the Bristol Bay drainages of Southwest Alaska, where the proposed Pebble mine would be located on state-owned land. It was adopted by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2005 and ordinarily would have about a 20-year life. Unless overturned, the permits for a Pebble mine will be adjudicated under the 2005 BBAP. The earlier 1984 BBAP had classified almost the entire 12 million acres of state-owned uplands and shorelands in the Bristol Bay drainages, including the land at the Pebble claims, as wildlife habitat land. That meant that the land had to be managed for fish and wildlife habitat, even in the face of potential mineral development. The 2005 BBAP reclassifies the entire 12 million acres and reduces the amount of land classified as habitat to 768,000 acres, a 90-percent reduction, including the land at Pebble. The 2005 Plan reclassified the land as mineral land. That makes it much easier to develop a Pebble mine.

Since 2001 at least five former managers or registered lobbyists associated with the hardrock mining industry in Alaska, including the current Commissioner of Natural Resources, Tom Irwin, have assumed responsible management positions in DNR that have been central to the preparation, adoption and implementation of the 2005 BBAP. The Complaint alleges that, in preparing and adopting the 2005 BBAP, they committed numerous unlawful acts and omissions which are the basis of Plaintiffs’ eight causes of action.

Nunamta et. al. vs. State et. al.: A Bristol Bay Alaska Native organization and several individuals, including former Alaska First Lady Bella Hammond and Alaska Constitutional Convention delegate Victor Fischer, filed a civil suit in Anchorage Superior Court today asserting that the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) repeatedly violated the Alaska Constitution in granting permits for Pebble mine exploration. The lawsuit asserts that the agency failed to consider the public’s interest in sustaining the region’s rich salmon, wildlife, and subsistence resources, which are negatively affected by exploration activities. Plaintiffs are asking the court to halt exploration until the case is resolved.
2) Bristol Bay Salmon tastings and promotions targeting salmon consumers and the entire salmon market place were held to promote both Bristol Bay Salmon themselves and the fight for protecting our watershed. These events were sponsored by the WhyWild program at Trout Unlimited with support from the BBRSDA (that’s right, your tax dollars hard at work for you!) Here are a few links to press coverage of the event:,
Action Alert on BLM lands in Bristol Bay!
Here is where we need your help!
The new leadership at the Bureau of Land Management is currently deciding whether or not it will revise and improve the Bush administration's Bay Resource Management Plan which dictates how 1.5 million acres of the Bristol Bay watershed will be managed. The current plan opens 99% of these lands to oil and gas and hard rock mining development - opening the door for an industrial mining district on the federal public lands just south of the proposed Pebble Mine.

What you can do: Write or call both senators - Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich. Ask your senators to tell the BLM to protect the lands and rivers in Bristol Bay and revise the Bush administration's Resource Management Plan.

Note: Most of the time the receptionist will just take a message for the Senator. Make sure to speak clearly and tell them that you are a Bristol Bay Fisherman.

Contact information:

Senator Mark Begich:
(202) 224-3004

Senator Lisa Murkowski:
(202) 224-6665

If you are going to write a letter pls. send to Shoren Brown who will hand deliver to the Senators’ offices.

Shoren Brown
Director of Federal Salmon Policy
Trout Unlimited
1300 No 17th St., Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22209
Land: 703-284-9429
Cell: 703-581-9061

Upcoming Events:

* Saturday Aug. 22nd South Anchorage Farmers Market Bristol Bay Salmon Tasting/Promotion
* Sunday Aug. 30th Wild Salmon Day at the Alaska State Fair (Volunteers are still needed let us know if you can help!)
* Oct. 19-21st Bristol Bay Wild Salmon Tasting/Promotion and Lobbying visit in Washington D.C.
* Nov. 19-21 Fish Expo and No Pebble events in Seattle
* Dec. 1-8 Bristol Bay Board of Fish mtg. and Bristol Bay Salmon week in Anchorage (Much more on this to come, we will need everyone’s support!)

In Alaska Politics – Stay tuned for future updates on:
Rep. Bryce Edgmons HB 242 which imposes new information gathering and environmental protection requirements before permitting of any large-scale mining operations in the Bristol Bay watershed. HB 242 was introduced last April and is awaiting its first hearing in the House Fish Committee.

Board of Fish Proposal 13 asks the Board of Fish to make a recommendation, via resolution, to the Alaska State Legislature that additional regulatory protections be enacted as needed to ensure the continued health and viability of fish habitat in the headwaters specifically the Nushagak and Kvichak River Drainages and that any additional regulatory protections for fish habitat in these drainages would allow subsistence, recreational and commercial fishing, hunting, and trapping under state and federal regulations.
Thanks so much for reading this update. We’d love to hear feedback or suggestions for what you’d like to hear more about in the future. If you would like to be removed from this list simply reply to this email and let us know. If you have fellow fishermen friends who would like to be added to the list fwd this on and have them reply to us.

All the Best,
Lindsey, Kat, & Dylan


Cameron Mortenson said...

Thanks for the update and information.


Hi Cameron,

As we all know, this would be a huge disaster for all of us, if they get passed. Every time I think about the mine project, my heart sink. Very sad indeed.