Save Alaska's Wild Heritage in Bristol Bay

Greatest Wild Salmon Fishery on Earth Threatened by Poisonous Open-Pit Mining!

Alaska's Bristol Bay supports the largest sockeye salmon population in the world and is rich in wildlife including moose, brown bear and caribou. The surrounding wild lands are beautiful and pristine, which is what makes this area so uncommonly vital to wildlife and a thriving fishing and tourism economy.

Photo: Proposed Pebble Mine site; �Erin McKittrick

But Bristol Bay is threatened by plans for the largest open-pit gold and copper mine in North America, Pebble Mine, to be situated in the Bay's backcountry headwaters. To make matters worse, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning to revoke existing protections on another 3.6 million acres of public lands in this watershed, thereby making them available for commercial hard rock mining. This type of mining uses cyanide, sulfuric acid, and other toxic chemicals, poisons that are fatal to juvenile salmon and trout. The development and ensuing toxic waste could be devastating to wildlife and the local fishing and tourism economy.

Tell the BLM to abandon plans to open millions of acres in the Bristol Bay Watershed to mining!

I am writing to express my disappointment with the draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Bristol Bay and Goodnews Bay watersheds. I oppose the plan's preferred alternative D, which recommends opening over a million acres of pristine wild lands in these watersheds to hard rock mining, a dangerous move for fish and people living in the region. Not only would a mining district mar the region's remarkably wild and beautiful landscape, but it risks grave consequences for the health of all living things downstream.

The hard rock mining technique that would be employed by the proposed Pebble Mine uses cyanide and toxic chemicals that inevitably end up in the water supply. Even minute concentrations of these obvious poisons are fatal for the juvenile salmon and trout which spawn in the downstream BLM-managed rivers, not to mention other wildlife and people that consume the water. Bristol Bay is the largest salmon fishery in the world! This valuable fishery accounts for almost a third of Alaska's fishing economy, and is enormously dependent upon the watershed's pristine water quality. Mining in the headwaters of Bristol Bay is a losing gamble from a health and economic perspective.

I support alternative C's recommendation that the BLM lands in the Bristol Bay watershed be designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, to protect their superlative natural values. BLM lands in the Bay planning area should remain off-limits to mineral development in order to guarantee the protection of wildlife habitat and to ensure opportunities for the use and enjoyment of these resources by our nation's future generations.

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