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Still Saving Bristol Bay

February 13, 2013
Filed in: Conservation

Still Saving Bristol Bay - Judith O'Keefe

Words by Judith O’Keefe.

Last May, I wrote about a trip I took to our nation’s capitol as part of a contingency of sportsmen and women gathered together by Trout Unlimited/Save Bristol Bay.  We descended on Washington D.C. to ask our elected officials to support the Environmental Protection Agency in it’s effort to utilize the Clean Water Act to save the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska from a proposed massive open-pit mine.

Trout Unlimited has just issued a statement expressing its disappointment in learning that, as of Feb. 5, the EPA has decided to conduct a second, potentially lengthy, review of its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.

Tim Bristol, Alaska Program Director for Trout Unlimited, responds, “While we appreciate this Administration’s efforts to survey the risks and impacts of large-scale mining on the world-class natural resources and fisheries of Bristol Bay with sound science, the EPA has already gone above and beyond the letter of the law in drafting its Assessment and conducting an independent and transparent review of it.  This added delay is unacceptable to Bristol Bay’s communities and stakeholders, and leaves a dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over Bristol Bay’s 14,000 jobs and its commercial and sport fishing industries.”

As one fellow supporter of Save Bristol Bay put it, “It is the classic example of the relentless pressure that extractive resource corporate lobbyists can put on the government, even when the consequences are going to be disastrous.”

It now seems the need for EPA action is even more apparent as a result of recent attempts in Alaska to ease mining regulations and make it easier for the proposed Pebble Mine to move forward. EPA action is the only way to ensure that reasonable restrictions are in place to ensure the health of Bristol Bay’s watershed, jobs, sustainable industries and unparalleled recreation.

Please join me and other sportsmen and women as we continue to make our voices heard on this issue of unparalleled importance.  To find out how you can help, visit Trout Unlimited’s website here.

Red Gold | trailer from FELT SOUL MEDIA on Vimeo.

Make sure to share this article with your networks, friends, and families.  This is an extremely important conservation topic right now, and we need your support.  Agree or disagree?  Leave your comments below!



  • Trout Unlimited has just issued a statement expressing its disappointment …………I am expressing my joy in the fact that the EPA is doing this, because I was not aware that the first one was even legal , ( and way to have the first meeting in Seatle EPA not Alaska doesnt show any bias) You all want to save this or that yet you never want to give up the things that come from natural resources, and Filson that would included alot of the things you use in your products ! I thing there needs to be alot of good science on both sides before any decision is made and maybe a few more open minds would help……..

    Posted by kate johnson | February 13, 2013 at 3:36 pm
  • Thank you Filson. What EPA is doing is very legal. I do believe EPA had 8 meetings in the state of AK, as well as another public science review in Anchorage. I am yet to see Pebble go to the Bay and hold meetings with local people. Stand up for quality Science, Stand up for clean water and the jobs they produce.

    Posted by D.Meadows | February 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm
  • Thanks for the helpful update, Judith. It’s continued leadership and pressure from folks like you who will help the president see that Bristol Bay’s jobs, natural resources, fish and wildlife are incredibly valuable and unique and must be protected from mega mining.

    Posted by K Anderson | February 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm
  • The science is clear, the history record is clear. No mine of this size and type has been built without some serious impacts on its environment. I am one who has reviewed Pebble’s data as well as the EPA’s work. Pebble’s data shows that the waters of Bristol Bay are low in dissolved organics (ie soft), very neutral PH and that water moves freely between ground and surface. Pebble’s data also show that this mine will generate acid in periods of months to decades. And Pebble’s own data and leaders will admit that yes, 99% of what is dug up will be waste – potentially acid producing waste. In short, Pebble’s own data confirm that this mine will have unacceptable adverse impacts on Bristol Bay’s fishery. Let’s not even get into the impacts of copper on salmon. The science is clear, hands down.

    I get that I need materials and resources to type these comments on a computer with, but we also have to say no to some mines in particular locations, and this is one of them.

    Thank you Judith and thank you Filson for speaking up and urging EPA to do the right thing to protect a thriving ecosystem that supports thousands of jobs and a significant economy. The state of Alaska is doing nothing to listen to the people of Bristol Bay and concerns of its stakeholders, so again, thank you EPA.

    Posted by ss | February 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm
  • I was inspired to build the Bristol Bay Wild River Guide business featured inTrout Unlimited’s “Last Cast” film. The folks who I admired were old school Alaska sourdoughs like Jay Hammond and Celia Hunter as well as the remaining few who hunted, trapped, had fish wheels, and lived in the bush. All the old timers that I knew had Filson gear if they could afford it.

    Today Alaskans that really love the outdoors, even the pro-developement minded guys like Rick Halford have come to see that developing the Pebble will destroy the greatest sustainable salmon and wild rainbow fishery in the world. Come up and spend some time there with me and see for yourself.

    Posted by MARK RUTHERFORD | February 16, 2013 at 5:38 pm

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