WASHINGTON – Wildlife managers, natural resource biologists and administrators – all with extensive Alaskan experience – have united to urge President Obama to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay region from the dangers of the proposed Pebble Mine and to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s science-based work to conserve “one of the world’s most productive ecosystems,” the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership announced today.
“The proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay poses numerous significant and potentially long-lasting threats to one of the world’s foremost sport fishing and hunting regions,” state the resource professionals in a letter to the president. The signatories praise the EPA for conducting a scientific assessment of the region’s watershed as a first step in protecting Bristol Bay from the mine’s dangers but stress that additional action is needed to prevent the development of Pebble and other large-scale mining projects in Bristol Bay.
The potential impact of Pebble Mine could be severe and permanent. The mine could produce up to 10 billion tons of toxic waste that would threaten spawning and rearing grounds for world-renowned native populations of salmon and rainbow trout. These toxins would have to be contained and potentially treated in perpetuity in an area of high seismic activity. An earthquake could rupture Pebble’s holding dam and heavily impact the entire ecosystem.
Sport fishing in Bristol Bay generates $60 million annually and supports more than 800 jobs, and approximately 65,000 visitors travel to the region every year to fish, hunt and view wildlife. Mining and increased development associated with it would negatively affect fish and habitat and diminish opportunities for sport fishing and hunting operations.
“We urge the president to take action to conserve the unique fish and wildlife values and human health of Bristol Bay by using his authority to restrict large-scale mining activities from degrading the watershed,” said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP president and CEO. “Doing so will generate sustainable economic opportunities while also conserving our outdoor traditions for generations to come.”