GIANT STRIP MINE THREATENS ALASKA’S ICONIC BRISTOL BAY
PICK THE WORST PLACE ON THE PLANET FOR A GIANT STRIP MINE, IN THE HEART OF AMERICA’S WILDEST AND MOST PRODUCTIVE ECOSYSTEM. THAT’S EXACTLY WHERE ONE IS PLANNED.
by Ted Williams
What possibly could unite these diverse and in some cases adversarial players in outrage and action: 700 businesses; 700 hunting and angling groups; 77 commercial fishing groups; 200 chefs and restaurant owners; the National Council of Churches, representing 45 million people; major newspapers; leading jewelry retailers; and ultra-conservative legislators?
It would be a plan to gouge and hack the Bristol Bay watershed of southwest Alaska with the continent’s biggest strip mine.
A vestige of what America used to be survives here. The region is the size of Ohio, with a population of 7,500. It is changeless and timeless, laced by pristine rivers that rush and dawdle through forests never logged and un-scarred tundra that alternately blazes with wildflowers and glistens with snow. There are no access roads. You enter by plane or helicopter, threading between jagged, ice-clad peaks. The vastness and wildness start to sink in after you’ve flown for, say, two hours and seen no hint of human defilement.
Everything about Bristol Bay takes someone’s breath away. For me it’s the beauty, the fishing, and especially the wildlife. For folks like John Shively, CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, it’s the $500 billion worth of copper, gold, and molybdenum in the “Pebble Deposit” under the headwaters of the world’s two most productive salmon rivers—the Kvichak and the Nushagak…
(read more: Audubon Magazine) (photo: Michael Medford/Nat. Geo.)