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Latest news on the fight for Bristol Bay

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The support that the industry continues to show for the Bristol Bay campaign is encouraging and inspiring. A brief update follows on happenings with the campaign, then a wrap up with a few opportunities for continued engagement and notes on outreach plans for 2010.

Campaign Update
• In late August, Bob Abbey was confirmed as the Director of the Bureau of Land Management.  The week following his confirmation, we delivered a letter to Director Abbey asking him to not enact the BLM’s plan (proposed by the previous Administration) for 1 million acres of federal lands in the Bristol Bay region.  That seriously flawed plan would lift the restrictions for mineral exploration and development on 99% of the BLM-managed lands in Bristol Bay, which lie downstream of the proposed Pebble project – primarily lying on both sides of the full length of the Kvichak River, the Alagnak River, and the Nushagak River both above and below the confluence with the Mulchatna River.  The plan proposed by BLM under the past Administration did not recognize the economic value of the Bristol Bay commercial and sport fishery when considering future management of these lands.  To say that was a slight oversight is possibly the understatement of the year.

The letter to BLM Director Abbey was signed by 275 sporting interests, representing 40 US States and several foreign countries.  Sport fishing and hunting product manufacturers, lodge owners, fly shops, and hunting and angling conservation groups large and small signed the letter, asking Director Abbey to re-open the BLM plan for Bristol Bay and produce a plan for these federal lands that protects them for their value as some of the most productive salmon-producing systems in the world.  When catch and release angling groups like TU and FFF are joined by big game trophy hunting groups like Dallas Safari Club, and when pretty much every company in the fly fishing product industry signs along with Sturm Ruger & Co. then we can honestly say we’ve got a diverse set of supporters for Bristol Bay’s public lands!  Thank you to all who signed on the letter.

AFFTA president Gary Berlin participated in a press call to announce the delivery of the letter to BLM Director Abbey which received a good share of media attention.

At this time, we continue to hold meetings with BLM leadership as well as top staff at the Department of Interior with hopes that our recommendations for management of the BLM lands in Bristol Bay will be undertaken by the current BLM and Interior regime.

• Just last week, we held our first ever Bristol Bay wild salmon week in our nation’s capitol.  Roughly a dozen activists in the campaign traveled to Washington DC where we held over 40 meetings in 3 days with staff from agencies such as the BLM, Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, and a number of House and Senate offices.  We had experts in fisheries science, mining and geology, commercial fishers, salmon processors, Native subsistence residents from several villages in Bristol Bay, a former president of the Alaska state senate, a chef from Seattle, and a number of us on staff with the campaign.  Our message seemed to be well-received in most every meeting.  In most instances of Senate and House offices, it was the first time they had been exposed to the Bristol Bay issue.  We are reaching a point in the campaign where concerned parties from around the country will be able to actively participate in the campaign by contacting elected officials and agencies that will be responsible for reviewing permit applications for the Pebble project.

Status of the Pebble Project
• The Pebble Limited Partnership (Northern Dynasty and Anglo-American) continued another season of field work in 2009, wrapping up its work last month.  The word we continue to hear from PLP is that a mine plan will be ready for review and the permit application process will begin sometime around the 3rd quarter of 2010.  That’s when the process of securing 60+ state and federal permits will begin, and that process is estimated to take a minimum of 3 years. 
• Without going into detailed legalese, there are also a pair of lawsuits ongoing at the state level contesting management of the state lands in the Bristol Bay region (Pebble lies on state lands).  While these suits are in the very early stages, they at minimum have the potential to delay the work on Pebble.

Opportunities for Continued Participation in the Bristol Bay Campaign
• FUNDS – While the campaign does receive grants from philanthropic foundations, often those funds are restricted as to their use.  The support that the industry has provided in various ways has proven to be extremely valuable, as these funds are unrestricted.  Continued support, in the following ways, is extremely important:
o Direct donations – really no need to explain further.
o Matching fundraising challenges.  Orvis is doing this right now, but others are always welcome to run something similar.
o Limited edition products.  Examples include the Sage/Redington/Rio combo and the Abel “No Pebble” reel, where a portion of the proceeds is donated to the campaign.
o Product donation for fundraising auctions.  The Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska has leveraged the generosity of your product donations into gross receipts exceeding $55K for each of the past two years for our online auction – thank you!  The auction will run again in February and March 2010, so expect to get an email or call from me regarding a donation for next year.

• Help raise awareness.  Your business has numerous opportunities to spread the word about Bristol Bay and Pebble Mine.  Here are a few ideas:
o Put the “No Pebble Mine” logo in the corner of your advertisements.  We’ve got at least one of these in the works.
o Use the “No Pebble Mine” logo as a link from your web site to www.SportsmansAlliance4AK.org and/or www.SaveBristolBay.org.
o Include content about Bristol Bay in your company catalog (Loon Outdoors did this for their 2010 catalog, and a few others have done it in the past).
o Include Bristol Bay information on your web site.
o Include Bristol Bay information in print or electronic newsletters.
o Insert a Bristol Bay informational “Take Action” postcard and/or “No Pebble Mine” decals in product packaging.  We are working with at least one big company on this idea.

• If you have any other ideas, we are always interested in hearing them!

2010 Campaign Events
• Sport Show Tour – What began a few years back as a handful of appearances on The Fly Fishing Show circuit has grown tremendously.  While we will continue to have a presence at all of The Fly Fishing Show venues, we have added a lot to our tour schedule.  Oftentimes, we have a presence at more than one show during the same weekend – sometimes even 3 different shows on the same weekend.
o In 2010, we are planning to attend and exhibit at nearly 20 shows in January, February, and March.  We are hitting a number of the ISE shows, including the two that partner with AFFTA.  We’re also participating for the first time in 4 of the American Sportfishing Association shows, 2 out east and 2 in California.  We are making an effort to greatly expand awareness of this issue beyond the realm of fly angling, which will be important if we want to win on a national level.

• Special Fundraising Events – Preliminary plans are in the works to hold a handful of dinner and auction events around the country.  Once the locations and dates are finalized, you can be certain we will be telling you all about it – so you can make plans to attend and spread the word to your dealers in these locations.

• Red Gold showings – Simply put, the award-winning documentary Red Gold has proven to be probably the single best outreach tool we’ve got.  The movie tells the story better than any of us can, so there’s every reason to use it as much as possible.  We’ll be arranging showing at Bristol Bay “house parties” as well as larger screenings in locations to be determined.

Again, thank you very much for your past and ongoing support for the Bristol Bay campaign.  If you have questions, concerns, ideas, please don’t ever hesitate to contact me.


Scott Hed
Sportsman's Alliance for Alaska
(605) 336-6738 office


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