Kristyn Brady

November 8, 2019

Fishermen Schooled Congress on These Three Possible Impacts of Pebble Mine

Sportsmen took the real concerns of the outdoor recreation economy to D.C. lawmakers

In a recent hearing of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, expert witnesses testified in opposition to the Pebble Mine project proposed for the headwaters of Bristol Bay in Alaska. Seated beside the CEO of the mining company that would benefit from the construction of Pebble, an environmental scientist, local sporting outfitter, and commercial fisherman highlighted the very real concerns of Alaskans and outdoor businesses.

Reminder: The now-infamous plan to carve out an open pit at the headwaters of Bristol Bay’s two largest rivers would threaten clean water in one of the finest fishing destinations on Earth and degrade fish habitat in a region that produces about half the world’s sockeye salmon. If Pebble were constructed, billions of tons of mine waste could remain in the area forever.

But that’s not all. Here are three lessons lawmakers learned from anglers and experts who know the real stakes.

Spawning sockeye salmon. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
We’re Talking About 100% Consumption of the Habitat

Brian Kraft, owner of two remote sportfishing lodges in Alaska and an advocate for Bristol Bay’s salmon for the past 15 years, hosts fishing clients from every state in the nation and not one has failed to remark on how unique the landscape and fishery are. He says he and his wife understand the concerns of businesses in their community as part of the $65-million sportfishing industry in Alaska.

In his testimony, Kraft pointed out that the simple question of “Is this the right place to mine?” can only be answered when you assume that the mine will consume 100 percent of the habitat it touches. In this particular case, you can’t directionally drill and you can’t shift the ore deposit, so the smaller of the two mine proposals would still consume 80 miles of streams and 3,500 acres of wetlands in an area that was legislatively preserved for its fisheries in 1972.

Photo by Chris Ford via flickr.
The Army Corps Has Yet to Address the Concerns of Salmon Fishermen

Three generations of Mark Niver’s family have worked as commercial fishermen in Alaska, and as an expert witness, he pointed out that fishermen are just one link in a chain—Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery employs 14,000 people every summer and generates $1.5 billion in worldwide economic activity. But he adds that this wouldn’t be possible without the area’s pristine, undeveloped freshwater habitat and science-based fisheries management. “For over a decade, the proposed Pebble Mine has cast a shadow of uncertainty over my livelihood and my family’s future,” he said. “Nowhere in the world has a mine of this type and size been located in a place as ecologically sensitive as Bristol Bay.”

After weighing in thoughtfully at multiple stages of the lengthy public process to consider the mine, commercial fishermen have not had their concerns adequately addressed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Niver told lawmakers that he fears the permitting process is a runaway train toward approval, despite the science indicating that salmon and Pebble Mine cannot coexist.

Photo by Jonny Armstrong.
Unless the Proposed Footprint is Expanded, the Mine Will Lose Money

In his testimony, geologist and environmental scientist Richard Borden agreed that energy development is necessary in our society, but not all ore deposits can or should be mined. He believes Bristol Bay is the most “sensitive, globally significant, and challenging environmental setting” of any project he’s ever reviewed in more than 30 years of consulting for the mining industry, and the environmental impact statement completed by the Army Corps of Engineers in haste six months ago is deeply flawed. But, perhaps most surprisingly, he points out that the mining company is basing their timeline and promises about impact avoidance on examples of much smaller mines. To construct a mine on a scale that—they say—would minimize environmental risks, investors would certainly lose money, and pressures to expand the mine’s footprint would likely follow.

Now You Have Three Reasons to Get Involved

This testimony gives anglers three more reasons to speak out against Pebble Mine and safeguard habitat and our fishing opportunities in Bristol Bay. Sportsmen and women sent thousands of messages to the Army Corps during the last public comment period, but our lawmakers need to hear from YOU to influence Bristol Bay’s future. Reach out to your senators NOW using our simple action tool.

 

Watch the subcommittee hearing on the Pebble Mine project here.

Top photo by Wild Salmon Center.

8 Responses to “Fishermen Schooled Congress on These Three Possible Impacts of Pebble Mine”

  1. I grew up in Spokane, Wa….ask any “Inland Northwesterner”, ( we all grew up around mines and water) they will tell you that 100% of the mines near water sources, have contaminated that source w heavy metals, leachates, and mining byproducts of devastating types…..The fish of our rivers are health risks, usually recommended to not eat or eat only one time monthly…….Bristol Bay is a certaintude if mined, the only question is when the disaster will occur…..

  2. Harold Johnson

    I really feel as though you don’t tell the whole story. You only see the negative possibilities. If the min is so bad, why is it approved? Are just looking at one side of an argument and really don’t understand what they are going to do? I read another story about a watershed in Alaska where they stated mercury mining done in the past has affected the levels of mercury in the fish. Yet natural mercury is in the fish in waters above the mining site and at the same levels. I sometimes wonder if this is just another nonprofit for profit scheme to make money for your organization. I guess I would rely more on experts that are not hand picked by environmentalists.

  3. Tom Cheshier

    What is the fishery worth? This mine proposal is a bad idea all the way around. I have seen firsthand the effects of mining on the water quality. Once mined it destroys the environment and it doesn’t come back. Why would we do this?

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November 4, 2019

Podcast: Whit Fosburgh Discusses Conservation on Bass Pro’s Outdoor World

TRCP’s president and CEO Whit Fosburgh appeared on Sirius XM’s Rural Radio channel 147 this weekend to talk about conservation with Bass Pro’s podcast with host Rob Keck. The Outdoor World show airs every Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m. across the nation.

Carl Erquiaga

October 30, 2019

Putting Boots on the Ground for Bighorn Sheep

A volunteer effort in Nevada highlights the commitment of wildlife managers and conservationists

Of all the big game species in North America, bighorn sheep hold a special place in the hearts—and dreams—of many hunters. But these animals have been struggling for generations due to a number of factors, such as habitat loss and disease.

Wild sheep conservation sometimes depends on reintroducing these animals to their historic ranges and ensuring that they are healthy once they arrive. In Nevada, there has been tremendous success by the Nevada Department of Wildlife and groups such as Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, Elko Bighorns Unlimited, Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, and the Wild Sheep Foundation. As a result, our state’s sheep have become a valuable resource for repopulating other areas of the West, growing new herds and pushing back against the many challenges faced by bighorns.

Last week I helped out on a desert bighorn sheep capture project in the Stillwater Mountains (Unit 044/182) of western Nevada. The animals we captured were transported to Utah for release into the Mineral Mountains near Beaver, in the west-central part of the state.

Folks onsite included a lot of staff from the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, plus several volunteers, including two state wildlife commissioners.


The goal was to have 50 sheep to reestablish bighorns in the Mineral Mountains. The first day was a little slow, only resulting in 15 sheep in the trailer, but when the work was over, 51 sheep had been transported. Even 25 or 30 sheep is enough to get a new herd off the ground.

As you can see, it’s a very intensive process once the sheep are brought in. Wildlife biologists take a myriad of samples and administer injections. The animals’ temperatures are monitored constantly; if they rise too high, water, ice baths, and sometimes IVs are used to lower body temps and alleviate the related stresses.

Before being loaded for transport, each sheep was fitted with a GPS collar that can be monitored remotely. These collars allow researchers and wildlife managers to monitor the health of the transplants and how they utilize their new habitat.

This project was delayed a day, because the capture crew was busy in Arizona capturing pronghorns and other bighorns for migration studies. The helicopter contractor, Quick Silver Air, out of Alaska, is one of the best in the business. I have been on numerous captures with them, and they are true professionals. It’s an extremely dangerous profession, and I shake my head in wonder every time I see it happen.

Most of the photo credits go to my hunting buddy, Patti Lingenfelter, who did a great job of documenting the efforts of all involved. In addition to being a lot of fun, these projects are always a learning experience for me, as well as a testament to the dedication of our wildlife professionals and conservationists of different backgrounds.

Kristyn Brady

October 25, 2019

14 Reasons to Celebrate Theodore Roosevelt on His Birthday

We’re not the only ones who look to America’s conservation president for inspiration

While conservation and partnership are key to our mission, perhaps the most important part of the TRCP’s moniker is our namesake, the patron saint of conservation, public lands policy, and progress for fish and wildlife populations: Theodore Roosevelt. Most would agree that this bespectacled badass set us all up to succeed in safeguarding what makes the wildest parts of our country special. And he was well known for touting the value of spending time outdoors to heal, find solitude, and test one’s strength.

May we always follow his example.

On Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday, October 27, we will wrap up a week-long celebration of his conservation legacy. Thanks for following along and for your support of the TRCP throughout the year. Today, we end the week with thoughts from our staff, partners, members, and industry friends on what T.R. means to them. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Randy Newberg.

“My lesson taken from Roosevelt’s legacy is that conservation is always difficult, is always uncomfortable, and always inconvenient. Such was the case 115 years ago, and such is the case today; as it will always be.” — Randy Newberg, hunter and public lands advocate

“Theodore Roosevelt felt that all Americans should have the chance to prove themselves in the wild and enjoy the incredible natural resources that our forests, rivers, mountains, and prairies provide. His vision inspired the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and his forward-thinking actions have made all of us richer in our ability to access public lands for recreation. We strive to honor his legacy by continuing to build upon his vision.” Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

“Learning about T.R. in high school changed the course of my life. He inspired me to trust myself. Over the years, I have leaned on his words for strength—his ‘man in the arena’ speech taught me that failure was part of taking chances, but that it doesn’t define you.” — Christopher Hall, Talkeetna, Alaska

“These days, it’s easy to take for granted the things that Theodore Roosevelt fought so hard to establish, including opportunities to hunt and fish on public lands. Roosevelt’s birthday gives us an opportunity to reflect on the incredible vision for conservation and public lands that he instilled into the national conscience through sheer will and a determination to fight for future generations.” — Jared Mott, conservation director for the Izaak Walton League of America

Photo courtesy of YETI.

“Teddy Roosevelt inspired me to grow a mustache. However, I know it’ll never be as thick as T.R.’s, a man who protected 230 million acres of land for public use. I won’t stop trying, nor will I stop roaming and exploring the land he set aside for me. Thank you, Teddy!” — Sloane Brown, hunting expert at YETI

“I don’t think it’s widely known that Teddy Roosevelt grew up sickly in urban New York City. This may have been what drew him to the wonders of nature and to experience the healing powers of time spent outside. No matter what the activity—hiking, hunting, or fishing—Teddy treasured the beauty of the outdoors and dedicated himself to preserving these places for future generations. Let’s continue this legacy of protecting our public lands and waters and connecting people with the incredible economic, social, and health benefits of outdoor recreation.” — Jessica Wahl, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

“When I teach my students about the Progressive Era, I go above and beyond to stress the significant impact that T.R. made on this country, and particularly how he fought to change public perception of how our wildlife and other natural resources should be utilized. He not only championed our natural resources, but he significantly altered the president’s role in serving as the steward of our public resources. I hope that my teaching will help to pass on his legacy to future generations.” — Matthew Ryan, high school history teacher in Ohio

“For a man with all the means in the world at his disposal, T.R. took it upon himself to provide for all, not just the wealthy and privileged. He had ample opportunity to throw in the towel on his career with each milestone and accolade, but he kept going and fought with equal tenacity for causes both popular and unpopular, like the notions of public land and national forests open to all.” — Ryan Callaghan, conservation director for MeatEater

“The legacy of Theodore Roosevelt looms large in the mind of the avid angler as the result of our 26th president’s commitment to the conservation of public lands. His bold ideas and relentless pursuit to maintain the nation’s natural resources has created boundless opportunities for anglers to pursue one of America’s favorite pastimes. As we celebrate his 161st birthday, I am reminded of his efforts—as he would put it—’to work hard at work worth doing.’ All of us at ASA have worked hard and will continue to lead by his example to make sure public lands and waters remain open to foster the next generation of anglers.” — Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association

“Among the scores of conservation giants who have influenced our nation’s conservation history and ethic, critically few politicians make the list. POTUS Roosevelt truly stands out as one of America’s most stalwart and effective politicians advocating a pro-hunting and conservation-based idealism.” — Dan Forster, vice president and chief conservation officer of the Archery Trade Association

Photo by @othercindylou on Instagram.

“Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy reminds me that when the world is too much, when I am hurting and need a reprieve, I can find the solace I need in the wilderness. He lost his wife and mother the very same day. That would break most people, and yet he retreated to the only place that could make him whole again, the open lands of the West, and came out of it a few years later a stronger, more determined man than ever. I never suffered a loss like his, but I suffered greatly for many years, and the countless hours spent in the woods, finally gaining some footing and developing as a hunter, have had the same end result for me. I am stronger, I am determined, and I will forge on.” — Cindy Stites, hunter and dedicated conservation volunteer in Indiana

“Every morning when I wake up, I try to ask myself, ‘What would Theodore Roosevelt do?’ If we all do that every day, our hunting and fishing opportunities and public lands legacy will be secure for future generations to ask that exact same question.” — Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

“I am blessed to work along the Carolina coast managing the Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area. We have nearly 300 acres of old-growth maritime forest and estuarine habitat preserved in an area that has seen a tremendous amount of development over the past 50 years. Roosevelt’s dedication to conservation and land management is inspiring to so many of us, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of all who walk our trails and explore our shore.” — Wayne Justice, Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina

“Theodore Roosevelt was an avid sportsman and hunter, and his devotion to conserving our natural and cultural history established a precedent for our nation. It is because of trailblazers like Teddy Roosevelt that we continue to have the privilege of investing in conservation to benefit both wildlife and people. He believed in cherishing our natural resources, not wasting them, and is remembered as a true pioneer of conservation.” — Adam Putnam, CEO of Ducks Unlimited                                                      

“I credit TR and his example with my decision to leave the real estate business and pursue land conservation in the West full time. I also credit T.R.’s ability to work harder than anyone, have plenty of irons in the fire, and embrace the strenuous life with inspiring me to start my own podcast, which highlights innovators of the American West, like ranchers, writers, conservationists, athletes, adventurers, and artists. It’s no exaggeration that, other than my family, TR has been the biggest influence on my life and career.” — Ed Roberson, Colorado Springs, Colo.

“President Roosevelt preached the virtues of hard work and commitment, knowing a passion for outdoor pursuits would sustain the nation into the future. 161 years later, fly fishermen are still supporting conservation every day, ensuring we have healthy water, habitat, and fisheries.” — Patrick Berry, president and CEO of Fly Fishers International

 

How does Theodore Roosevelt inspire you? Tell us in the comments.

Top photo courtesy of Harvard College Library. HOLLIS Image: Roosevelt Class No. 520.3, 560.3

October 23, 2019

Senate Reintroduces Bill that Would Balance Renewable Energy with the Needs of Fish and Wildlife

This win-win legislation would provide funds to conservation projects, states, and counties

The Senate has reintroduced a bipartisan bill that would ensure smart-from-the-start development of renewable energy resources. The Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act would help build an efficient framework for development on public lands and direct royalty funds to fish and wildlife conservation projects in the communities hosting wind and solar development.

A House version of the bill was introduced in July 2019.

Royalties funneled into a newly established conservation fund could be used to restore fish and wildlife habitat affected by development and maintain access to hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands.

Representatives from three major sportsmen’s groups applauded this effort, noting that hunters and anglers are supportive of the development of renewable energy resources on public lands when it is done in the right places and in a manner that conserves fish and wildlife habitat.

“This bill would achieve a rare win-win scenario by thoughtfully balancing renewable energy development and habitat needs, while creating a consistent stream of revenue to fund essential fish and wildlife management projects,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We’re grateful for the support of Senate lawmakers who are prioritizing opportunities to enhance sportsmen’s access, clean water resources, and critical habitat for important game species through this common-sense approach.”

“Our energy future is reliant on the development of renewable energy–that’s not a political statement, it’s simple economics,” says Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Solar and wind are now more cost-effective than ever before. But even renewable energy has an impact on public land and we must balance renewable development with the protection of fish and wildlife resources. This bill ensures smart development from the start, funding important conservation measures and giving back to the communities who shoulder these projects. TU has supported the concepts contained in this bill for nearly a decade, and we’re grateful to the House and the Senate continuing to pursue its passage.”

“Sportsmen and women are practical about the increasing demands of renewable energy development on our public lands, and we want to avoid impacts to wildlife habitat,” says John Gale, conservation director for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “PLREDA prioritizes development away from wildlife conflicts, proactively mitigates impacts from energy development and creates a royalty structure that will drive new revenue for impacted states and communities while also dedicating a separate conservation funding stream. We thank Sens. McSally and Heinrich for introducing this bipartisan legislation that promotes responsible energy development and safeguards critical fish and wildlife habitat for future generations.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

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