I've been fly fishing for almost 60 years. In fact, I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't fish. I suppose that was natural. I grew up on one of America's great trout rivers - the Green, in Wyoming. I've been involved as a professional in conservation for almost 40 years. And I have never, in all that time, seen anything that could compare with the threat posed by the proposed Pebble MIne.
What does a proposed gold mine in Alaska have to do with you and where you fish? Everything. The assessment released by EPA yesterday said that this proposed mine would:
· Cause the direct loss of up to 90 miles of salmon-spawning streams;
· Increase acidity and metals concentrations in area waters, which could degrade important salmon habitat;
· Directly impact salmon and trout in up to 35 miles of river and stream beyond the mine footprint and 51 miles within the mine footprint as a result of copper leaching during standard operation; and
· Generate millions of tons of waste produced by mining the Pebble deposit that would require treatment and storage in perpetuity.
But what about those of us who will never fish there? What if you never get to fish the Mulchatna or the Kvichak? I never have. Maybe I never will. But I'll be sending an email today urging President Obama to stop this mine before it starts. Why? I'll tell you. In fact, I'll show you.
Check out the photo. That's my grandson. We call him Bubba. He's six, and he loves to fish. He's growing up in a much different world than I did fifty years ago, even different than his mother did thirty years ago. He deserves a wild place to fish. A place without Twitter, a place without highway noise, a place where the hand of man is absent from the land. Even if he never sees it, or ever fishes there, he deserves to know that it exists. He deserves Bristol Bay.
I'm not against mining. I'm just against this mine, in this place. And I'm not against it for me, I'm against it for him.