Trout Unlimited Alaska, along with nearly 300 hunting and fishing groups, welcomed a request by the current and former chairmen of the House Interior Appropriations Committee that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) protect federal lands near Bristol Bay from hard rock mining.
In April, Chairman Jim Moran (D-VA) and former committee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) urged the BLM to protect 1.1 million acres in and around the Bristol Bay watershed, home to the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery.
"We fully support keeping this high-value habitat, which is critical to Bristol Bay's rich fisheries, off-limits to mining, and we applaud Mr. Moran and Mr. Dicks for taking a stand and urging the BLM to do the right thing," said Tim Bristol, director of Trout Unlimited's Alaska Program.
During the final days of the former administration, the BLM developed a management plan for federal lands in Bristol Bay. The plan recommended opening for mining some 1.1 million acres, which is crisscrossed by miles of pristine rivers and tributaries and provides prime spawning and rearing habitat for Bristol Bay's famous salmon runs.
For three decades this land was closed to mineral development. But in 2008, despite widespread public concern about the potential harm to the area's abundant salmon, trout, bear, caribou and moose populations, BLM opened the area up to hard rock mining.
Last August, nearly 300 sporting groups and businesses urged BLM Director Bob Abbey to keep the mining prohibitions in place.
"From catch and release anglers to big game hunters, from fly rod makers to firearms manufacturers, the hunting and angling community has deemed the Bristol Bay region a place worth fighting for. Seeing this sentiment shared by members of Congress is very encouraging – and a sign that our message is being heard," said Scott Hed, director of the Sportsman's Alliance for Alaska.
To tell the BLM to protect Bristol Bay's wild salmon runs, please visit our Take Action page.