For generations, it’s been known as “the last frontier.” For anglers, it might be better known as the Salmon Frontier. Alaska is, simply put, the best of what’s left. It’s home to the largest salmon runs left in America and, in some cases, the world. Here, anglers share the rivers and streams with mighty brown bears. Only in Alaska can one cast a fly beneath the canopy of the healthiest temperate rainforest left on the planet. And only here can an angler pursue all five Pacific salmon, as well as rainbow trout, steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic char and Arctic grayling.
It is an angler’s paradise… a place like no other.
Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program collaborates closely with commercial fishermen, anglers, tribes, chefs, and many others who care about trout and salmon. We work to preserve, protect and restore wild salmon and trout populations throughout the country’s largest, wildest and most fish-rich state. Although Alaska has some of the most abundant and healthiest salmon and trout, these fish face a variety of major threats. Through sound science, strong grassroots outreach and advocacy, and hands-on involvement in conservation, Trout Unlimited fights to protect some of the most pristine and prized rivers on the planet, focusing on Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska, and the Tongass National Forest in Southeast. In Bristol Bay, TU is involved in a national campaign to protect this region, home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run, from the massive Pebble mine proposal. In the Tongass, TU is championing an effort to conserve the 77 most high-value salmon and trout watersheds that remain open to development activities that can harm fish. Besides working to protect places like Bristol Bay and the Tongass, TU also works to restore fish habitat that may need some help, and it engages the next generation of coldwater stewards in Alaska's natural heritage.
Bristol Bay is home to one of the most sought after angling experiences on the planet. Tucked away in an isolated corner of southwest Alaska, famed rivers such as the Kvichak, Nushagak and Upper Talarik Creek pulse with the world’s largest run of sockeye salmon and boast monster rainbow trout that haunt the dreams of anglers world-wide. This prime fishing destination faces an epic threat to the region’s fish, jobs and a way of life for thousands of Alaska Natives. A massive gold and copper prospect, known as Pebble, lies in the headwaters of Bristol Bay and developers are investing millions to turn it into one of the world’s largest open-pit mines. If Pebble gets developed, the likelihood of mine pollution affecting Bristol Bay is virtual certainty, and the loss of prime salmon and rainbow trout habitat is unquestionable.
TU is organizing anglers and other to speak up for Bristol Bay. The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining through the Clean Water Act and the agency needs to hear from sportsmen and women that they support agency action in this special region of America. The EPA has responsibility and an unprecedented opportunity to safeguard the clean water, plentiful fish and healthy habitat of this unique region by exercising its Clean Water Act authority under section 404(c) to prevent mine waste disposal in the region’s streams and rivers.
In the Tongass National Forest, Trout Unlimited is working hard to protect what is literally America’s salmon forest – one of the few places in the world where wild salmon still thrive. In collaboration with commercial and recreational anglers, scientists, land managers, GIS experts and others, TU has developed a strategy for protecting in perpetuity the forest’s most high-value salmon and trout watersheds. It’s called the Tongass 77. This legislative proposal grew from peer-reviewed science and state-of-the-art GIS tools that identified the top watersheds for salmon and trout not currently protected from development. These 77 watersheds comprise 1.9 million acres of the Tongass. Based on their outstanding habitat values, the highest and best use of these 77 watersheds should be for the production of salmon and trout. Trout Unlimited, together with a growing coalition of commercial and sport fishermen and other salmon advocates, is urging Congress to enact Tongass 77 legislation to ensure that the Tongass remains America’s salmon forest for current and future generations.
Director, Trout Unlimited, Alaska Program