Advocacy Featured

United by Hope: Bristol Bay dialogues

Healthy salmon runs define Bristol Bay

A month from winter solstice, Dillingham, Alaska – where the Nushagak River dumps into Bristol Bay – was dark, quiet, and chilly last November. Snow and wind blew across the surrounding tundra not far from her windows when texts started flooding into Alannah Hurley’s phone. The news: A major permit for the proposed Pebble mine would be denied by the Trump Administration.

Alannah started to cry. She later described how she felt.

“Joy. Sheer joy and relief.”

Simmering for years, the Pebble mine controversy vaulted into the broader public eye in 2008 with the release of the Felt Soul Media Film, “Red Gold,” then reached a crescendo in 2010 when local Tribes petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to safeguard the region from the impacts of large-scale mining.

Millions of recreational and commercial anglers, hunters, conservationists, and scientists were quick to back up the Tribes and remain engaged to this day, two decades after the first rumors of Pebble mine began to circulate.

In 2020, we saw perhaps the most unlikely and hard-won outcome with the denial of the mine’s federal permit.

But celebrations have quickly turned back to determination.

Everyone who cares about Bristol Bay knows the next step is to secure permanent protections for the region amid a Pebble-friendly state government. TU and our partners are at work on lasting safeguards for trout and salmon and the fish-based resources of Bristol Bay.

By working with the EPA and allies in Congress, we can achieve long-term security for Alaskans and their homes, jobs, and culture.

Earlier this year, I sat down with a handful of people who have worked together on the Pebble front lines for nearly two decades.

Through devastating setbacks, monumental victories, and long red-eye flights to Washington, D.C., they’ve attended more hearings and rallies than they can count. They’ve grown together, showing the world how to be advocates. Through the years they’ve become central players in each other’s lives.

Listen in as they reflect on the victory, share stories on the paths they took to arrive here, and prepare for the road ahead. And please visit to add your support for long-term protections.


Sarah O’Neal, Freshwater ecologist, University of Washington. Olympia, Washington


Joe Chythlook, Chairman, Bristol Bay Native Corporation. Aleknagik, Alaska


Triston Chaney, Student, Fishing Guide, Commercial Fisherman. Dillingham, Alaska


Nanci Morris Lyon, Owner, Bear Trail Lodge. King Salmon, Alaska. With daughter, Rylie Lyon, Student and fishing guide. Missoula, Montana and King Salmon, Alaska


Brian Kraft, Owner, Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge, with daughter, Dakota Kraft. Igiugig and Anchorage, Alaska


Alannah Hurley, Executive Director, United Tribes of Bristol Bay. Dillingham, Alaska.