Why Alaska is everyone's backyard

By David Lisi

No one around you, you’re in a pristine river setting, fishing for wild, native fish. This is THE magical, nearly unattainable goal for most fly fishermen. Rivers with Brown Bears bounding through the water chasing spawning salmon as you pluck your tenth 20″ wild rainbow trout from their feeding lanes or hook your third 40lb Chinook. These are the things that fly fishing legends are made of.

No one has to tell you that these experiences are increasingly rare in the world we live in. Sadly, these experiences are about to be come less and less attainable.

“When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money

— Cree Proverb

Whether you’ve just picked up a fly rod for the first time or have been doing this your whole life, there are certain places on this earth that you and I know are the best of the best, the rarest of the rare. Even if you’ve never stepped foot in Alaska, you can’t deny that there’s a mystique to this place. The mountains, the snow, the hoards of salmon, the bears, the eagles, the wild trout, the experience…. it is almost unmatched around the globe and it deserves to be protected.

There are some in the minority, but with lots of power (a.k.a. money) that are willing to trade a brief period of personal and limited prosperity, for one of the last strong-holds and most treasured natural resources known to humans. A resource that has produced centuries of prosperity. Prosperity that, if left untouched by humans, could last for many centuries to come.

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Mt. Polley Mine Disaster, summer 2014.

Of course, we’re talking about the nightmare that no one thought would come back. Just as it was seemingly put-to-bed, here it is again. The proposed Pebble Mine is getting a boost from the newly minted administration and is showing signs of life. It has already proven to be the wrong mine, in the wrong place, being pursued for the wrong reasons.

Even if you’ve never been to Alaska, THIS is your fishing Mecca. It’s on your bucket list and it’s your backyard too. Alaska is special. The proposed Pebble Mine will offer this state nothing but a massive pool of sludge. Riddled with contaminated water containing Arsenic, Molybdenum, Selenium and other chemicals, heavy metals and cutting agents, this holding pond will fill with years and years of mining waste. This waste will live far, far beyond the lives of the greedy few who want to push this mine. Sadly, this pool of waste will forever be a scar on the planet until the planet ceases to exist. There is nowhere for it to go, there will be no cleaning it up.

So for the life of these chemicals and waste a dam must hold it all back from spilling into one of the world’s most sacred salmon and trout nurseries. It is not a matter of “if” it will spill out and destroy Bristol Bay, it is a matter of when.

I urge you, fellow fly fishing fanatic, to embrace this fight and #resist this awful project until it is defeated once again! Thank you for your support and please visit www.savebristolbay.org to join the fight!

David Lisi is the Owner/Head Guide for Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC where he shares the glory of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula with trout bums and salmon heads from around the world. David is passionate about protecting critical fish habitat and his leadership has helped secure a free-flowing future of the Kenai River. This blog post originally ran on the Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC website.

By Brennan Sang. I’m a father, a husband, a jack-of-all-web-trades, and an avid outdoorsman.