Trout Unlimited, Together With Hundreds of Fishing and Hunting Groups, Applauds Call for Federal Protection of Bristol Bay Watershed



Tim Bristol Alaska Program Director, Trout Unlimited, 907-321-3291 or
Paula Dobbyn — Alaska Director of Communications, Trout Unlimited, 907-230-1513 or

Trout Unlimited, Together With Hundreds of Fishing and Hunting Groups, Applauds Call for Federal Protection of Bristol Bay Watershed

(April 22, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska) Trout Unlimited and the Sportsmans Alliance for Alaska, along with nearly 300 hunting and fishing groups, today welcomed news that the current and former chairmen of the House Interior Appropriations Committee have urged the Bureau of Land Management to protect federal lands near Bristol Bay, Alaska, from hard rock mining.

Chairman Jim Moran (D-VA) and former committee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) have asked the Bureau of Land Management protect 1.1 million acres near Bristol Bay, home to the worlds largest sockeye salmon fishery.

We fully support keeping this high-value habitat thats critical to Bristol Bays 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 Unlimiteds Alaska Program.

During the final days of the former administration, BLM developed a management plan for federal lands in Bristol Bay. The plan recommended opening for mining some 1.1 million acres that is crisscrossed by miles of pristine rivers and tributaries and that provides prime spawning and rearing habitat for Bristol Bays famous salmon runs.

For three decades this land was closed to mineral development. But in 2008, BLM opened it up to hard rock mining and oil and gas exploration despite widespread public concern about the potential harm to the areas abundant salmon, trout, bear, caribou and moose populations.

The management plan is especially problematic because the 1.1 million acres lie adjacent to the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine. This colossal mine is but one of several potential mining developments on nearby lands. If Pebble and other mines are allowed to proceed, these projects risk exposing Bristol Bays commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries to toxic mine discharges. The combination of Pebble, plus potential mineral leasing on BLM land nearby, would pose a grave risk to Bristol Bays sensitive freshwater habitat that supports fisheries that are valued at more than $400 million annually

Last August, nearly 300 sporting groups and businesses, including the Sportsmans Alliance for Alaska (SAA,) had urged BLM Director Bob Abbey to keep the mining prohibitions in place. SAAs director, Scott Hed, said today that he is heartened by Moran and Dicks action.

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 Hed.