In response to EPA’s final watershed assessment release, 1,000+ sporting groups and businesses call on agency to follow the science and protect Bristol Bay’s fish and wildlife resources
Yesterday’s release by the Environmental Protection Agency of the final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment brought praise from a vast coalition of 1,048 sporting groups and businesses opposed to mining operations in the southwest Alaska region. The groups sent a letter to the EPA today calling on the agency to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to finally protect this international fishing and hunting mecca and ensure it isn’t turned into a waste storage site for proposed massive mining operations.
Scott Hed, director of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska, emphasized the broad support for the conservation of the Bristol Bay region, stating, “Sportsmen and women from across the country have joined forces and worked for years to defend one of the planet’s finest sporting destinations. The EPA’s watershed assessment identifies the threats posed by massive mining proposals in the region, and hunters and anglers believe it is better to address these very serious concerns up front rather than wait until it may be too late.”
One of the largest and most diverse mobilizations of the sporting community in history, coalition members include a range of sporting conservation groups and trade associations including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Dallas Safari Club, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, Trout Unlimited, Pope & Young Club, Federation of Fly Fishers, Conservation Force, American Sportfishing Association, and more. Many of the most recognizable brands in hunting and fishing products have expressed their wishes to protect Bristol Bay as well, including Sturm, Ruger & Co., Buck Knives, Filson, Orvis, Sage, Simms, Patagonia, and more than 150 others.
“Bristol Bay provides unmatched opportunities to fish and hunt because of its unique fisheries and wildlife habitat, and the related jobs and economy are sustainable and irreplaceable,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Development decisions that would impact them must be supported by the best available science. Now, the scientific community has weighed in on Bristol Bay and the impacts of a mine such as the proposed Pebble Mine via the watershed assessment, and its findings are clear: the EPA must protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining operations and conserve these world-class natural resources.”
Dallas Safari Club Executive Director Ben Carter added, “The Dallas Safari Club has long supported wildlife and habitat conservation and hunting and fishing access in southwest Alaska. Mining plans put at risk the very habitat and opportunities we have fought to conserve. Without habitat there is no fish and game…it is that simple. We oppose any development in the Bristol Bay region that would jeopardize this critical ecosystem and urge the EPA to move from studying Bristol Bay to protecting it.”
“Like many of our partners in this effort, AFFTA and many of our member companies have been engaged for many years,” said Ben Bulis, president of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. “While we appreciate the opportunity to have participated in the watershed assessment process, we believe that the time for action is now. The science is in, and we strongly encourage EPA to act on this opportunity to protect one of the planet’s most productive fisheries as well as all of the jobs and businesses in Alaska and far beyond that depend on it.”
“This issue unites the complete spectrum of the sporting community,” Hed concluded. “When catch and release anglers and makers of fly rods and reels work in concert with big game hunters and firearm manufacturers, that’s a powerful set of interests – all in agreement that large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed is simply the wrong idea in the wrong place. The Obama administration has the rare opportunity to protect jobs, preserve vital hunting and fishing habitats, and secure its conservation legacy by permanently protecting Bristol Bay under the Clean Water Act. The science is clear; the time to act is now.”
Logo courtesy EPA