Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Protect land use of those not directly affected by the mine

I am a fisherman of Bristol Bay. I was raised on bay every summer since 1970. My family has benefited from salmon both commercially and by subsistence use for years.

After the fishing season was over, my family has fished and camped up the Wood-Tikchik lake system and have always enjoyed hunting and putting up fish.

I am amazed by those in other river and lake systems that would choose to not oppose even the possibility of that lifestyle be damaged in any way. Furthermore that there are others that openly support the Pebble Mine knowing that there is a chance that their subsistence way of life could end.

I propose that legislation and regulations be drafted now to designate the protection of land use of those that won’t be directly affected by any damage the mine could impose if there were a spill.

If those that choose not to oppose or openly support the mine want to risk their renewable resource for a non-renewable one, then I want safeguards in place to make sure my rights are protected.

Worse case scenario is that the mine spills toxic waste into the river system an ALL the salmon in the Nushagak River system and the Iliamna Lake system die. That would affect fishing both commercially and subsistence to the point where fish are no longer available for use.

That would impact all the people in those villages in their ability to put salmon and trout in their freezers. It would also impact about 1000 commercial fishing permit holders. Both groups will want fish.

Northern Dynasty has promised a no-net-loss promise as far as salmon goes. Where will those fish come from?

Those that choose to gamble with access to the resource for subsistence use will have to look somewhere for salmon. I want to ensure that the Wood-Tikchik Lakes are protected from the increased need for salmon from over fishing for subsistence use.

Driftnetters from the affected bays that are trying to make a living will need to fish some place. If the only returns are from the Wood River, then the 400 – 600 boats that fish the Nushagak Bay could blow up to 1800 boats.

Let’s think ahead and ensure that those that choose to gamble with their resource aren’t able to destroy resources from another area by over fishing.

Togiak District has successfully devised a management plan to ensure that their salmon returns are protected. I don’t believe it is too soon to at least draft a management plan to protect use rights. It is responsible and will protect sustainability of salmon use both subsistence and commercially.

That being said, the mine is not built. The permits are not submitted and approved. There is time to oppose the mine and choose a renewable resource over a non-renewable one.

No longer indifferent

I just couldn’t remain neutral anymore. I knew I had to take a stand. I kept hearing that it is premature and unfair to state a position on pebble right now. They haven’t even applied for permits.

I had to do something. I took two hours of my time to review press clippings, go to the Pebble Project web site, go to the Department of Natural Resources web site. I reviewed the draft plans for the dam, the tailings pond, the location of the mine, the jobs that were to be created.
What I found after educating myself, after taking my personal time to research the proposed mine, I could no longer remain indifferent.

It is blatantly unfair to not take a stand

Northern Dynasty and others are telling you it is too soon to form an opinion on the proposed Pebble Mine project. Northern Dynasty officials bristle when people speak out against the mine stating that it is it too soon to form an opinion and blatantly unfair.

There are important issues that are being decided right now that will have long-term effects on Bristol Bay. The fish refuge proposal at the headwaters of Bristol Bay is still a current issue and your opinions are relevant and need to be voiced.

Silence now serves no benefit except to officials at Northern Dynasty. There are recent events that make my point.

The 2005 Bristol Bay Management Plan was recently published. There are people now who wish that the plan spoke out more strongly against the Pebble Mine project and are currently stating their opposition to the mine.

Northern Dynasty officials state that the plan went through two year review process. That opposition now is a little late. That opposing voices are wrong in stating their opinion. That the opposing groups are not following due process and that their comments are blatantly unfair.
There are many opportunities in a project this size to comment, to state your beliefs. The permitting of the mine will not start until at least 2008 Northern Dynasty officials’ state.
Within those two years your comments will fair, valid, and relevant.

How frustrating would it be to come to the end of those two years and you finally raise your voice. Northern Dynasty officials could again bristle, claiming that they gave you opportunity for comment, which time has passed. These people’s opinions are premature; they should follow due process, and their opposition at this time is blatantly unfair.

Height of the proposed dam at the Pebble Mine

Many of us can visualize the ad on television that shows the dam proposed by the Pebble Mine project that states it will be taller than the Space Needle in Seattle. I have been up the Space Needle a few times with my family, but even now it is hard for me to visualize how tall that really is.

The tallest building in the state of Alaska is the Conoco-Phillips Building which is 296 feet tall in downtown Anchorage. There are actually three dams proposed for the mine, the tallest being 740 feet tall. That is nearly two and one-half times the height of the tallest building in Alaska.
Next time you’re in downtown Anchorage, stand next to the Conoco-Phillips building, think of a structure two and one-half times as tall. That will give you some perspective as to the size of the proposed dam for the mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Stop Pebble Mine

We are a group of concerned citizens concerend about the proposed pebble mine being built at the headwaters of Bristol Bay.