New Assessment Suggests Pebble Mine Would Endanger the World’s Largest Salmon Fishery

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 22, 2012
Contact:   Kati Schmidt, Senior Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association. Office: 415.728.0840; Cell: 415.847.1768
Jim Stratton, Senior Regional Director for Alaska, National Parks Conservation Association. Cell: 907.229.9761


New Assessment Suggests Pebble Mine Would Endanger the World’s Largest Salmon Fishery

National Parks Group Calls for Greater Examination of Threats to Alaska’s National Parks

Anchorage, AK -- Examining threats to the world’s largest salmon fishery and related impacts to some of North America’s most pristine national parks, the National Parks Conservation Association says the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft watershed assessment of Alaska’s Bristol Bay and the potential impact of large scale mining claims is a positive first step, but requires greater assessment of the large scale threats posed to Lake Clark and Katmai National Parks and Preserves. With one of the world’s largest open mine pit proposals located adjacent to Lake Clark and Katmai national parks and the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, the report carries paramount importance for the sustained health of our country’s most special places and natural resources.

According to the EPA, the watershed assessment examines potential impacts such as loss of habitat for salmon spawning and rearing. The EPA states that public comments and an independent peer review of the report, slated for later this year, will help inform future decisions on any large-scale mining in Bristol Bay by both federal and non-federal decision-makers.

“The National Parks Conservation Association strongly supports Alaska’s Native tribal governments who are fighting to defend the wild salmon and clean waters, that are vital to their families’ traditional ways-of-life,” said Jim Stratton, Alaska Regional Director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “As such, we are also closely examining the draft assessment and will be calling on the panel of peer review scientists and other decision makers to factor in the proposed mine’s impact to Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.”

“Decisions of this magnitude must be based on sound science and we appreciate the U.S. EPA doing its job by assessing what the risks are to the areas around the special places protected by our national park system in Alaska,” said Stratton.

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, located less than 15 miles from the proposed Pebble Mine site, was one of 13 National Park System sites created or expanded by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Section 201 of ANILCA’s enabling legislation to create Lake Clark National Park and Preserve states the site will “protect the watershed necessary for the perpetuation of the red salmon fishery in Bristol Bay”.

NPCA’s Center for Park Research conducted a study of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in 2009, which determined that if built, the proposed Pebble Mine could become the largest mining project in Alaska, the largest open-pit mine in North America, and a catalyst of industrialization in the headwaters of one of the last remaining wild sockeye salmon fisheries on Earth. Predicted mining impacts to Lake Clark include degraded air and water quality; habitat disturbance and displacement of wildlife and birds; and increased competition for subsistence and/or sport resources from new residents and mine workers.

The National Parks Conservation Association supports the EPA’s efforts to quantify the extraordinary natural and cultural resources values associated with what is often considered the world’s largest, most diverse, and sustainably managed wild sockeye salmon fishery. Despite the hard rock mining industry’s technological advances, the massive scale of the district’s most sought after deposit, Pebble Mine, and its dreadful location in fragile headwaters adjacent to Lake Clark National Park and Preserve are serious concerns. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve’s pristine waters spawn between 1.5 – 6 million salmon each summer from the Kvichak River system.

Additional information on the proposed mine and its impact to Alaska’s national parks and wildlife can be found at www.npca.org/gofishgo.  

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