Statement by Melissa Blair, Alaska Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association
“In addition to the Pebble Mine prospect, EPA’s final Bristol Bay Assessment released today identifies 15 other mine prospects in the region. If Pebble is developed, many more mines could follow. With an expanded network of mines, mills, roads, tailings storage facilities, and other infrastructure, EPA says the cumulative effects of a mining district could be ‘widespread and extensive.’ The National Parks Conservation Association is grateful that the EPA is committed to the monumental challenge of ensuring a clean, sustainable future for Bristol Bay’s fishery, families, economy, and the nearby Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Created by Congress in 1980, one of the core mandates of the Park is to protect an essential portion of Bristol Bay’s salmon habitat.”
“Upstream of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and within the Chulitna River watershed, the EPA’s report identifies three large mining prospects, Big Chunk North, Big Chunk South, and Groundhog where exploratory work occurred in 2011-2012. The likelihood of mining these sites would increase significantly if the Pebble mining district is established. EPA’s assessment notes on page 13-22 that the Chulitna River watershed is ‘one of the most important subsistence areas for Nondalton,’ the closest Alaska Native village. The National Parks Conservation Association is concerned by the likelihood of direct or indirect impacts to water quality, habitat, and subsistence resources related to Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.”
“We are relieved to see mining claim holders begin to back off from the prospects, realizing the negative impacts associated with developing around the Pebble deposit. In December, former Northern Dynasty Mineral partner Liberty Star Uranium, abandoned all but 54 of the 416 mining claims it held at the Big Chunk prospects just north of the Pebble deposit. Liberty Star Uranium CEO/Chief Geologist Jim Briscoe, stated, ‘The problems that have caused Anglo American to withdraw from the area tell us the time for development is not yet upon us’. The National Parks Conservation Association certainly hopes that these indications make 2014 the year that it’s decided that fish come first forever in Bristol Bay and the nearby Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.”
“Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, located less than 15 miles from the proposed Pebble Mine site, was created in 1980 to protect a portion of Bristol Bay’s one-of-a-kind ecosystem and the local, traditional subsistence lifestyles so closely tied to wild salmon. Congress recognized the importance of designating Lake Clark National Park and Preserve to protect a portion of the Bristol Bay ecosystem’s health and productivity. But our national park alone is not enough to ensure the fishery’s thriving biological diversity and balance, especially if salmon habitat and related resources in the park are compromised by mining activity upstream and outside its boundary. The National Parks Conservation Association believes that mining operations with potential to cause serious and extensive harm to wild salmon habitat do not belong in the headwaters of Bristol Bay and they certainly do not belong upstream of our national park.”
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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