Statement by Melissa Blair, Associate Director, Alaska Region, National Parks Conservation Association
Background: The Nondalton Tribal Council has denounced a recent decision by its village corporation to partner with a mineral exploration and development firm to advance the Groundhog Mine prospect in southwest Alaska. Nondalton, a small, Alaska Native Village, is located immediately downstream of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, about four miles east of the Pebble Mine prospect and six miles southeast of the Groundhog Mine prospect. Nondalton residents’ opposition to future large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed is well-documented and widely-shared throughout the region.
“Nondalton’s drinking water flows straight from Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. This is one community that should never have to worry that new industrial mines may threaten their clean water, wild salmon, and culture.”
“Like many of Nondalton’s residents, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) was surprised to learn that ‘ aggressively marketing the Groundhog prospect to potential developers’ is a ‘first order of business’ of the newly formed Chuchuna Minerals Company. For more than 10 years, Nondalton’s residents have been vocal, steadfast opponents of Pebble Mine and the larger industrial mining district – including Groundhog - that it could spawn. It’s understandable that Nondalton residents are frustrated by this corporate decision which does not reflect their traditional values and desires to protect their clean water, wild salmon, hunting grounds, sacred sites, and culture.”
“The Groundhog mineral prospect is located just outside the boundary of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in the Chulitna River watershed. Known as one of the most important subsistence harvest areas for Nondalton, the Chulitna River flows into Lake Clark and holds many of Nondalton’s sacred sites and hunting grounds.”
“Lake Clark National Park and Preserve was created in 1980 with a Congressional mandate 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. 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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