Preserving a Way of Life in Alaska
Rick Delkittie, Sr., Nondalton, Alaska
Rick and his family rely on salmon and healthy waters for their way of life, just as their ancestors in the Lake Clark region have for generations. For the past two decades, Rick has spoken out against the proposed Pebble Mine and the likely impacts to his family, community and culture. Rick has traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby on four separate occasions, most recently with NPCA staff for the Centennial Lobby Day, during which he spoke to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski about his concerns.
Lake Clark and Katmai National Parks and Preserves in Alaska are two of our wildest national parks. Lake Clark protects the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers that flow into Bristol Bay, home to the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon run. Wild salmon feed generations of families in the region, play an essential role in the ecosystem and support the $2 billion fishing industry that anchors the local economy. Additionally, Katmai hosts one of the most incredible bear-watching opportunities anywhere on the planet.
Mining companies propose building a massive open-pit mine and accompanying infrastructure in the heart of the Bristol Bay region, dangerously close to these incredible national parks. The development, known as Pebble Mine, could decimate Bristol Bay salmon and threaten the wildlife that call these parks home. It also puts Alaska Native communities and Alaska’s fishing and tourism industries at great risk.
Pebble Mine’s initial plan includes a pit one mile wide and a quarter-mile deep, which would destroy over 4,000 acres of wetlands and more than 21 miles of salmon streams. Over 1 billion tons of toxic tailings would be stored behind high-risk dams and left in the pit after potentially 20 years of operations. The newest proposal also includes plans for a port and road between Lake Clark and Katmai National Parks and Preserves, a plan that puts Katmai bears who wander out of the park at risk.
NPCA has stood with Alaskans for years, working together to stop this dangerous proposal from becoming a reality.
I now see that national parks can be used as tools to protect our home. Some places just aren’t meant to have a mine, and this is one of those places.