Hunters, anglers, sportsmen call on Obama administration and federal Environmental Protection Agency to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska

A united coalition of fishing, hunting and sporting organizations from nearly every U.S. state joined together on Thursday to ask the federal Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska from the dangers of the proposed Pebble Mine.

More than 360 organizations, ranging from fly fishing groups to big game hunters, signed a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging her to use the agency’s authority under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining and development. Flycasters of San Jose signed the letter to show support in efforts to stop this threat to the great Bristol Bay fishery.  Next week, representatives of these groups will meet with legislators and agency members in Washington, D.C. to ask for support.

“A huge open-pit mine in the Bristol Bay region could destroy one of the world’s most productive fish and game habitats, kill tourism to this international hunting and fishing mecca, and eliminate jobs from the United States,” said Brian Kraft, owner, Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge and Alaska Sportsman’s Bear Trail Lodge.

The EPA took the first step toward protecting the Southwestern Alaskan region on Feb. 7, when the agency announced plans to assess the Bristol Bay watershed to better understand how future large-scale development projects may affect water quality and Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery.

"Hunters and anglers commend the EPA for taking this first important step,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Bristol Bay is the single most important wild salmon fishery in the world. It generates roughly $450 million a year in economic impact and sustains about 12,000 jobs. We are confident that after the science and other public input are considered, the EPA and the Obama Administration will stand with sport and commercial fishermen and the people of Alaska to protect the extraordinary ecological, economic and cultural value of this place and this fishery."

Bristol Bay is a 40,000 square mile region with nine major rivers, and is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. Pebble Mine would create an open-pit mine up to two miles wide and 1,700 feet deep. Operated by multi-national mining interests, this mine could dump up to 10 billion tons of perpetually toxic waste in the heart of the Bristol Bay watershed. This area is known for frequent earthquakes, which puts the watershed – and all its fish and wildlife - at an even greater risk for long term toxic pollution and severe damage to the fishery.

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