Outdoor, sporting businesses plead EPA to restrict Pebble Mine

Posted: Monday, February 28, 2011

Organizations from around the country have voiced their opinions in support of Bristol Bay. More than 360 groups representing sportsmen, outdoor and recreation businesses have put their names in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining associated with the proposed Pebble Mine by means of the Clean Water Act.

“Protecting Bristol Bay is currently the number one conservation issue for the United States fly fishing industry,” Chairman Jim Klug of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association said in a press release. “More than 150 sport fishing product companies have directly signed on to support protecting Bristol Bay’s fish and game habitat and economic resources, and hundreds more have voiced their opposition to Pebble Mine. We strongly urge the EPA and Obama administration to protect this amazing place.”

The letter states the mine prospect presents long-lasting threats, especially to the fish habitat. It states Bristol Bay produces $60 million annually from sport fishing and generates 800 full- and part-time jobs.

The EPA announced earlier this month it’s planning a scientific assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed to better understand how such development projects may affect water quality and fishing.

In the release, Trout Unlimited President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Wood said “Hunters and anglers commend the EPA for taking this first important step. 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.”

EPA spokesman Mark MacIntyre said it’s not surprising the agency received such a letter, given the conservation initiatives surrounding the area.

“This particular press release is one of many, many voices that is being added to this conversation,” he said. “We want to hear from people is the bottom line.”

In the EPA release for the assessment announcement, EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran said this is the time to gather data and public input.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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