Candadian miners or Alaskan fishermen?

Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2001

I am curious why Lew Williams (recent My Turn columns) and Sen. Robin Taylor support a Canadian mine on a major Taku River tributary and do not recognize that the real value of the Taku is its productive fisheries. Does the senator represent Canadian miners or Alaskan fishermen?

Families of people who fish, build boats, construct nets, sell fuel, transport fish and provide other tools of the trade are dependent on a healthy Taku River watershed. How would these families benefit from a Canadian mine? Reopening a mine that has been leaking acid waste into the Tulsequah River and down to the Taku itself for 50 years would directly threaten Taku salmon and Alaskans dependent on this resource. Rather than supporting re-opening this mine, Williams should be concerned about cleaning it up.

Has Williams thought how expensive it will be to build and maintain a road over this rugged terrain? We can't even keep up with maintenance demands of existing roads. As someone who lives on Thane Road, I don't want to see the place I live turned into an industrial highway.

I understand that Lew Williams is looking to the future and what is best for the Southeast Alaska economy. But, this future is right in front of him. This year we had an excellent run of sockeye salmon in the Taku and the coho run also looks good. Our economic future requires us to be good stewards of this magnificent resource.

Gov. Knowles has been supportive of protecting the Taku salmon fisheries and I applaud that. And there are more than just the governor and conservationists, as Williams' claims, opposed to this mine. Fishermen, fishing businesses, outfitters, guides and First Nations on both sides of the border oppose this destructive mine and are calling for stewardship of this vital watershed.

Later this year major decisions are coming, including public hearings, on the Tulsequah Chief mine. I urge all Southeast Alaskans who understand the value of healthy salmon fisheries to speak out against this mine.

Chris Zimmer


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