As the owner of a Juneau sport fishing business I well know the value of the Taku's healthy salmon fishery. One of the main reasons why the Taku is usually Southeast Alaska's largest salmon producer is its nearly pristine spawning and rearing habitat, including Flannigan Slough and Shazah Slough.
I am shocked that Gov. Murkowski is supporting British Columbia's plan to reopen the Tulsequah Chief mine and construct a 100-mile access road through the heart of the watershed. The closed mine has been polluting the Taku with poisonous acid mine drainage for nearly 50 years and B.C. has done nothing to stop it. The new mine, its tailings dump and discharge pipes are immediately adjacent to important salmon spawning and rearing areas in the Tulsequah River and just upstream from Flannigan and Shazah Sloughs. Given B.C.'s record of poor enforcement and lack of concern for Alaska's interests in salmon fisheries and clean water, this project is likely to directly harm Taku salmon and the Juneau fishing businesses dependent on this resource. And, the mine will bring no jobs to Juneau.
Thankfully local leaders like Bruce Weyhrauch, Bruce Botelho, Kim Elton and Beth Kerttula are demanding accountability from the Canadians. I hope that other leaders, like Lisa Murkowski, will also stick up for Juneau fishing businesses.