Bristol Bay's natural resources good as gold

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I have just become aware of the proposed Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska. I encourage the citizens of Alaska to resist the lure of the potential wealth the developers of this mine hope to create. The price is much too high.

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The loss of clean water in that watershed and the resulting decimation of the fisheries and other wildlife, not to mention the loss of traditional ways of life, will not make up for what you hope to gain.

In Montana, we have too many examples of gold mines leaving a permanent toxic legacy. The Zortman-Landusky mine is now a byword.

In our state we have finally outlawed cyanide heap leaching. We have too much experience with polluters promising they will keep their poisons out of the environment, only to find such promises empty. They say they will follow all applicable rules, while spending their efforts and money on lobbying the government to ensure such regulations are as lax as possible.

Do you really want the largest dam in the world holding a reservoir of deadly toxin?

We have such a reservoir in Butte. Birds alighting on the water filling the Berkeley Pit die of poisoning. The state is now in the midst of cleaning toxic mine residue that accumulated behind the Milltown Dam. The entire Clark Fork River has been re-routed and the cleanup will take years. And here in Great Falls, we are not even allowed to walk over the hill that used to be the site of a huge smelter.

Do the research online to learn the truth about these and other disasters the land and citizens of Montana have suffered because of what we once thought was good for our economy and our pocketbooks.

I beg you to preserve the salmon, preserve the water, preserve the traditional ways of life that depend on this pristine and matchless environment. It is a resource worth much more than gold.

Hilary Ransdell Lewin

Great Falls, Mont.

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