Alice’s Angle, Never Have I Ever: Bristol Bay

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Photo by Louis Cahill

By: Alice Tesar

I’ve never fished for sockeye salmon. I’ve never been to Alaska.

When my husband and I decided to add a kid to our crew we knew adventures like this might be put on hold on. We named our son Brooks for many reasons, but we’ve also joked it’s because he’d help us get to these new places for adventure, like the Brooks Range of Alaska. Other places have enticed us too, mostly saltwater fisheries (because that is where our buddies go) but we all know Alaska offers pristine open space, few people, and loads of wildlife.  Today, our Alaska trip seems to be getting further and further away. Not because of work, or our kid, or money but because of the greed of a few. So, few, in fact, they go by the name Pebble Partnership. The truth, however, is their impact will be much larger than a pebble. 

The proposed open-pit mine is at the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers which run into the Bristol Bay. The Pebble Mine would be one of the largest mines in the world. Aside from the size of the mine, the disruption of geology in the area would cause massive destruction to the world’s most productive wild salmon run. Why is the salmon run so productive? Easy, because the surrounding habitat has not been manipulated by the dirty hands of industry. Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks are some of the nation’s largest parks, boasting 8.3 million acres of pristine wilderness. On top of saving this crucial resource, the open pit mine and all its legs run the risk of harming the region’s social, cultural, and economic welfare. With 30 plus Alaskan Native Tribes in the region who depend on healthy salmon runs and the current Bristol Bay fishery, worth $1.5 billion and employing 14,000 people, we can’t ignore the hardship many Americans will face with the Pebble Mine operation. 

I’ve been told the work-force in the world is changing, with automation, many of our jobs will become obsolete. The jobs we will hold in the next 50 years would be completely unrecognizable to us today. Something tells me this doesn’t have to be as true for the jobs that exist around the few wild places remaining. The jobs that that Pebble Partnership are proposing are a short-term solution to the extensive and long-term jobs that the tourism and commercial fishing industries offer presently. As someone whose livelihood depends upon a healthy river, I have empathy for my fellow Americans who are fighting for their jobs and their culture, but I also know that we aren’t easy to give up our fishing holes. This is not a unique situation. Sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and mountaintop mining in Appalachia are both at risk of destroying waterways, established economies, and cultures that rely on them. Saving Bristol Bay will set a precedent for a waterway near you.  As anglers, we tread lightly, we listen to the nuances of nature, and we are persistent as fuck.

Visit to learn more about what you can do to help.


The Bristol Bay Times, Pebble Mine’s draft EIS released by Isabell Ross, KDLG

Alice Tesar
Alice guides for Steamboat Flyfisher in Steamboat Springs CO.
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One thought on “Alice’s Angle, Never Have I Ever: Bristol Bay

  1. The said thing is that there is going to be immense pressure now to go forward with the Pebble Mine due to the trade war with China. The reason being is that China is currently the largest supplier of heavy metals and rare earth elements. We need those raw materials for our military and many technologies. With the threat of cutting us off of those, it raises national security concerns when, if pushed – may be able to get exemptions regarding the mining operation. We need to preserve this land and it’s current state of health. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and the salmon fishery may not be able to recover. I hope that our politicians look back at our mining history to see what affects it’s had on the environment and the costs both in monetary and qualitative terms in order to see that building a mine at Bristol Bay is not a viable solution and cannot be built in good conscience.

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