Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN-SPR 2018

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 74 of 83 | 75 largest environmental disaster in modern Canadian history." Could something like that happen in Bristol Bay? Nelli Williams grew up in the Midwest, hunting and fishing, but since childhood dreamed of living in Alaska. "I always had the Alaska bug," she says. After college, she did volunteer work, which ultimately led her to Trout Unlimited. Now, 10 years later, she's the Alaska program director for Trout Unlimited and living in Anchorage. "Pebble could happen in the next five years if people don't speak out now," she says. Nelli is encouraged by the diverse base of opposition, and how Alaskans are coming together to fight this threat. "But still," she contends, "we've got a big fight ahead." She's ready. Significant strides were made in 2014 when the EPA released its Proposed Determination to limit mining within the Bristol Bay region, citing the mine would cause irreversible and unacceptable damage to the Bristol Bay salmon ecosystem. In 2016, the Inspector General determined the EPA acted fairly in its assessment, the findings of which ultimately directed the agency to limit mining activities in Bristol Bay due to its unacceptable risk. Then in 2017, the new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, and Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier held a brief, closed-door meeting. Soon after, the administrator, in a shocking move, directed staff to withdraw important protections for Bristol Bay. So, a new battle for Bristol Bay has begun. Nelli Williams contends that Alaska needs both state-based protections as well as long-term protection from the EPA and other federal agencies. Pebble's next step is to begin the permitting process at both governmental levels; and the people of Alaska, the Lower 48 and the international community need to speak up for the future of this amazing place called Bristol Bay. Their life really does depend on it. Elijah Lawson has spoken up, and he's doing his part. For three decades, Elijah has fished Bristol Bay with his family. His love for salmon, for the culture and the unique way of life in Bristol Bay is evident in a documentary he created, In the Same Boat. "This issue is so BIG, and these people are so important," he says, "I wanted to do something to make a difference. Everything subsists off salmon here. This is how I see it," he continues, "the rivers and waters are the veins of the earth; the salmon rushing up to fill the rivers are the blood." "It's simple," he said. "If you don't have salmon, you don't have life." In the summer of 2017, the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game estimated that over 20 million wild sockeye salmon escaped into the spawning habitat at the headwaters of the five major river systems in Bristol Bay. Photo by Bob Waldrop.

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