© Pat Clayton

Alaskans Take a Stand for Salmon

Alaskans Take a Stand for Salmon

Alaskan’s are hitting the ground running with a grassroots campaign for the Stand for Salmon ballot initiative.

As Alaska’s fishing season kicks into high gear, there’s a dark cloud looming overhead: the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay. This proposed gold and copper mine, now in its second incarnation, is being fast tracked through the federal permitting process at unprecedented speed. All while millions of Americans have spoken out against Pebble and a groundswell of Alaskans continue to fight it.

But where the federal government and Alaska’s own Governor and Legislature have failed to protect salmon, Alaskans are stepping up to meaningfully protect these fish—the lifeblood of coastal communities and the state’s most renewable resource.

After more than a decade of grassroots campaigns to protect salmon in the face of damaging development (think: Susitna Dam, Chuitna Coal Mine, in addition to Pebble)—Alaskans have joined together in the Stand for Salmon campaign to solve the root of the problem: the state’s lack of clear standards to guide development where it impacts fish habitat. The Stand for Salmon campaign will put new standards in place that ensure developers don’t sacrifice wild fish or clean water for gold and other minerals.

This initiative will make sure we don’t trade one resource for another as we grow.
– Kodiak resident and Bristol Bay fisherman Alexus Kwachka

This year, the Alaska Legislature, dominated by special interests, once again fell short of creating salmon habitat protections. Not surprisingly, 42,000 Alaskans from all walks of life have picked up the dropped ball and put the Stand for Salmon initiative on the statewide ballot for November.

It couldn’t come at a more important time. The Pebble Mine proposal, the first phase of what the company has admitted will be a more extensive mining operation, would wipe out 30 miles of salmon streams and 3,000 acres of wetlands at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. The ballot initiative would force Pebble to rethink its plans, guaranteeing that Alaskans will not have to clean up Pebble’s toxic mess and put Bristol Bay headwaters back together again.

An opposition group, led by Pebble and several other international mining companies, has raised nearly $3 million and launched a digital advertising campaign against the initiative that’s stretching the truth beyond recognition. We know we will be outspent, but our ground game is strong: the Stand for Salmon campaign is hitting the streets this summer to talk to Alaskans across the state. Wild Salmon Center will be working long hours at campaign headquarters in Anchorage and around the state providing policy, outreach, and communications support—led by Alaska Director Emily Anderson and Senior Campaign Manager Sam Snyder. It will take support from salmon advocates everywhere to ensure Stand for Salmon’s success on election day in November.

This campaign is about securing the long-term health of some of the world’s most important salmon rivers and the communities that depend on them. Alaska has a short window of time to avoid the mistakes of the Lower 48, where salmon habitat has suffered, and resuscitation requires multi-billion-dollar, tax-payer funded recovery projects.

“By defining proper protections for salmon habitat now, Alaska will live up to its legacy as the last and greatest bastion for wild salmon,” Professor David Montgomery, author of King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon wrote recently. “Seize the chance to break the sorry cycle of historical loss for the king of fish.”

If we all Stand for Salmon, Alaska can remain the “salmon state” for generations to come.

Paid for by Wild Salmon Center Political Activities Fund, Portland Oregon. Top three donors: Guido Rahr, Portland, OR, Dave Finkel, Portland, OR, Ken Morrish, Ashland, OR.

Continue The Story