I was on the staff of American Rivers, working on clean water supply issues in the Southeast. Now I’m heading to Bristol Bay, Alaska. As my river stakeholder status shifts from ‘advocate’ to ‘fisherman’, I look forward to seeing our fight for wild rivers and clean water through a new lens. Never before have I been truly dependent on a river—for my food, for my finances, and for my security.
The first Bristol Bay sockeye will be caught in early June, and by mid-July, the total catch will be almost 40 million fish—the largest sockeye salmon run in the world. Those that escape our nets (a highly managed and calculated number) will return to the remote headwaters of Bristol Bay to lay their eggs, along the way supporting a way of life for numerous indigenous tribes, subsistence fisherman, grizzly bears, and the entire ecosystem. These salmon and their rivers are threatened by the Pebble Mine — if built in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, it would be the largest open pit mine in the world.