Monday, December 18, 2006

BLM Still Pushing for Bristol Bay Mining District

Editor's Note: The following information comes from Scott Hed, Outreach director for the Sportsman's Alliance for Alaska:

ACTION ALERT: BLM Still Pushing for Bristol Bay Mining District!

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) accepting public comments on its Draft Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (RMP/EIS) for 2.5 million acres in the Bristol Bay and Goodnews Bay region over the next couple of weeks with a comment deadline of Friday, January 5.

As many of you know, the State of Alaska is currently reviewing permits for the proposed massive Pebble Mine north of Lake Iliamna. To compound the potential problem for Bristol Bay’s magnificent fish and game resources, BLM's "preferred" alternative recommends that the agency create a major mining district in Bristol Bay by taking the following actions:

*OPENING another 1 million acres of Bristol Bay lands to mining development, including tributaries of the Nushagak, Mulchatna, and Kvichak Rivers.

*REJECTING public nominations for a special management designation that would recognize the threats posed by the proposed Pebble Mine, and apply protections to the area's fish and wildlife habitat.

*ADOPTING changes to allow the permitting of new mining operations, which could ultimately become "sources of irretrievable loss of wildlife habitat and subsistence resources" (dRMP at 4-118)

What’s at Stake?
- World class salmon and rainbow trout fisheries within tributaries of the Kvichak, Mulchatna, and Nushagak Rivers.
- Critical big game migration corridors, calving and winter grounds for the Mulchatna caribou herd, as well as forage for trophy brown bear and moose.
- A thriving sport fishing and hunting industry in this remote corner of southwest Alaska.

What are the Alternatives?

Alt. A (No Action) - maintain current management direction that is keeping BLM lands closed to mineral development and providing untarnished habitat for wildlife habitat.

Alt. B (Pro-Resource Development) – all BLM lands would be opened to mining.

Alt. C (Pro-Resource Conservation) – designate an Area of Critical Environmental Concern for BLM lands. They would be opened to mineral development, but a special Fish and Wildlife habitat management plan would be created to limit negative impacts.

Alt. D (BLM’s “Preferred” Alternative) – mirroring Alt. B, this choice would open ALL one million acres of federal public lands in the Bristol Bay watershed to mineral entry and development. No special management plan would be created for fish and wildlife.

What are the Potential Impacts?
Privatization of federal lands for mining operations and the construction of roads, bridges, and infrastructure to support commercial developments would likely lead to:

• Habitat fragmentation • Increased road access into wildlife habitat
• Increased competition • Disturbance to wildlife behavior and migration
• Increased poaching and trespass • Concentrated hunting along new road corridors
• Decrease in water quality • Decline in fisheries and spawning habitat

Submit written comments via

BLM Anchorage Field Office
Attn: Bristol Bay draft RMP
6881 Abbott Loop Road
Anchorage, Alaska 99507-2599

View the draft plan at:

Scott Hed
Outreach Director
Sportsman's Alliance for Alaska
(605) 336-6738 office

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