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pebble mine draft environmental impact Statement

The Army Corps has released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Pebble mine and has opened a 90-day public comment on that document. The comment period is currently set to close on May 30 and will include a number of public hearings.

The project, as proposed in Pebble’s Army Corps permit application, includes many industrial-scale elements. The Pebble Project in its entirety has the potential to catastrophically endanger salmon fisheries that are the primary food source for brown bear in the region. Additional elements that pose direct threats to brown bears include:

  • A private two-lane 83-mile-long road with more than 200 stream crossings and 8 large bridges that would pass within 400 yards from the McNeil River Refuge and less than ten miles from Katmai National Preserve;

  • An ice-breaker barge system across Lake Iliamna with two lakeside terminals in important salmon habitat;

  • A private and large port facility on Cook Inlet near salmon streams and extending more than 4 miles into the inlet waters and only 2 miles from McNeil River Refuge.

The Full DEIS Document can be reviewed here. Additional talking points on the DEIS are also available on the Save Bristol Bay blog.

What you can do to help

  1. Comment on the Pebble Project DEIS today. If you believe that the Pebble mine will harm Alaska’s famed McNeil River, Katmai, and Lake Clark brown bears, comment in support of the “No Action Alternative”.

  2. Personalize your comments based on your primary concerns. Feel free to pull from the facts below.

  3. If you are a business owner in the region, or if you have ever visited or plan on visiting the region, please say so in your comment. Include relevant details about your experience and motivations for viewing bears, along with any personal impacts from the trip. This is important to show that many people would be directly affected by this project.

  4. Share with others to get them to submit comments!

Facts

  1. Transportation corridors will directly impact brown bears. One of the greatest threats to brown bears comes from the proposed transportation corridors, which significantly threaten brown bears in the following ways:

  • Habitat displacement including denning habitat

  • Change in movement due to noise

  • Negative and fatal interaction with vehicle traffic

  • Increased defense of life & property killings

  • Food conditioning

  • Increased hunting from mine employees

  • Cumulative effects of road construction, increased activity, and spills

2. The DEIS analysis only looks at impacts within a 3-mile radius of the proposed road and port, even though southwestern Alaska brown bears can have ranges as large as 240 square miles.

“The data and analysis provided in the Affected Environment and the Environmental Consequences sections of the DEIS are not adequate, in my opinion, to fully understand and evaluate the effects of potential management alternatives on brown bear habitat and populations in this area.” - Lowell Suring, wildlife biologist, DEIS comments

3. Brown bear impacts will negatively impact the regional economy. With hundreds of lodges and flight services in the Bristol Bay and Cook Inlet regions, brown bear viewing contributes significantly to the state tourist economy. Any and all impacts to the brown bears will have direct economic impacts to households who depend on bear viewing tourism.

4. Key economic findings from a recent University of Alaska - Fairbanks report, “Economic Contributions of Bear Viewing in Southcentral Alaska” by Taylor B. Young and Joseph M. Little:

  • Overall Importance of Bear Viewing

    • Bearing viewing is a vital and growing part of the economies of Bristol Bay, Southwest and Southcentral Alaska economies

    • Total annual economic value of bear viewing to Southcentral and Southwest Alaska exceeds $35 million

    • Total annual wages and benefits of bear viewing - $3.8 Million

    • Total Expenditures - $5.2 million

      • More than half of annual bear viewing  trips/ expenditures in Alaska are Alaskan residents

    • Bear-viewing tourism is booming throughout Bristol Bay and Cook Inlet

    • Kenai Peninsula Communities - Homer, Kenai and surrounding communities are vital hubs for tourist and operators visiting Bristol Bay bear viewing regions

    • 74% of local expenditures related to bear viewing stay within Southcentral Alaska

    • Bear viewing supports lodges, hotels, restaurants, air and boat taxis, guides and outfitters, grocery stores and many more businesses.

  • McNeil River

    • Via lottery, bear viewing generates nearly $100,000 annually to the State of Alaska (Fish and Game Fund)

    • 60% of visitors to McNeil River are Alaskans

  • Katmai National Park

    • Economic output of Katmai National Park is $84.65 Million

    • More than 30,000 visitors a year to the park

    • 79% of visitors to the park are visiting for bear viewing

    • Alongside sport fishing, bear viewing is the most popular activity reported in Katmai National park and supports dozens of air taxi services

  • Lake Clark National Park

    • Total Economic output of Lake CLark National Park is $50.93 million

    • In past decade visitorship to Lake CLark National Park has more than quadrupled - 17,000 visitors a year.

    • Bear viewing in Lake Clark national park (can this be extrapolated out ot Bristol bay?) has surpassed sport fishing

Submit your comment on the Pebble Project DEIS today.

 

Already worked on the issues above? You can always speak up for wildlife by writing to your local paper, reaching out to your representative, or hosting a wildlife event. Click here to learn how!