“Initiative would halt large-scale resource extraction”


Mar 12, 2011

Written by Margaret Bauman, “Bristol Bay Times“,  March 3rd, 2011

(Reprinted with permission of Alaska Newspapers Inc)

A petition application filed with Lake and Peninsula Borough seeks to halt any large-scale resource extraction activity, including mining, if that activity could destroy or degrade salmon.

The petition was filed yesterday in King Salmon by George Jacko, of Pedro Bay, lead sponsor of the “Save our Salmon” initiative, who said “this initiative is about giving a voice to the Alaskans who will be most affected by industrial development in Bristol Bay.”

“We need about 90 signatures; we’ll try to get more. We want it to be on the regular ballot in the fall,” Jacko said.

The borough now has 30 days to review the application, to be sure it is in order, and if everything is in order, they can then take a petition out to seek the needed signatures to put the initiative on the ballot, said Lamar Cotten, borough manager.

The stated purpose of the petition, signed by 24 people, is to protect salmon habitat from destruction or degradation during large scale mining activities within the borough. The signers include Robert Gillam, president and chief executive officer of McKinley Capital Management, an investment advisory company he founded in 1990. An avid sport fisherman, Gillam has had a home at Lake Clark for 27 years.

The petition notes the importance of salmon as a renewable resource which supports both the economy and subsistence lifestyle of borough residents. It calls for protections against any resource extraction activities that could have a significant adverse impact on wild salmon habitat or the sustained abundance of the wild salmon resource.

The initiative also calls for an opportunity for residents to obtain court review of any proposed development that could have a significant adverse impact on wild salmon habitat or the sustained abundance of the wild salmon resource.

The petition is the latest in a series of efforts to halt development of a massive copper, gold and molybdenum mine at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, which spawns millions of sockeye salmon for the world’s largest wild red salmon run. Mine opponents say that scientific research has shown that the Pebble mine could cause major environmental pollution, spelling disaster for the Bristol Bay fishery, the economic anchor of the region.

Proponents of the mine maintain that mining and fisheries can co-exist.

In a speech today before more than 300 members of the Resource Development Council in Anchorage, Cynthia Carroll, chief executive officer of Anglo American, an international mining firm based in London, criticized outside interests opposed to the mine. “I want to make one thing absolutely clear: fish and mining can co-exist,” she said. Anglo America is a partner in the Pebble Partnership, which is doing exploration on the Pebble mine.

Margaret Bauman can be reached at mbauman@alaskanewspapers.com, or by phone at 907-348-2438


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