Cameras With A Cause: Pebble Mine Alaska

Posted Jun. 22nd, 2018 by Daniel J. Cox

Cameras With A Cause: Pebble Mine Alaska

This past week I was in Alaska. If you’ve ever been to Alaska and have an appreciation for wild animals and places, you know what I’m referring to when I say that Alaska is magical.

Pebble Mine

Headwaters of the Mulchatna River in southwest Alaska. Lumix G9 with Leica 12-60mm

Most of those who visit Alaska do so for one main reason. Nature! Wild creatures, wild country, clean air, clean water, and the ability to hear the organic sounds of Mother Earth. But as much as many of us talk about how we want these places to exist, few of us ever dig into really making it happen.

Case in point is the mayhem our current Director of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is imposing on all of us by dismantling the safeguards for our water, our air, and places we might want to see protected. This man is demolishing many of the things we say we hold dear, but few are standing up and screaming enough is enough. One of the ways I try to make my voice heard is through my photography which gives me the ability to share with and hopefully inspire others.

Pebble Mine

Alaskan brown bear mother catches a salmon. Katmai National Park, Alaska. Nikon D300 with 200-400mm

Tourism

My trip to Alaska started out as what our office refers to as a scouting trip. Tanya’s typically the one checking new places for our Invitational Photo Tours, but I’ve wanted to explore more places for brown bears and I actually assigned myself to this project. Good thing I’m sometimes in charge. Here’s some interesting facts about Alaska tourism and the commercial fishing industry, two trades important to photography and adventure travel.

  • Statewide, direct visitor industry spending is more than $2.42 billion annually. Tourism generates 38,700 jobs in Alaska and $1.3 billion in labor income.
  • On average, each visitor spends approximately $1,000 in Alaska during their visit, on top of the cost of the airfare or cruise to get there.
  • 60,000 workers in Alaska’s seafood industry earn $1.6 billion in annual labor income, based on 2013 and 2014 averages. Including multiplier effects, the seafood industry accounts for $2.1 billion in total labor income and $5.9 billion in total economic activity in Alaska.
Pebble Mine

Tanya with a big silver salmon she caught in Alaska. Lumix LX10

Pebble Mine

One of my goals other than brown bears was to finally see the wilderness proposed for a gold mine referred to as The Pebble Mine. Northern Dynasty Minerals–even their name suggests domination–plans to deconstruct the landscape for mostly gold and copper. This would trans­form Alaska’s Bristol Bay region which is considered the world’s most productive salmon nursery worth $300 million annually.

Pebble Mine

Berkeley Pit and Yankee Doodle tailings ponds in Butte, MT as seen from space. Used as Public Domain with permission from NASA

Open pit mines are notoriously bad for the environment. Getting these metals out of the ground requires tailings ponds that hold some of the most caustic and deadly chemicals known to man. These chemicals, that could easily be released into the watershed, pose tremendous concerns for many U.S. and Alaska citizens. Mining catastrophes have happened before. In 2015, we had the Gold King mine tailings disaster in Colorado.

Pebble Creek Mine

Exploratory field station on the ground in the heart of what may become the Pebble Mine near Iliamna, Alaska. Lumix G9 with 12-60mm

In 2014, Canada had an equally bad calamity at Mount Polley gold and copper mine in British Columbia. The potential for destroying the world’s largest salmon nursery is just to too risky, and leaving the wilds of Alaska intact for people wanting to get away from the industrial world is just one added benefit of shutting down this disastrous idea. 

How to Help

There are two ways you can get involved. One is help support Earth Justice who is fighting tooth and nail to end this monstrous sinkhole. The second option is to add your voice to the Pebble Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which you have until June 29th before it closes. Let’s keep Alaska pristine. We’ve destroyed most of the wild places we once had here in the lower 48 states. Join this cause before we do the same to Alaska.

 

Add Your Voice!
There is 1 comment on this post…
  1. Timothy BartleyOn Jun. 28th, 2018 (5 months ago)

    Thank you for bringing attention to this important issue! Scott Pruitt is a danger to us all.

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