The Fight to Save Bristol Bay — An Update from the Front Lines

save bristol bay

ANCHORAGE & WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the final weeks of the permitting process for the proposed Pebble mine, slated to be the largest open pit mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska, anglers have led the charge to raise this issue to the White House. Across the country, sportsmen and women have called on President Trump to deny the key federal permit for the proposed copper and gold mine.  

On Wednesday, May 20th, fly fishing industry leaders delivered a letter to the President signed by over 250 fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation businesses and groups that requested the President deny Pebble’s Clean Water Act 404 permit.  

The letter was delivered by CEOs of The Orvis Company, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, and Trout Unlimited, stating that, “if built, the mine would immediately jeopardize thousands of American jobs, hundreds of businesses, a sportfishing and hunting paradise, and thriving outdoor industries.” Read the full letter here 

The letter was delivered alongside a similar letter signed individually by over 30,000 anglers from across the country. Trout Unlimited campaign organizers reported that 24,500 of those signatures were gathered in three days, a strong indication that the fishing community remains committed to stopping Pebble 

With the support of the national fly fishing community, anglers in Alaska have also made strong efforts to move Alaska’s Governor Michael Dunleavy away from supporting the Canadian mining company and proposal.  

After a string of bad actions including nominating a Pebble employee to the state Board of Fish, and an April letter sent to the Army Corps of Engineers that incorrectly stated that “Pebble is important to Alaskans,” Bristol Bay business owners and guides responded strongly. Over 50 Bristol Bay lodges and outfitters wrote a letter to the Governor reminding him of their staunch opposition to the project, which was also highlighted in a full-page ad in the Anchorage Daily News on May 10th. Bristol Bay guides produced a video calling out the Governor for his actions, and reminding him that sportsmen and women in Alaska are part of the over 60% statewide opposition to the project. Watch the video here.  

  • On Friday, May 22nd, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced significant last-minute changes to the “preferred alternative” for the proposed mine, which would now utilize a northern transportation route as opposed to an ice breaking ferry across Lake Iliamna. The Corps stated that they do not plan to conduct any new environmental analysis or provide additional opportunity for public comment and input. 
  • These efforts and proposal changes come in the final weeks of the permitting process for the proposed Pebble mine. A Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is on track to be released in June 2020, and a Record of Decision on Pebble’s permit will made as early as 30 days following the FEIS.

  • Head over to to take action for Bristol Bay, and stay connected to Trout Unlimited’s efforts by following the campaign on Instagram (@SaveBristolBay).  

— Meghan Barker, Trout Unlimited