Alaska’s Bristol Bay is a natural wonder. Millions of salmon return here each year to spawn, creating the world’s largest salmon runs. The Bay Region’s five Pacific Salmon species account for more than 55 percent of wild sockeye salmon production in the world. These public lands support abundant wildlife, sport and commercial fishing, Alaska Native cultures, and sustainable recreation and hunting economies.
Last year, offshore areas and nearly all public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Bristol Bay were opened by President Bush for drilling and mining – without providing any protections for critical salmon habitat and other important wildlife. Bristol Bay is now under intense threat by development proposals for offshore oil and gas drilling and the proposed Pebble Mine Project on adjacent state lands.
Fortunately, the Obama administration realizes they inherited some flawed management decisions, providing an opening to save Bristol Bay. The best hope to save this irreplaceable fishery is to ask President Obama’s Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, to reconsider misguided Bush-era decisions.
Bush’s decisions are not irreversible, but the damage they’re causing will be.