For Immediate Release
July 11, 2008
Kevin Paulson (202)744-5806
Scott Hed (605) 336-6738
HuntingLife.com and Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska Team up for Conservation
Effort Launched to Raise Awareness of the Growing Threat in Alaska’s Bristol Bay Region
Today marks the launch of a special campaign aimed at raising awareness among America’s hunters about a very serious threat facing one of the world’s most iconic sporting destinations: Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay region. While the world of sportfishing has been more aware of the plans to turn this area in southwest Alaska, which is home to the world’s most productive wild salmon fishery and tremendous angling and hunting opportunities, into a massive mining district, the time has come for hunters and the hunting community to further engage in this monumental conservation battle.
“HuntingLife.com has been committed to conservation from day one so it was a natural partnership to work with the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska to protect such amazing resources like Bristol Bay and the Tongass National Forest. Bristol Bay is one of those areas in America where sportsmen from all walks of life dream of hunting moose, caribou and bears or wetting a line pursuing the mighty salmon and trout. Partnering with the Sportman’s Alliance for Alaska on this wonderful project was a no-brainer for Team HuntingLife,” said HuntingLife.com founder Kevin C. Paulson.
For anyone not familiar with the debate raging in Bristol Bay, here is a brief primer. Bristol Bay is home to the largest runs of wild salmon left on the planet, with tens of millions of fish returning every year. The salmon form the cornerstone of an incredibly rich and complex ecosystem which also supports some of the finest trophy wild rainbow trout fishing found in the world, and additional angling opportunities for Dolly Varden, arctic char, lake trout, arctic grayling, and northern pike. Of course the salmon also feed the large population of brown and black bears found in the region. Hunters have traveled to the Bristol Bay area for decades to pursue not only bear, but also trophy moose and caribou from the famed Mulchatna herd in a wild and remote setting. This sporting mecca is located in southwest Alaska, approximately 250 miles from Anchorage, and is only accessible by plane or boat. In the midst of this rich fish and game habitat, a foreign partnership (one British company and one Canadian company) have plans to develop the largest open-pit copper/gold/molybdenum mine in North America. If approved, the Pebble Mine could include a massive open pit mine, an adjacent underground mine, 5 huge earthen dams (including two of the largest on the planet – one being 4.3 miles long and over 740 feet tall), and a tailings lake covering as much as 15 square miles to hold back the toxic byproducts of the mining process. Even more alarming, the Pebble Mine could become the centerpiece of what the mining industry has referred to as a world-class mining district. Over 1,000 square miles of state lands are already staked with mining claims in the region and the federal Bureau of Land Management has proposed lifting the mining restrictions on over 1 million acres of lands under its management in the Bristol Bay region. It’s not hard to imagine that such development in one of the world’s premier hunting and angling destinations would have an impact on fish and game and sportsperson’s opportunities to pursue them.
Scott Hed serves as the Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance for Alaska (SAA), whose goal is to engage sportspersons in the battle for Bristol Bay’s future. “The need is urgent right now to engage hunters in this fight. Hunters and anglers both have a lot at stake in the future of Bristol Bay. While Bristol Bay is most well-known as one of the top sportfishing destinations on the planet, it’s also a premier place for big game hunting. Hunters travel from across the globe to pursue trophy moose, caribou, and bear in this region,” said Hed. In the past year, the Dallas Safari Club, Wildlife Forever, and Izaak Walton League of America have expressed their opposition to the plans to turn Bristol Bay into an industrial mining zone.
Today the SAA is launching a new page on its website to help raise awareness among hunters about this critical issue. At www.SportsmansAlliance4AK.org/BristolBayHunt.html visitors will learn more about hunting in Bristol Bay, view an upcoming advertisement to be placed in Black’s Wing, Clay, and Waterfowl 2009 Guide, and be able to make a donation to the Bristol Bay conservation campaign. Perhaps most exciting is the drawing in which donors will be entered.
Hed added “Through the tremendous support and leadership of conservation-minded companies like HuntingLife.com, Kimber, Leupold, Sitka Gear and Polartec, I’m thrilled that hunters will now be able to learn more about the Bristol Bay region and how they can get involved in the fight to protect an iconic sporting destination. The participation of the Whitney family and Alaska Wilderness Trips, Inc. really put the icing on the cake as we were developing this promotion.”
For a suggested donation of $50, donors will be entered in a drawing for the following prize package:
• 10-day fully guided Alaska moose hunt for 1 hunter in 2009 with Alaska Wilderness Trips, Inc.
• Kimber Model 84M or 8400 Montana rifle in winner’s choice of caliber
• Leupold VX-II 3-9x40mm scope
• 90% Jacket, Ascent pant, and base layer system from Sitka Gear and Polartec
The retail value of the package is approximately $11,700.
“Putting together such an amazing package has been a blast, this is a hunt that any hunter would be more then excited to be a part of,” said HuntingLife.com’s Paulson. The hunt fundraiser will be limited to the first 500 qualifying donations and early responses from hunters aware of the upcoming opportunity to participate indicate that it will be very popular.
When asked why his company chose to support this project, Patrick Mundy, Leupold’s Marketing Communications Supervisor stated simply “As members of the hunting and shooting industry, we are in full support of protecting places like Bristol Bay to preserve hunting lands for future generations for several reasons. Not only is the natural environment critical to conserve, but without hunting lands to access, we lose hunters---which we can ill afford in this day and age.”
Jonathan Hart, Founder and co-owner of Sitka Gear echoed those sentiments. “As a company involved in the hunting industry, Sitka fully supports, and is extremely thankful for, the hard work that the Sportsman¹s Alliance of Alaska is doing to protect the Bristol Bay Region. The bottom line is that the mining proposals would forever compromise the health of the area. The tundra, the big game, and the fisheries in Southwest Alaska are a sustainable resource. The long-term health of the area, both in an economic and an ecosystem sense, depends on those resources. If my kids and your kids can’t hunt and fish there when they’re older, we’ve screwed up big time.”
For Alaskan guide Clark Whitney, Jr. who will be guiding the moose hunt for the winner of the drawing, the matter is even more personal. “I shot my first trophy bull caribou right at the mouth of Talarik Creek (one of the creeks that would be drained to provide water for the mine) when I was 13 years old, and the mine footprint area is a traditional calving grounds for the Mulchatna caribou herd. If this mine is permitted, it will have a devastating effect on these animals and this region’s wild character will forever be lost.”
Contributions to this promotion will be designated for brochures and other informational materials, travel for staff and volunteers to make Bristol Bay conservation presentations to clubs and organizations, day-to-day expenses and other direct costs.
“For someone looking to lend support to an incredibly important conservation campaign and possibly end up on that Alaska hunting trip of a lifetime, this is a tremendous way to help make a difference. While we can’t match the dollars that the mining companies are throwing at this fight, sportspersons have always shown a passion and a willingness to fight for places they care about,” concluded SAA’s Hed.
Thursday, July 10, 2008