All That Glitters

September 16, 2013  •  2 Comments

Alaska 2013 0248Alaska 2013 0248Marah and Holly Pics from Quest Gala at Ludlow Town Hall One of my favorite songs is "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell which includes the line "you don't know what you've got till it's gone". This song has been in the back of my mind as I have been sorting through my 1200+ images and videos from Alaska. Reflecting back on the incredible beauty of Alaska and the phenomenal abundance of fish and wildlife, I had a glimpse into the abundance that the first colonists wrote about when they arrived on the Atlantic shore of America. The abundance in Alaska is to a large degree built upon the various species of salmon many of which return from Bristol Bay and migrate up the rivers of the Alaska Peninsula and Lake Iliamna watersheds. Water is in abundance in these lowland, tundra areas and the water is connected to Bristol Bay. In the 1980's one of the world's largest copper ore deposits was identified on the northwestern side of the Lake Iliamna watershed between the Koktuli river and Talarick Creek. This deposit, known as Pebble, also contains gold and molybdenum and has become the site of a proposed open pit mine. The size of the deposit and the potential mine are mind numbing in size. To extract the several billion pounds of copper would require the grinding and extraction of billions of tons of ore as the copper content is only about 1% by volume and distributed in the ore as fine grains. The billion plus tons of ore tailings would then be stored in huge impoundments behind dams projected by some to be taller than Hoover dam. Of course large volumes of water from the streams and rivers would be required, and these same streams can also be contaminated by an impoundment failure. The Pebble Mine partnership promises huge economic benefits to the people of the region and to Alaska while assuring everyone that this can be done in a manner that protects the fishery of Bristol Bay, the largest salmon fishery in the world. Many Alaskans whose livelihood and way of life depend upon the salmon don't think the mine is worth the risk. Others who have visited and hunted and fished the area also wonder if the mine is worth the risk. I fished the Koktuli River and Talarick Creek in 1999 and the images here are reflective of what the area looks like. I am lucky enough to afford to visit and enjoy this pristine area and not sure how much weight my opinion should hold. I do think that the people of the area need to be given the final voice on the mine and whether the jobs and money are worth the potential environmental risk. However, I do know what will be lost when it's gone.

Alaska 2013 0323Alaska 2013 0323Marah and Holly Pics from Quest Gala at Ludlow Town Hall Alaska 2013 0595Alaska 2013 0595Marah and Holly Pics from Quest Gala at Ludlow Town Hall

 


Comments

Lonnie Hearne(non-registered)
Another line in "Yellow Taxi" is "they take paradise and put up a parking lot...". To me it speaks to counting the cost of our choices. Here in TN, the TN Wildlife Resources Agency is trying to drill horizontally to extract and frack on State owned wildlife refuge/ recreational land in East TN. Everywhere in our nation, pressure to mine, frack etc. is mounting. I would love to be able to trust what industry says regarding protecting the environment.... But their track record makes that very difficult and it's hard to undo stupid. Let's hope the right choice is made in Alaska!
Edith L. Sundby(non-registered)
"Something is lost and something is gained every day." Your reflections on the unspoiled, wilderness beauty of Alaska reverberate with all. The same choices have been made since matriarchal man began procreating about 250,000 years ago, and continue to be made all over the world, especially in Africa. There are no easy answers, just painful questions.
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