Next month, the fly fishing industry will set aside a Day for Bristol Bay. One day for anglers, fly shops, brands, outfitters, lodges, guides and more to dedicate their support to protecting the world's greatest wild salmon fishery. One day to pool their collective efforts—and to put their money where their mouths are—to generate funding to fuel the efforts of the Bristol Bay Defense Fund.
As the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) puts it, the fly fishing industry has "been fighting for over a decade to keep Pebble Mine from devastating Bristol Bay and the fisheries that sustain 14,000 jobs, a $1.5 billion dollar annual economic engine, native communities and a world-class destination to fly fish." And that's true. But how do you fight a foreign mining company with virtually unlimited resources that has determined it is willing to spend whatever it takes to make the Pebble Mine a reality?
The key, most folks will tell you, is grassroots support. The good news is, opponents of Pebble have had no trouble generating just that. In fact, for at least the last decade, a diverse coalition of native Alaskans, commercial fishermen, recreational anglers, hunters, birders, hikers and lovers of wild places from all walks of life have joined forces to prevent foreign interests from building one of the world's largest open pit mines at the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak rivers in Bristol Bay, Alaska. That coalition has protested, contacted lawmakers to express their opposition, sent millions of comments to the EPA instructing decision makers to put a permanent end to mining in the Bristol Bay region and more.
Yet, here we are. Still needing to do more. Still needing to fight the once-dead mine whose corpse was reanimated by Donald Trump's EPA (under disgraced former director Scott Pruitt), despite being blocked by the very same agency under the previous administration via powers granted to it under the Clean Water Act.
Part of today's coalition of resistance to Pebble Mine is the Bristol Bay Defense Fund, which AFFTA calls "the front-line group that is going toe-to-toe in D.C. with the foreign mining interests behind the mine." The Bristol Bay Defense Fund's mission is to make sure the voices of Pebble Mine's grassroots opposition is heard by those with the power to prevent it in Washington D.C. That mission takes many forms, whether coordinating with lawyers, scientists, government affairs specialists and experts in the federal permitting process; communicating with anglers and the rest of the outdoor community through paid advertising campaigns; funding travel for native Alaskans to visit D.C. and speak with lawmakers; gathering research; coordinating with other groups dedicated to stopping the Pebble Mine; and more.
To help support that mission, on August 24th, AFFTA is organizing a Day for Bristol Bay, when shops, lodges, guides will pledge to donate up to 10% of their revenue for the day to the Bristol Bay Defense Fund. Anglers and others who wish to help raise funds can donate directly at any time, or simply spend money on August 24th with businesses that have pledged their support for Bristol Bay. Buy some flies, stop in and pick up that new rod you've been saving up for, replace those worn out boots, treat yourself to a guide trip or book travel to a lodge—just do it with a business that has decided to make it a Day for Bristol Bay.
To learn more about how you can participate in a Day for Bristol Bay, find participating retailers and more, head here.