Protecting America’s best stronghold
Alaska is one of the most extensive and intact wild salmon strongholds left on the planet. Its 60,000 miles of coastline and tens of thousands of rivers, streams, and lakes sustain Alaska’s world class salmon runs, and abundant wildlife including bears, moose, caribou, and eagles. Alaska communities are also dependent on salmon for commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries. Only 1% of Alaska is permanently altered by human activity, which presents a unique opportunity to balance development and the state’s economic growth with the conservation of strong wild salmon populations upon which so many Alaskans rely.
Wild Salmon Center works with local partners to ensure that the state takes a fish-friendly approach to growth. We raise the profile of commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries and their importance to the economy and communities. And where Alaskans decide that certain rivers and regions need permanent protection, we support those efforts.
Heading off big threats
Wild Salmon Center and partners also work to head off large scale threats to on Alaska’s salmon resources. These threats include intensive resource extraction—open pit mining, oil and gas exploration and development, dam building and timber harvest—in environmentally sensitive areas and fragile wild salmon ecosystems (think: Susitna Dam, Chuitna Coal Mine, in addition to Pebble Mine).
One of the greatest threats to Alaskan salmon is the proposed Pebble Mine at the headwaters of the Nushagak and Kvichak rivers in the Bristol Bay region – the most productive salmon ecosystem in the world. If constructed, Pebble would be the world’s second largest open pit copper/gold/molybdenum mine and include the world’s largest earthen dam to hold back 10 billion tons of toxic tailings and contaminated water. View the report detailing the Pebble Mine’s potential risks and learn more about our Bristol Bay campaign.
From its glacial origins near Denali and the Alaska Range, the Susitna flows over 300 miles to Cook Inlet. It sustains ﬁve species of Pacific salmon — including Alaska’s fourth largest run of Chinook. The state is proposing to build the second tallest dam in the United States on the Susitna, which would flood prime hunting and recreation wilderness near Denali National Park and threaten the Susitna’s strong salmon runs.
In June 2016, Gov. Bill Walker announced that he was suspending the dam project, due to state budget shortfalls.
In the quest for permanent protection for this classic Alaskan salmon river, Wild Salmon Center continues to support the Susitna River Coalition. Learn more about our Susitna campaign.
Educating the next generation of Alaskans
Alaska communities have a strong connection to salmon, but the state lacks educational programs that holistically teach young people about the ecological, economic, and social importance of wild salmon.
WSC is partnering with the Prince William Sound Science Center and Copper River Watershed Project to create a salmon education curriculum for grades 4 through 6. The project will integrate with Alaska and federal education standards to provide an interdisciplinary school curriculum. Pending a successful pilot program, WSC and the science center intend to offer the curriculum to communities throughout Alaska.