© Ken Morrish
Where We Work

Alaska

Where We Work

Alaska

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.

Proactive Protection: Stand for Salmon

After more than a decade of grassroots campaigns to protect salmon in the face of damaging development (think: Susitna Dam, Chuitna Coal Mine, in addition to Pebble Mine)—Alaskans have joined together in the Stand for Salmon campaign to solve the root of the problem: the state’s lack of clear standards to guide development where it impacts fish habitat.

42,000 Alaskans from all walks of life put a state-driven, forward-thinking initiative on the statewide ballot for November 2018. Ballot Measure 1 creates clear, science-based standards to guide the permitting process, ensuring wild salmon are not sacrificed as the state continues to grow and develop.

The Stand for Salmon coalition of Alaskan citizens, tribal organizations, businesses and conservation groups, including Wild Salmon Center, are talking to Alaskans all across the state and spreading the word through a multitude of media outlets. Learn more about you can help get the word out about the Stand for Salmon campaign.

Bristol Bay

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 through Stand for Salmon, Wild Salmon Center continues to work with Alaskan partners to protect the Bristol Bay watershed from large-scale mining. Learn more about our Bristol Bay campaign.

Susitna River

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 continue support to 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.

© Ben Knight
Only 1% of Alaska is permanently altered by human activity.
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