We had a strong turnout last week at the Silverbow Inn for an event aimed at spreading the word about the threat to Alaska fisheries and tourism from the proposed KSM mine in British Columbia. More than 70 people showed up to hear about the mine project, located in the Unuk River headwaters. The Unuk is one of Southeast Alaska’s largest king salmon producers and it drains into Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan, a popular spot for ecotourism. KSM has the potential to pollute the Unuk with acid mine drainage, a toxic byproduct of sulfide mining which, if released into the ground or surface water, kills fish and wildlife.
Read news coverage about the event and take a look at an op-ed by a local fisherman.
Speakers at the event included Juneau seiner Bruce Wallace, past president of United Fishermen of Alaska, a powerful trade group representing 36 commercial fishing organizations. Wallace noted that KSM is just one of nearly a dozen mines planned for northwest B.C., which borders Southeast Alaska.
“I’ve never seen anything like this. The sheer scope of the mineral development planned for the transboundary region is staggering. I feel somewhat at a loss for how to meet these proposals head-on but we have to start somewhere,” Wallace said.
“We currently have very little recourse if something goes wrong. The existing treaties between the U.S. and Canada don’t really give us a way to productively engage in a dialogue about this,” he said.
Canada’s public comment period on KSM closed on Oct. 21. Thank you to the more than 250 individuals and groups that took the time to weigh in with their concerns about the project.
With the comment period over, we will be asking Alaska’s congressional delegation to weigh on this with the U.S. State Department to ensure that Alaska’s interests are protected. Stayed tuned for more details on what you can do.