In this July 13, 2007, file photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)

In this July 13, 2007, file photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)

Proposed conservation plans could affect Pebble Mine

Agreement would restrict development.

By Becky Bohrer

Associated Press

An agreement announced Tuesday between an Alaska Native village corporation and conservationists would restrict development on lands in the Bristol Bay region where a mine developer has proposed a road, a move that could create another obstacle for the proposed Pebble Mine.

The Conservation Fund said it has launched a fundraising campaign to buy the land easements on more than 44,000 acres from the Pedro Bay Corp. for $18.3 million. Terms call for the money to be raised by the end of 2022, said Ann Simonelli, a spokesperson for the Virginia-based conservation group.

The corporation would retain ownership of the land, and the easements would be managed by the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, a group focused on preserving salmon and wildlife habitat in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. According to a statement announcing the agreement, terms of the deal would bar the execution of any right-of-way agreements with the mine project due to the easements’ restrictions on development. The planned easements cover part of a transportation route proposed by the Pebble Mine, the statement says.

Mike Heatwole, a spokesperson for the Pebble Limited Partnership, which seeks to develop the mine, said Pebble’s focus is on a pending appeal with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“This recent development hasn’t really changed that focus in any way,” he said by email.

The corps last year denied approval of a key project permit. The corps division handling the appeal said a decision on whether it has merit could take more than a year.

Critics of the proposed copper and gold mine have said they want permanent measures implemented that would place the Bristol Bay region off limits to large-scale mining. Bristol Bay supports the world’s largest runs of sockeye salmon, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Matt McDaniel, Pedro Bay Corp. CEO, said the conservation agreement “supports the values of our community members by protecting their land, their subsistence and their traditional way of life.”

“This is an opportunity that will provide our community benefits and economic value in perpetuity,” he said in a statement.

Simonelli said The Conservation Fund and its partners are seeking to raise $20 million, which in addition to the easement purchases includes funding for easement stewardship and $500,000 to the nonprofit Pedro Bay Benefits Corp. for an educational and cultural fund for Pedro Bay shareholders.

Tim Troll, executive director of the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, said in weighing long-term salmon productivity, “you’ve got to look at landscape-level stuff.”

“So that’s why this deal is important,” he said.

The organizations also have worked together previously in the region.

A fishery doesn’t last as long as the Bristol Bay salmon fishery “if you don’t have the habitat to make that happen,” he said, adding later: “We’d be wanting to do this deal, regardless of a road.”

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Liana Wallace offers a water blessing during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool on Friday following nearly a year of renovations. The pool is scheduled to reopen for public use on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Ribbon-cutting for Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool a blessing for longtime users after 11-month renovation

Infrastructure upgrades, new locker rooms and student tile art in lobby greet visitors at ceremony.

The Alaska State Capitol in Juneau is seen on Friday, Feb. 23. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Legislature plans March 12 vote on Gov. Dunleavy’s executive orders

Order giving governor full control of Alaska Marine Highway Operations board among six scheduled.

Brenda Josephson, a Haines resident, testifies in favor of a bill setting statewide standards for municipal property assessors during a state Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Statewide standards for municipal property assessments sought in bill by Juneau lawmaker

Some residents say legislation doesn’t go far enough, want limits on annual valuation increases.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 26, 2004. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of March 2

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks Thursday, April 27, 2023, at a news conference in Juneau. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House considers constitutional guarantee for Permanent Fund dividend

The Alaska House of Representatives will vote as soon as Friday morning… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alexei Painter, director of Alaska’s Legislative Finance Division, presents an update of the state’s budget situation for the coming year to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Analysis: Balanced state budget next year can include a $1,535 PFD and $680 BSA increase

However, a “statutory” $3,688 PFD would result in a deficit of more than $1.2 billion, report says.

Most Read