Positive Developments on Three Important Conservation Efforts
Under its Clean Water Act Section 404(c) authority, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a Final Determination limiting the disposal of dredged and fill material associated with developing the proposed Pebble Mine. The EPA decision prohibits the South Fork Koktuli River and North Fork Koktuli River watersheds as disposal sites for the discharge of dredged or fill material for the construction and routine operation of the mine plan described in Pebble Limited Partnership’s June 8, 2020, Clean Water Act Section 404 Permit application.
This development represents a major victory in the effort to protect the most productive wild salmon ecosystem in the world. Fly Fishers International has been an active collaborator alongside our many conservation partners in advocating for protections of Bristol Bay like this most recent action by the EPA.
Tom Logan, FFI Board Member and Conservation Committee Chair, on this recent EPA action:
“Fly Fishers International has worked with our many Conservation Partners for decades providing “public” and “technical comment” illustrating the undeniable threats the proposed Pebble Mine and other mining operations would impart on the Bristol Bay system and the world-class salmon fishery it supports. The Environmental Protection Agency is to be applauded for their “Final Determination” that is based upon “best available science” to establish permanent protection to the Bristol Bay Watershed. Protection of Bristol Bay in this manner serves as a global example of how important it is to preserve health and function of our natural landscapes for fish, wildlife, our own qualities of life and the planet!”
While this certainly represents a major win for FFI and our Conservation Partners, the month of January also brought good news in ongoing efforts to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and maintain the roadless rules in the Tongass National Forest.
On January 26th, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland signed Public Land Order 7917 withdrawing approximately 225,504 acres in the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota from disposition under the United States mineral and geothermal leasing laws for a 20-year period, subject to valid existing rights. This action will help protect the Rainy River watershed, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, from the potential adverse impacts of new mineral and geothermal exploration and development.
One day before, on January 25th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized protections for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. The USDA’s final rule repeals the 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule and restores longstanding roadless protections to 9.37 million acres of roadless areas that support the ecological, economic and cultural values of Southeastern Alaska.
Tom Logan on these important steps:
On the BWCAW:
“The US Forest Service is to be applauded for their decision to protect 225,504 acres of the Rainey River Headwaters from future mining of minerals. The decision is particularly significant when we consider the watershed nourishes more than 3 million acres of natural landscapes that comprise the iconic Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest. This natural area is rich with fish, wildlife and recreational opportunities that include fly fishing for our members. Perhaps more importantly it’s diverse plant communities will continue to do what plants do, which is to capture and store atmospheric carbons and use them in their chemical processing and respiration of oxygen and water vapor that is of critical importance to our own qualities of life.”
On the Tongass National Forest:
“Many of us will never have the opportunity to visit the Tongass National Forest that was established in 1907 by Theodore Roosevelt. Still, we appreciate it’s natural values and applaud the recent determination of the US Forest Service to designate more than 9 million acres of this world’s largest temperate rainforest as a “roadless area”. The area has been subject to decades of destructive logging and this important roadless designation will now protect this vast and biologically rich natural landscape from clear-cut logging of it’s old-growth forests. The decision serves as a global model for protection of natural landscapes that support fisheries, wildlife and plant communities that do what plants do; they capture and store carbon in their essential processing of oxygen and water vapor for all animal life. Protection of fish and wildlife habitat in this manner is good for the planet!”