In 2008, I made a trip to the Mulchatna River to fish with friends and see some of the country that would be forever changed by the Pebble Mine Project. I’ve never been back–although I’d give most anything to fish those waters again–but the place is always with me. The strange, snow-etched Jackrabbit Hills, with the weird calligraphy of a million caribou trails crossing them and fanning out on the flat tundra like poetry written in a language that only hunters remember.
Potholes aswarm with nesting waterfowl, and the deep prints of a grizzly way too close to the fish cleaning table. It’s all there in my mind, that land and the fish themselves, blood-red sockeye in cold green water, silvery kings thrashing in the shoals, the perfect dots on the side of an arctic char that look so much like tiny planets glowing in a twilight sky that it surely makes you wonder, really, how this world of ours came to be like this, and what it might mean, that a creature could be so beautiful. I carry those memories. I would never see the world quite the same way if I knew that place was gone, even if I never see it again myself.
If you are a Field & Stream reader, you know what is at stake here, north of Bristol Bay, in the heart of the burgeoning wilds, in the headwaters of our souls. The Environmental Protection Agency will be taking public comments on the Pebble Mine Project until July 23. Now is the time for those of us who know what is there, and for those of us who would one day like to see it as it is, in the perfection of its creation, to be heard. Even if you never plan to go there, every fisherman and hunter is tied to this place. Whatever string you tug, whatever fish you take in whatever river, the whitetail in your woodlot or local swamp or marsh, it is all part of the net that includes the mighty Mulchatna, the Koktuli River, the wind and tide and fury and life of Bristol Bay. We live in a democratic republic and the whole process depends on responsible citizens who are willing to speak out and participate. Be heard.