Valentine for Bristol Bay- Jewelers oppose Pebble Mine

Here is a tough question: How do you get a sportsman, a mans man to write a valentines day themed blog post? How do you motivate someone who is much more interested in talking about fishing for Pink Salmon than pink hearts and recipe’s for stuffed duck breast rather than cute stuffed teddy bears. The answer is easy, somehow relate the blog post to the threat Alaska’s Bristol Bay faces from Pebble mine. So here goes:

Photo by Nic Callero

A few months ago I asked one of the most important questions I have asked to date, which was for my girlfriend Megan’s hand in marriage. Many important decisions were made and internal conversations resolved leading to the one simple question of “will you marry me?”

When should I ask? Where should I ask..?  Should I talk to her father first?…what if she says no?….How the hell do I even know what size ring to get?

Despite this seemingly unending stream of internal dialogue, there was one question I did know the answer to. The ring I purchased had to be special, and it had to be special in two ways. First, Megan had to love it plain and simple. Second, the ring had to be from a Jeweler that has pledged their opposition to Bristol Bay’s proposed Pebble mine.

Photo by Nic Callero

As lifelong Oregonians, avid backcountry campers and myself a bona fide salmon fishing addict, untouched places like Bristol Bay have a very special place in both of our hearts. Oregon has very few of these unspoiled treasures left, Alaska has many and Bristol Bay may be the crown jewel. I have had the pleasure of traveling to Alaska many times fishing throughout the state and exploring some of these untouched wonders. I have spoken with Alaskans and Oregonians whose jobs and livelihoods depend on the health of the Bristol Bay fishery, many of them are my friends. This is why supporting a jeweler who recognizes that Pebble mine is the wrong mine in the wrong place was so important- for both of us.


Photographer Michael Melford captures the essence of Bristol Bay

Over the past few years, dozens of jewelry companies have pledged to boycott any gold sourced from the pending Pebble mine. The pledge recognizes that Alaska’s Bristol Bay Watershed is an ecosystem of national and international significance, supporting the world’s largest wild salmon fishery. The Pledge also points out the Pebble Mine proposal would jeopardize the salmon fishery and the businesses and native communities it supports.  It is very hard to argue this point as Pebble mine would:

  • Be the largest open pit mine in North America, up to two miles wide destroying over 60 miles of prime salmon spawning habitat.
  • Require massive earthen dams 700 feet tall to contain 10 billion tons of toxic mine waste.
  • Be located in an unstable seismic zone prone to frequent earthquakes.
  • Require nearly 35 billion gallons of water a year, critically reducing flow to multiple salmon rivers.

The Jeweler I decided on was a local Ben Bridge store here in Portland, Oregon. When I purchased the ring I made a point to tell every single employee in the store that their opposition to the Pebble mine was the reason they were getting my business, I was even able to leave a note for the owner. A small but symbolic step to spread the word about the threat Pebble mine poses to Bristol Bay, one of the planet’s remaining untouched wonders.

Oh, and most important my now fiancé Megan said Yes. My next tough question will be trying to convince her to take our honeymoon to Bristol Bay’s Nushagak River to fish for salmon.

Take ActionUrge federal agencies to protect the wildlife of Bristol Bay against toxic mining. You can also “like” Stop Mining Pollution on Facebook and follow @NWFSalmon on Twitter for important updates.