Category Archives: Featured Content

Salmon Slime Makes For Useful Counting Tool

Kenai River sockeye photo by Kentaro Yasui/Oregon State University

The following is courtesy of Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Siences: 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scientists have published a novel method for counting Pacific salmon – analyzing DNA from the slime the fish leave behind in their spawning streams.

The study, funded by The National Geographic Society, is published in the journal Molecular Ecology Resources.

“When we analyzed the environmental DNA sloughed into water from salmon tissues including mucus and skin cells, we got very accurate counts,” said Taal Levi, an ecologist at Oregon State University and lead author on the study. “This is a major first step for more informed salmon management decisions because it opens up the possibility to affordably monitor many more streams than the few that are currently monitored.”

Pacific salmon are a keystone resource in the Pacific Northwest, with an economic impact of well over $500 million each year in Alaska alone. Currently, spawning salmon are counted at just a few streams due to the reliance on human counters, or in rare cases, sonar. Five species of Pacific salmon – pink, chum, sockeye, coho, and chinook – are distributed through more than 6,000 streams in southeast Alaska alone. More than 1,000 of those streams host spawning salmon.

Salmon are anadromous: They migrate from home streams to the ocean as juveniles, and return a few years later as adults to spawn. Anadromous fish such as salmon provide a straightforward scenario for testing whether environmental DNA (eDNA) can be used to count fish, because large numbers of salmon release their DNA as they pass a fixed sampling point, either as they swim up a river or stream as inbound adults or swim downstream as outbound juveniles.

In many rivers and streams, including the majority of freshwater systems in Alaska, adult salmon returning to spawn are poorly monitored, as are fry and smolt production resulting from spawning salmon.

For the study, researchers collected water samples in 2015 and 2016 near the Auke Creek research weir, nearly 16 kilometers north of Juneau. Weirs consist of a series of closely spaced bars across an entire stream to prevent the passage of salmon, except through a single, narrow gate over which a human observer tallies and identifies salmon as they file through.

The Auke Creek weir, cooperatively operated by the National Marine Fisheries Service, in collaboration with the University of Alaska and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is known as one of the most accurate fish counters in the world, Levi said.

From those samples they passed 1 liter of water through simple filters to collect DNA floating in the water, and then quantified the amount of sockeye and coho salmon DNA present on each filter at Levi’s OSU lab. Because the concentration of eDNA in stream water results from both the amount of DNA shed by fish and the flow of water, the product of eDNA concentration and streamflow can be used to calculate absolute quantities of eDNA, Levi said.

Once they amplified the eDNA, the researchers compared those figures with the daily census of sockeye and coho salmon carried out at the Auke Creek research weir, to determine whether the eDNA accurately predicted the number and species of fish that passed through the weir.

“We take extracted DNA and we quantify the amount of DNA that belongs to coho salmon or sockeye salmon. The counts derived from eDNA were remarkably similar both for returning adult salmon and out-migrating juveniles” Levi said.

“Using just one variable – stream flow – combined with the amount of DNA that derived from coho and sockeye salmon – our statistical model did a good job of predicting all the peaks of eDNA, giving us an idea of when, and how many, fish passed through,” Levi said. “Now we can get a lot of information from many streams. Having a lot of information that isn’t 100 percent accurate may be better for management decisions than having really accurate counts for only four of 6,000 streams, particularly since we have very little data from anywhere on the number of out-migrating juveniles produced by each salmon stream.”

Using eDNA to count salmon could help agencies save money. The annual cost of a weir is approximately $80,000, not including installation or major maintenance. The cost of each water sample analysis, as used in this research, is $35.

This spring, the researchers plan to test OSU-developed automatic water samplers in a dozen streams in southeastern Alaska.

Levi is an assistant professor in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Chunyan Yang of the Kunming Institute of Zoology Chinese Academy of Sciences was a co-corresponding author on the study.

The research team also included Jennifer Allen, a faculty research assistant in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State; Donovan Bell, John Joyce, Joshua Russell and Scott Vulstek of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Auke Bay Laboratories; David Tallmon, of the University of Alaska Southeast; and Douglas Yu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of East Anglia.

Some Favorite Stories Of 2018

 

Here are snippets from some of our favorite stories of 2018:

Photo by Reese Brown/Snowsports Industries America

JANUARY: FOR THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE  

“There is so much honor and excitement pulling on the Team USA uniform. It is so much more than I ever dreamed. I love how suddenly, you become teammates with your entire country.” -Alaska transplant, outdoorswoman and PyeongChang Winter Olympian cross-country skier Sadie Bjornsen.

(PAUL D. ATKINS)

FEBRUARY: BE CAREFUL IN ALASKA

“Would I trade these experiences for not? No, I wouldn’t, they are part of who I am and if not for them I wouldn’t have learned the things I needed to know in order to survive here in the Arctic. I still don’t know everything and even if I did you never know what lies around the next corner or through the trees or down the river.” -correspondent Paul Atkins on Arctic mishaps in the field.

(SCOTT HAUGEN)

MARCH: WATERFOWLING NIRVANA  

“But it was the undulating strings of black brant – flock after flock spread across miles of water – that we all yearned to see. And see it we did. Thousands of brant were observed on every hunt, which meant that filling limits was not difficult.” -Field to Fire columnist Scott Haugen on hunting Izembek Lagoon.

(DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

APRIL: SHEDDING CLOTHES FOR THE CAUSE  

“Emotionally, I think I was definitely up to the challenge, just because I have these good survival skills already. And to be able to take them on the show and be able to use them, that was very cool.” -Anchorage resident and Army National Guard veteran LeAnn Duncan on appearing on Discovery Channel’s survival show Naked and Afraid.

(TONY ENSALACO)

MAY: STEELHEAD ANGLERS ARE A RARE BREED  

“In reality, there are no rules set in stone when it comes to steelheading; just some general guidelines that are a good starting point. Until people discover a way to communicate with the fish, opinions will be purely based on speculation, which gives anglers the chance to participate in some spirited debates.” -Writer Tony Ensalaco on his fishing passion for steelies.

JUNE: HAVE A PASSION FOR SALMON  

“She took off downstream and I had to follow, but after a brave struggle, she beached herself at my feet. She then began to writhe and roll with tremendous power, fouling my leader and bending my fly into a useless piece of wire.” -Excerpt from David Zoby’s book, Fish Like You Mean It.

Photo by Paul D. Atkins

JULY: FAMILY TIME MATTERS

“Getting your kids outside and experiencing the great outdoors with what Alaska has to offer, no matter where you live in the state, is priceless. Time flies, so do it now and as much as possible, because before you know it they’ll be out the door to college or a career and doing their own thing.” -Atkins on the sentimental takeaways from a fishing trip with his son Eli

(BIXLER MCCLURE)

AUGUST: TAKE FLIGHT IN ALASKA

“We now spend every nice day in the air since we bought an almost identical Cessna 172 from a friend of ours. My landings are near perfect and the Kenai Peninsula’s collection of short, gravel runways make for an excellent introduction into bush flying.” -Correspondent Krystin McClure on learning to fly along with her husband, Bixler.

(JEFF LUND)

SEPTEMBER: KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE

“Trust is at the core of the hunting buddy. Trust first that the buddy is in shape enough mentally and physically to execute the hunt. I know that the dudes I hunt with can keep it together because they have proven to take it seriously.” -Jeff Lund on the importance of who you’re hunting with.

(GARY MORRIS)

OCTOBER: THIS STATE IS TRULY THE WILD

“I’ve always said that what Alaska offers is, there are a million ways to live and a million ways to die, and they’re all in Alaska.” -Country music singer Gary Morris, who’s fished and hunted in the Last Frontier often.

(LARRY HATTER)

NOVEMBER: BEARS CAN SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOU

“Once more I mustered what saliva my suddenly parched mouth possessed and with every last bit of breath belted out, “Grizzly!” This time my cry rang out like a beacon and froze both men and bear in their tracks – no more than 30 yards apart.” -Idaho sportsman Larry Hatter on a terrifying bear encounter while hunting caribou on the North Slope.

(BERKLEY BEDELL/USFWS)

DECEMBER: LAND WORTH PROTECTING

“We love these places for the opportunities they provide us. But I think what’s really important to remember is that what we have in Alaska is very unique, not only in the U.S. but globally.” -Kenai National National Wildlife Refuge manager Andy Loranger on the importance of protected public land and what they offer.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Here Are Your 2018 Quotes Of The Year In ASJ

“The Alaska experience was always something that I guess I yearned for. And I’ve never had a time where I felt like I had enough. I love the wild, and it’s the wildest place, certainly in America.”

 

Happy New Year! Here at Alaska Sporting Journal we hope your 2019 is happy, prosperous and all your resolutions come through – or, as happens to me every year – are followed through the best you can.

But I always like to look back at what we did in 2018, so here are my favorite quotes from our stories for the year:

Photos cortesy of Sadie Bjornsen

“The outdoors has always been a way to see the world from new eyes. It has provided me with the opportunity to travel all over the world, and it has provided me with an opportunity to meet some pretty incredible people. When you walk outdoors, and breathe in the fresh air, it is the most natural form of medicine! Suddenly, all the problems of the world can be put aside, and you can find true happiness!”

-U.S. Olympic Team cross-country skier and transplanted Alaskan Sadie Bjornsen (January issue)

Photos courtesy of Sub7

Sub7

“You can have the most peaceful moments in your life sitting atop a mountain, and then in 15 minutes have the most horrific experience as you’re going down that mountain. And that terrain can absolutely beat you up. It will just take you before you know it. So many obstacles that just make you truly appreciate how that moment of beauty can turn to something ugly.”
“In everything else that we do, for the most part, you feel like you have a sense of control a little bit and a sense of security, I think, to some degree. In Alaska all that goes away. You know that you are not necessarily at the top of the food chain in where you’re at and what you’re doing.”

-Country music performer Craig Morgan, who owns a trapping cabin in the Alaskan Interior (February)

Photos by the Discovery Channel.

“It is quite an adventure. You know that Alaska is on the bucket list for about 20 million people. And the reason is it’s not just because of the resources and everything, but it’s because of the scenery. And I’m going to tell you what: We are absolutely working right smack in the middle of some of the best scenery that you can ever imagine in Alaska. And it’s breathtaking.”

-“Dakota” Fred Hurt of Discovery Channel series Gold Rush: White Water, on mining the treacherous waters of McKinley Creek (February)

 

Photo by LeAnn Duncan

Photo by Discovery Channel

“Alaska is my home and this is pretty much where I’m going to die. People ask me, “Where do you want to go?” And I say that I want to go to a cabin in the woods in Alaska. There are so many things to see and do here. My biggest adventures are at home and I love that about Alaska.”

-Anchorage accountant and outdoorswoman LeAnn Duncan, who shed her clothes and braved the oppressive sun, bugs and hurricane-ravaged landscape of Nicaragua on Disccovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid (April)

Photo courtesy of Keith Colburn (right)

Photo by Discovery Channel

“So the question wasn’t, ‘Why did you go to Alaska?’ The question was, ‘Why did you go back?’” 
“But the very first time we set sail out of Kodiak going to Togiak for the herring in early April, we were on watch. It was a beautiful night and we’re going through the islands, and I’m over on the port side of the wheelhouse and the captain comes over and goes, ‘Yeah; you’re hooked.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You’ve got the look.’ I was literally hooked immediately and just fell in love with being on the water.”

Deadliest Catch crabbing skipper Keith Colburn, who had a rough introduction to Alaska when he embarked on his commercial fishing career (May)

Photo by Greg Ruggerone

“It’s not that they’re beating up on sockeye salmon or Chinook salmon. They’re just so abundant and growing up so rapidly, they have to eat lots of food. They scarf up a lot of the food like the zooplankton.”

“They may be the a bit lower on the trophic food chain compared to say Chinook salmon, but they impact Chinook in two different ways; one being simply that pinks are feeding on zooplankton, the building block for all squid and forage fishes that Chinook like to eat. And then as the pinks get older in their second year in the ocean, we see more diet overlap with species like Chinook.”

-Dr. Greg Ruggerone, who has studied the impact of pink salmon populations on other Pacific salmon species (September)

Photos courtesy of Gary Morris

“I love it. You know, if it didn’t have a summer with no night and a winter with no day, then I’d move there.”

“The Alaska experience was always something that I guess I yearned for. And I’ve never had a time where I felt like I had enough. I love the wild, and it’s the wildest place, certainly in America.”

-Entertainer Gary Morris, who regularly fishes and hunts in the Last Frontier (October)

Biologist Bill Leacock has studied bears for the last 22 years, including his time at Kodiak. (LISA HUPP/USFWS)

(TIP (MOON) LEACOCK)

“Bill does have this special talent and has a very calming presence. I’ve been lucky enough to go up salmon streams with Bill before and he truly is a bear whisperer. A person like myself would never just walk quietly up a bear stream yelling, ‘Hey bear! Hey bear!’”
“But you’d probably never go to some of the areas that Bill goes to because of the concentration of bears. But Bill is very calm and I’ve gone up to (the O’Malley River bear viewing area) with him before, and it’s just an amazing experience. He has a lot of respect for the bears and he knows what he can and cannot do. It’s not something that you can do on your own.”

-Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge manager Mike Brady on the refuge’s lead bear biologist Bill Leacock, featured on the Animal Planet series Into Alaska (December)

Hagfish Getting Some Alaska Love

User Lmozero/Wikimedia

Utter the words “Alaska seafood” and it’s not likely hagfisn will not be one of the first words out of someone’s mouth. Yet as an Anchorage Daily News report suggests, there is a financial gain to be made from these slimy sea creatures and Alaska is trying to take advantage.

First, here’s a little bit about hagfish from the Smithsonian Channel:

The commercial fishing industry in Southeast Alaska is beginning to take notice of the demand for these strange undersea residents and making a business out of hagfish. Here’s the ADN’s Annie Zak: 

This isn’t the first time Alaskans have tried to ignite a hagfish fishery. There was also an effort made in the 1990s, said Andrew Olson, the Southeast Alaska groundfish project leader at Fish and Game. Hagfish fisheries in Korea and Japan collapsed in the 1980s and 90s and then the fishery took off along the West Coast, in waters off Washington, Oregon and California, according to Fish and Game.

“In Southeast (Alaska), it just didn’t work out,” Olson said. …

Korea is the main market for slime eels, Baldwin said. The meat is sold there for food and the skin used for leather. The slime is even used as an egg substitute.

“If you’ve ever seen eel skin products, it’s all hagfish,” Baldwin said. He’s even seen hagfish couches.

 

What A Hunter Has Learned As The Year Winds Down

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Why not celebrate your holiday season by remembering what you’ve learned out in the field. Check out this story from our correspondent Jeff Lund:

What I’ve learned 1
If you get out and hunt enough times over a year’s worth of seasons, you’re bound to learn something. Correspondent Jeff Lund shared what will make him a better (or at least more knowledgeable) hunter in the future. Here, Cody Lee prepares to take a shot at a deer during inclement weather. (JEFF LUND)

BY JEFF LUND

Yesterday, Facebook told me that last year at this time I was catching salmon on my fly rod and that my buddy Zack caught a steelhead.

I haven’t been fly fishing in almost three months and Facebook has repeatedly reminded me of how I’ve allowed hunting to supplant fishing as the way I spend most of my hours afield. What a difference a year makes.

I have been so distracted by hunting that it hasn’t even really occurred to me to fish. It’s not that I don’t like fishing or don’t want to fish anymore, but in my effort to go cow free, I can’t get enough of being out looking for bucks.

The more time I’ve spent hunting, the more I’ve learned, and for a dude who has only been hunting for six seasons, I have a long way to go.

With that in mind, here’s what I’ve learned so far in 2018 – stuff I’m not ashamed to admit, because most growth is stunted because people don’t want to admit they don’t know stuff. Especially hunters and anglers. We’re a stubborn breed.

SOMETIMES, STAY SILENT

It sounded like a doe in distress was charging through the woods. Seriously. I was terrified. The tone was frantic, unrelenting (a short call every two seconds) and covering ground. I don’t know what this dude was trying to do. I sat still and heard a deer crashing through the brush away from the call. It made me wonder if a call can have an opposite effect in areas of high traffic.

The following week I went there, I sat and didn’t call. I wanted to see what would happen if I was quiet and patient, letting deer run their usual program. Boom. Three-by-three.

It could have been luck, but since I know the spot had seen heavy traffic and the deer were being called too heavily, I decided to refrain and ended up with meat for the freezer. You can’t just blow a call and expect deer to come running. Volume, tone and frequency are so important.

Author Jeff Lund writes, ” most growth is stunted because people don’t want to admit they don’t know stuff. Especially hunters and anglers. We’re a stubborn breed.” (JEFF LUND)

FREEZING GAME MEAT

I used to freeze backstrap presliced, which was stupid because more surface of the meat was exposed to cold. Dumb. This year I cut each backstrap into thirds and froze them. I know this is a no-brainer to many – something that would go without saying – but I’m not very smart.

I also learned that this went incredibly well with an avocado Dijon dressing.

GEAR BREAKS, RIPS

This is also a no-brainer, but I realized the importance of making sure what I was wearing matched the intended surroundings. In the spring I rolled a black bear up away from the tide, knees scraping against barnacled rocks, but my new First Lite merino/nylon pants were unscathed.

It was a great test to the durability of a quality product. I was walking around in the alpine in the same pants this past August and caught a leg on a broken buckbrush branch. My leg was going forward, so I had no way of stopping in time. It caught the cloth and tore.

Try to slide down shale and your Gore-Tex pants will likely rip. Make twisting cuts with a replaceable Havalon knife blade and it will likely break. Walk through the tangled brush of Southeast Alaskan alpine in merino pants and they might tear. It happens.

PLAY THE WEATHER

After hot temperatures on opening day and the next, and no buck sightings even pre-dawn, a buddy of mine from California and I decided to get off the mountain, regroup and head back up during the rain that was forecast. We started up in the rain and got probably half an hour from hypothermia, but we wanted to get on top of the mountain as the weather broke.

Not that afternoon, or the next morning. We wanted to be there when the storm died. We were, it did, and the deer popped. It worked out perfectly. We hiked up in the rain, which meant we were wet on the outside and slick with sweat on the inside.

It was miserable. We dumped our camping stuff and stayed in the same clothes because we didn’t want to change into dry stuff in the rain. So we completed the 200 feet of elevation gain with light packs and dripping gear. The rain stopped and we glassed into a bowl, becoming colder and colder thanks to our lack of movement. Within 20 minutes of the rain stopping, deer emerged. Cody waited for the wind to die to take a 280-yard shot at a feeding three-by-three.

I worked my way around the ridge to the opposite side of the bowl to intercept a stud fork that I thought might feed over.

We got them both.

PLAY THE WEATHER, PART II

August is alpine season. Late October is the start of rut. Between is a dormant period of bucks in timber not willing to move. That’s what I thought. The vegetation on mountaintops looked like it was close to dead, and who likes to eat a brown salad? But the weather still felt like August.

I went into the alpine in mid-September and had a doe bust me when I had three bucks at 40 yards. I started asking around. A buddy of mine got a buck at the tree line halfway up a mountain in mid-October a few years ago. He got a buck with a bow on top of a mountain in mid-September this year.

A student of mine reported bucks in the alpine well into the “dormant period” I thought had started when August ended. Maybe it was just this year, or maybe I had to pay more attention to the weather than the calendar. ASJ

Editor’s note: Jeff Lund is a freelance writer from Ketchikan. His podcast The Mediocre Alaskan chronicles his struggle to be a better Alaskan. It is available on iTunes and Soundcloud. His book, Going Home, a memoir about hunting and fishing in Alaska, is available from Amazon.

 

Fish Can’t Be Retained At Several Soldotna-Area Lakes

The following press releases are courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

(Soldotna) – Sport fishing will be permitted at East and West Mackey, Sevena, Union, and Derks lakes; however, the retention of all species of fish is prohibited at these lakes.

These restrictions will be in effect from 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, January 1 through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, 2019.

From 2014-2017, East and West Mackey, Sevena, Union, and Derks lakes were successfully treated with rotenone to eradicate nonnative northern pike. During 2015-2017, Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff captured and transported approximately 92,000 native fish from Soldotna Creek to these lakes to aid in the restoration of the native fish populations. Continued restrictions from 2018 through 2019 are needed to protect these native fish until the population is established.

 

Eastside Cook Inlet Beaches Remain Closed to Sport Clamming

All eastside Cook Inlet beaches will remain closed to personal use and sport clamming in 2019 since any razor clam harvest will likely delay recovery of the population. These closures prohibit the taking of any clam species from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit. The closure is effective at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, January 1, 2019 and will be in effect for the remainder of the year.

From 2009-2015, eastside Cook Inlet razor clams experienced poor recruitment of juvenile sized razor clams and a high natural mortality rate of mature sized razor clams, which both resulted in a significant decline in abundance leading to the closure of the fishery.

Causes of the decline in razor clam abundance remains unknown but may include a combination of heavy surf, habitat changes, environmental stressors and predation. Eastside razor clam populations are beginning to rebuild, but uncertainties remain if it will continue into 2019. Razor clam abundance surveys are scheduled for the spring of 2019 on Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches to assess abundance of juvenile and mature sized razor clams, recruitment to the beach and mature size, annual growth, natural mortality, and potential harvest opportunity.

This closure does not affect recreational razor clam regulations on westside Cook Inlet beaches. If you have any questions, please contact the ADF&G Homer Office at (907) 235-8191.

 

Salmon Conservationists Will Keep Fighting In 2019 After Ballot Measure Loss

So many Alaskans have come together to stop mining and other projects that threaten salmon habitat. Trout Unlimited’s Alaska chapter reminds to continue fighting for salmon conservation. (NATHANIEL WILDER)

The following appears in the December issue of Alaska Sporting Journal: 

BY JENNY WEIS 

As Alaska anglers begin to move past the divisive political season and return to reminiscing about our best catches of the 2018 season and counting down the days until 2019’s first Chinook begin their migration, some might be wondering how the results of Alaska’s midterm election changes our ability to protect Bristol Bay and the places around Alaska that we love to hunt and fish.

In some ways, little has changed when it comes to issues such as the proposed Pebble Mine, and we know these matters have always transcended party lines and will continue to. 

Despite the massive, volunteer-driven effort of thousands of Alaska fishermen, tribal and fisheries groups, and businesses, Ballot Measure 1, which would have strengthened current law to protect wild salmon habitat statewide and provide a higher standard that projects like Pebble Mine would have to meet, failed to get the votes that were needed to be put into law. Because the ballot measure did not pass, Alaska’s primary law intended to protect salmon habitat remains intact, and weak, as currently written.

That said, Alaska elected a new governor, Mike Dunleavy, who will need to hear from anglers and hunters to ensure when the doors of Alaska are swung “open for business,” it includes keeping our fisheries thriving and our public lands in good shape. 

Hunters and anglers need to remind the incoming administration that our rivers and public lands support growing fishing, tourism and recreation industries, and that one industry should not compromise the health of another – Pebble Mine being the number one example.

The silver lining for the failed ballot measure? In speaking with thousands of Alaskans during the years of hard work and dedication that preceded the election, one thing became and remains crystal clear: Alaskans agree protections for wild salmon are needed and that many, many people do not want to see Pebble Mine developed. 

“Alaskan anglers and outdoor enthusiasts from around the country have done a lot for Alaska’s fisheries,” Trout Unlimited’s Jenny Weis writes. “We continue to hold the power of shaping a fish-filled future for Bristol Bay and Alaska.” (BRIAN O’KEEFE; FLY-OUT MEDIA)

While we learned during the election that the ballot measure wasn’t what Alaskans wanted, we also learned in the process with respect to our salmon we have more in common than we differ.

In the case of protecting the Bristol Bay fishery from the massive threat of the Pebble Mine, the fight is far from over. The path to protecting this region is multi-faceted and there are many opportunities in the year ahead to help stop Pebble from becoming a reality.

Alaska anglers and outdoor enthusiasts from around the country have done a lot for Alaska’s fisheries – the best example being that there isn’t a massive hole in the ground at the headwaters of the world’s greatest sockeye salmon fishery! We continue to hold the power of shaping a fish-filled future for Bristol Bay and Alaska. This is true regardless of who is in office.

Trout Unlimited and our network of supporters will continue to work diligently to stop the proposed Pebble Mine, strengthen protections for critical fishing areas and ensure the rivers and places that Alaskans love to fish continue to thrive for generations to come. 

You can sign the pledge to protect Bristol Bay at SaveBristolBay.org. You can also follow Trout Unlimited Alaska at facebook.com/TUAlaska/ for the latest news and ways to help. ASJ

 Editor’s note: Jenny Weis is the communications and digital advocacy specialist for Trout Unlimited’s Alaska program. Go to tu.org/tu-programs/alaska for more info.

Pebble Mine Opponents Gearing Up For Next Round In Fight

Several Businesses for Bristol Bay partners presented at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle on November 19th. (BUSINESSES FOR BRISTOL BAY)

The following press release is courtesy of Businesses For Bristol Bay:

One year ago the Pebble Limited Partnership filed its permit application with the Army Corps of Engineers.  Today, just 12 months later, the Army Corps is preparing to release Pebble’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and begin its public comment period in January with a final decision in early 2020 – faster than any other large mine in Alaska.  Based on the Army Corps’ rushed and politically-driven timeline, 2019 will be the year to stop the Pebble Mine. 

YEAR IN REVIEW
In 2018, Bristol Bay’s business community played a lead role in urging the Army Corps to slow down and conduct a fair and science-based review.  Thanks to your leadership, Businesses for Bristol Bay and its partners were able to accomplish the following this year:

These efforts have been critical in helping us get the attention of decision-makers who can hold the Army Corps accountable and stop Pebble’s irresponsible and risky mine plan from moving forward.  Thank you!

WHAT’S AHEAD
It’s going to take tremendous and constant pressure in 2019 to stop the Army Corps from approving Pebble’s permit.  Businesses for Bristol Bay will continue to ensure that Bristol Bay’s business community is heard by decision-makers.  It’s your voices that will help stop the Pebble Mine in 2019. 
Some of the ways that you and your business can weigh in over the coming months:

  • Comments to the Army Corps in early 2019; our science and technical experts can provide detailed information for your company to include
  • Letters to Congress; we can provide draft letters tailored to your business
  • Meetings with decision-makers in Washington D.C.; we can work with your team to schedule
  • Earned/Paid media in regional and national outlets; we can provide content and images

HOW YOU CAN HELP TODAY
Our work would not be possible without your support.  Please contact us if your company would like tomake a tax-deductible contribution to Businesses for Bristol Bay and become a direct partner in our work.  We also welcome and appreciate any in-kind donations (e.g., free advertising, special edition products, professional services). Your generous support will allow us to carry your message to elected officials who can make a real difference and help protect your company’s bottom line.

Wishing you and yours the very best this holiday season.
Rest up, 2019 is going to be busy!

ADFG Announces Staff Changes

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game: 

Anchorage) — Acting Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) Commissioner Douglas Vincent-Lang announced three key staff appointments.

Vincent-Lang has appointed Benjamin J. Mulligan Deputy Commissioner effective Jan. 3. Also appointed are Edward K. Grasser Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation effective Dec. 26 and Rick Green Special Assistant to the Commissioner who began work on Dec. 17.

“These are talented individuals who will play integral roles as the department renews its focus on putting food on the plates of Alaskans, protecting and maintaining the state’s management authority, building dialogue and trust, and ensuring that the department is contributing to the economy and well-being of our citizens,” said Vincent-Lang.

As deputy commissioner, Mulligan will be responsible for overseeing statewide fisheries and wildlife regulatory and management issues. He will also act as chief of staff to the commissioner.

Mulligan brings to his new role a long, successful history in the business community, working closely with lawmakers and on fisheries-related issues. He acted as special assistant and legislative liaison for ADF&G from 2010 to 2015 before joining the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce where he currently serves as vice-president. Prior to his five years at the department, he worked for Rep. Bill Stoltze in a variety of positions including chief of staff. He earned his B.S. in biology with a fisheries emphasis from the University of Wyoming.

“I have appreciated the complexity and importance of fish and wildlife issues in Alaska since I started work at my first fisheries technician job in Bristol Bay,” said Mulligan. “The department is full of Alaskans who love their jobs and the resource they help manage. I look forward to working on those issues with them once again on behalf of the commissioner and all Alaskans.”

Rick Green, who is perhaps best known as top-rated radio talk show host Rick Rydell, will be charged with outreach to user groups as special assistant to the commissioner.

Green will work closely with the state’s hunters and fishers to improve communication and build trust. Green has hosted the popular Rick Rydell radio show focused on local and statewide politics since 2001. An accomplished outdoorsman, Green has written two books. He is a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association, a member of the Outdoor Council and a former hunting and fishing guide. He served on the Fish and Game Advisory Council for three years.

“Fish and Game in Alaska has always been my passion,” said Green. “I’m thrilled to work under Gov. Dunleavy and Commissioner Vincent-Lang to work to restore trust in the department, build communication and serve the public.”

Incoming director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation Edward K. Grasser has worked on issues and activities related to wildlife and wildlife conservation for more than 50 years. He spent five years as chief of staff for the Alaska State Legislature House Resources Committee before opening Grassroots Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in natural resources advocacy work. Grasser has been vice-president of Safari Club International since 2013. He has played active roles with the Alaska Outdoor Council, the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Federation and other outdoor groups. In addition to his long history advocating for wildlife conservation, Grasser acted as special assistant to the commissioner of ADF&G from 2005 to 2006.

“I look forward to working with everyone and helping the division provide stronger conservation measures that will benefit all Alaskans,” said Grasser.

Dog Musher Suspended One Year

Musher Hugh Neff, a veteran of 13 Iditarod races, was suspended for one year after one of his dogs died during the 2017-18 Yukon Quest. Here’s KTUU TV with more:

Neff was banned from the 2018-19 Yukon Quest after his dog Boppy died on the trail during the 2017-18 race. The official cause of death was aspiration pneumonia, but Quest race officials say a necropsy of the dog raised health concerns.

The Two Rivers Dog Musher’s Association made a statement on Facebook that can be found here.