Category Archives: Featured Content

Talking Hunting With Hillarie Putnam

Editor’s note: The following story is now available in the September issue of Alaska Sporting Journal 

Photos courtesy of Hillarie Putnam and the History Channel 
By Chris Cocoles
Sometimes, you’re just preordained to have an adventurous disposition.
You’re named for one of the men on the first team to reach the summit of mighty Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak; your dad was so in love with the outdoors he moved his family from the Midwest to the Last Frontier when you were a year old; you have no qualms hunting giant brown bears by yourself on one of the most dangerous, killer-bruin-infested stretches of land on Kodiak Island.
You are hunter/actress/adrenaline-seeking and proud Alaskan Hillarie Putnam, and it seems like you can take on anything, from the high jump to high mountains to the highest levels of Hollywood’s A-list.
Putnam, 25, recently was one of the participants – along with her dad, David – on the successful History Channel debut series, The Hunt, which follows bear hunters throughout Alaska.
She’s also an up-and-coming actor (we’ll have more about her powerful turn with Nicolas Cage and more in part two of this interview). So needless to say, Putnam is keeping busy; she’s in negotiations to host her own hunting show from a woman’s perspective.
She and longtime boyfriend, Dylan, have talked about getting married someday, and whenever she does tie the knot, this full-throttle outdoors junkie wants to channel her inner namesake, Sir Edmund Hillary, and exchange vows high atop a peak in the Himalayas.
Putnam, who splits her time between Alaska and Seattle, sat down with us recently to talk about a wide variety of subjects.
Hillarie Putnam 1
Chris Cocoles So tell me about how your passion for the outdoors began.
Hillarie Putnam We moved from Michigan to Alaska, because Dad always wanted to climb the mountains of Alaska; he’s a big mountaineer. I have two deaf siblings, so I don’t know what the heck my parents were doing moving us to Alaska, but we drove everything up there to Wasilla; my mom’s a special education teacher specializing in child development for (the hearing impaired). And my brother and sister kind of moved to all-deaf schools. So I was pretty much raised as an only child. And I grew up hunting and fishing. I think I shot my first gun at 4 and started going out hunting with my dad at 8. I also had my first swill of whiskey at 8 [laughs]. My dad wanted me to be the youngest girl in Alaska to get all five large game – it didn’t work out. He wanted me to be the youngest girl to climb Denali – that didn’t work out. I was balancing outdoors with the sports I played and the acting I did. But he taught me to have high goals; even if you don’t achieve them, it’s good to put that carrot out in front of you.
CC I would imagine as a little kid in Alaska, you are bound to get naturally attracted to the outdoors. So he didn’t have to drag you out?
HP Not at all; I’m so similar to my dad as I’m now older, it’s getting scary [laughs]. My brother – not interested in it at all. He has kids of his own now and is into insects and bugs and bringing them into the outdoors. But he’s not much of a hunter, and if you asked him for his perspective, he would just assume people not hunt. My brother supports me to the end of time, but we were talking about me doing some projects with traveling and hunting, and he told me, “Just to let you know, if you go to Africa, I’m not going to be in favor of it.”
CC While we’re on that subject, so many women who hunt have been ripped for it on social media. Has that happened to you like the Texas Tech cheerleader, Kendall Jones?
HP TMZ did a thing about her, and just because I’m in the entertainment industry, next thing you know my (Twitter feed) was getting this and that from people about hunting. It’s interesting how much technology we have at our fingertips these days. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. People don’t go out and witness stuff for themselves anymore. They just click a button, and you don’t always get the appropriate information; or don’t have the experience of being out there of taking an animal’s life. There’s a whole lot that goes into that. Nobody understands the gravity of that except for the person who pulls the trigger and the creature that passes away. It’s interesting seeing so much input on that split second.
CDid you get a lot of negative backlash after The Hunt premiered?
HP The show got great feedback, partly because of how they shot everything. I did have one woman who commented because we didn’t do anything with the bear meat. Honestly, if anyone can hunt bear above the Arctic Circle, the bear up there tastes like pork. They are better than any moose, goat or sheep – anything I’ve ever had. But the bears on Kodiak Island are so large because they feed on a lot of decaying salmon. So you can’t really do much with them; it’s more of a game management and trophy hunt. But it was interesting how many people said, “You’re an Alaskan who appreciates the Alaskan way of life, but you don’t eat the bear meat.” Any Alaskan Native will tell you’re an idiot if you’re going to eat that (Kodiak) bear meat. There are certain things you eat, certain things you don’t eat in the state of Alaska. It’s wild, and you’re not going to somebody’s farm or ranch. There are no fences everywhere, and you’re very much stepping into that circle of life that happens.
CC On the show, you and your dad were hunting and he said goodbye to you and had you continue your hunt alone – of course, with a cameraman filming you – but I could sense that was a genuine release of emotions by your dad.
 HP He was moved, and it’s happened before. We do a month-long float trip – I can’t say where exactly – above the Arctic Circle and you can hunt all of Alaska’s big-game animals. He had some of his buddies from Michigan with him. So we were on the river and I said I wanted to hang back on my raft, and the guys can push forward. I had my tags, but I mostly just went as an outfitter and to help out. And the guys were like, “You know where we’re at, right?” And sure enough, I ended up meeting back up with them, with a 58-inch bull (moose) with extremely heavy brow tines. It’s probably one of the nicest racks I’ve ever seen. So that was one step of him seeing, “She doesn’t really need me anymore.” And I think he thinks, “I don’t have to tell her how to set the tent, tell her how to do this. All these things she can do without me having to tell her.”
So I think hunting on Kodiak was something he always wanted to take me to do because very few people get to go do it. As soon as he found out my bear went down (on the show), he called my sat phone and asked how many shots did it take? He said, “I think if I would have been there, I might have been able to get you in a better position.” So there’s always critique and feedback.
The footage they got in the show, it was amazing how close it hit home. They didn’t talk about it on the show, but I had a dear friend [Lorri Egge] who passed away two days before we filmed that. She was my female role model growing up. So I think that played into (the emotion) too when he left. My dad is this super tough shell and everyone kind of thinks he’s a bit of an (ass****) and he’s this mountain man who does it his way. But he’s the most kind and caring person, and I was glad you were able to see that side of him.
CC So how did you handle all that? You seemed to have your game face on.
HP It was emotional. I had one day, and when you watch the show it kind of skips ahead a day, where I didn’t leave the tent very much.
CC What was your overall experience on the show?
HP It was reality, though I shouldn’t say “reality” as it was more documentary-series television. But being a focal point was very strange. I’ve done tons of theater, films, television shows and commercials. And with film and television it’s an escape; you get to be somebody else for a few days. With this it was not so much shooting it, but afterwards, it was a little scary that it was just me. How was I going to be perceived by the public?
CC Did you get a chance to see the show before it aired?
HP Nope. I’m working on coming up with my own stuff. Then you have a bit more of an idea of how you want it. There was no feedback and you don’t know how they’re going paint you. A lot of things happen out in the field, so it’s really trusting to build a strong relationship with your shooter/producer. Because they are the ones reporting the story back to the network. Chad, my shooter/producer, was phenomenal. He and I bonded really well, and I think he took the time to get to know us as people and not just as gun-totin’ Alaskans. I think History did a great job.
CC Tell me about the moment you got your bear on the show.
HP As soon as the bear goes down and takes off into the woods, I said “Alright, we gotta go.” We went down the hill – and we’re talking steep. We were all over the place running down the hill and I could hear Chad laughing. I’m like, “What are you doing?” He said, “This is insane! It’s like Indiana Jones. I’ve never been on a show that’s this real.” He was elated to be doing this, but he realized we were going into an extremely dangerous situation; the brush on Kodiak is insanely thick. He’s worked on tons and tons of shows, and he just couldn’t believe how raw and real hunting in Alaska is. People ask what’s real and what’s not real on that show, and I just tell them to spend a night on Kodiak.
CC How do you feel women are perceived as hunters compared to men?
HP I’m not the only woman who hunts. And there’s always going to be criticism, because we’re kind of stepping out as the first women who are doing this. And I think everyone believes all women should have this immense amount of compassion and not want to kill things. But you go out into the field with women and men and ask the men, “Who does better in the field?” It’s usually women. It’s a really strange element. We’re very patient in the field. The Hunt got really great feedback. They showed the camaraderie of the people.
CC Would you like to be back on The Hunt for season two?
HP We’re waiting to see if they renew it [by the time this issue comes out, that may be decided]. If it does and I come back, that would be awesome. I’m in a holding pattern, so if The Hunt does well, the direction they want to take is that I’ve had a rare opportunity to work as an outfitter for one of the guides on Kodiak. I’m hoping the show gets picked back up so people can see what that process is.
CC So what kind of hunting show do you hope to develop yourself?
HP There isn’t a series out there with a strong female lead, as far as docu-series television that puts a woman in a man’s element and shows how she can succeed. And I think that’s a reason why The Hunt did so well. And the network wasn’t quite expecting that. Because we still have to put things in these boxes. What stories sell? Fish-out-of-water stories sell. I think that originally what they were thinking [with Putnam’s part of the overall storyline]: Here’s a girl and a coming-of-age story. But once I got out there in the field it was more of, “Wow, she actually knows as much as the guys who were out there.”
CC So about this wedding someday on the top of a mountain …
HP My parents have been together since they were 11 and got married at 18. And they are now, 59, 60? So they’ve been together for a long time. My boyfriend and I have been together for seven years. So what we’ve said is if we do decide to get married, it’s going to be by a Sherpa and somewhere in the Himalayas because I want it to be somewhere Sir Edmund Hillary’s climbed. And anyone can come, but you’ll have to climb the mountain to get there. ASJ
Editor’s note: Look for part two of our interview with Hillarie Putnam in the October issue of Alaska Sporting Journal. 




four mile



ADFG’s Opposition To Kenai Bear Hunt Closure

Photo by Tom Reale

Photo by Tom Reale


The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed shutting down brown bear hunting at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge until May 31, 2015.

That’s not going to sit well within Alaska’s borders.

From the Fairbanks News-Miner: 

Using state data from the last two decades, refuge manager Andy Loranger said the population of brown bears has declined 18 percent on the Kenai Peninsula because of human-caused deaths. The service proposed a temporary closure of the brown-bear hunting season effective Sept. 1 to May 31, 2015 as a “protective measure to ensure consistency with refuge mandates.”

More liberal hunting regulations were enacted in 2012 by the Alaska Board of Game. As a result, 168 brown bears, including 42 adult sows, have been killed in the last three years, refuge supervisory biologist John Morton said.

“In a small population. If you kill a lot of bears, it will have an impact,” Morton said. “This is why a cautious approach is warranted. The refuge is mandated by Congress to conserve wildlife population – and that includes brown bears.”

Last October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service implemented a 30-day emergency closure on the refuge. To date this year, 54 brown bears have been killed, including five adult sows, 52 through hunting. Alaska’s Fish and Game agency has set a cap to not exceed 70 bears and that adult-sow mortalities not exceed 17, The Peninsula Clarion reports (

Locals and state officials weren’t convinced.

“What is missing from the discussion is the requests from the public to respond to increasing brown bear populations and negative interactions,” said Doug Vincent-Lang, director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “The refuge is more on management philosophy and ethics than resource conservation. . No definition of natural diversity is offered. I don’t believe the intention of Congress was to allow the federal government to hold such power over fish and wildlife that have been recognized as a state resource.”

ADFG officials posted its response

Here’s a sample of the report:

We believe the biological information the Service has provided to justify this closure is incomplete and in some cases inaccurate. For instance, the Service asserts that brown bear population densities on the
2 Director’s Comments/USFWS Proposal to Pre-empt State Brown Bear Regs.

 Kenai Peninsula should be comparable to those on the Katmai coast, Kodiak archipelago, and portions of southeast Alaska. While all of these bear populations have access to salmon as a food source, the bears on the Kenai lack the access to rich intertidal areas and sedge flats that typify true coastal bear
populations. Expecting brown bear densities on the Kenai Peninsula to match those of true coastal populations elsewhere and managing accordingly is not reasonable, particularly when coupled with the
increased level of human influence on the Kenai.
Unfortunately, Service news releases and background information regarding the current abundance of
brown bears on the Kenai Peninsula inaccurately indicate a finite, static bear population. In other words, it’s like we had a bank account of 600 bears in 2010 and there have been no new ones coming into the
account and every bear killed is a net loss to the account. It is important to recognize that while there has been harvest of bears there has also been recruitment to the population through birth. In fact, in
many Alaska brown bear populations, increased harvest of adult males results in increased cub survival and potentially increased sub-adult survival. We are working with service biologists to develop more
accurate models to predict population trends under various harvest scenarios and expect to have that
work completed by the time the Board of Game meets to consider harvest regulations this spring. In the meantime, we do not agree with the Service’s decision to take management action based on an
inaccurate method of predicting population effects.
In summary, the State of Alaska believes state harvest regulations are sufficiently conservative to ensure the long-term sustainability of the brown bear population on the Kenai Peninsula, and disagrees with the
Service’s decision to restrict hunting opportunity.




Fishing With The “Queen Of Kings”


Photo courtesy of Waterfall Resort

Gretchen Porter is the Reigning Queen of Waterfall Resort’s

2014 $100K “King of Kings” Tournament in Alaska

Newport Beach, CA’s petite resident catches the biggest king salmon of the season:
A whopping 65.5 lbs!

Ketchikan, Alaska – September 2, 2014 – Gretchen Porter of Newport Beach, CA became the “Queen of Kings” in Waterfall Resort’s 26th annual$100K “King of Kings” Salmon Tournament by reeling in the largest catch of the 2014 season: a 65.5 lb king salmon (Chinook) that weighed more than half her body weight. Porter is no stranger to victory at Waterfall Resort, in 2004 she captured the resort’s record for the biggest king salmon ever caught: a whopping 79.2 lbs, just 10 inches shorter than Porter. An exclusive competition for guests of Waterfall Resort, both novice and avid anglers alike vied for the top spot and bragging rights during the 2014 season, from June 13 through August 18, 2014.

Following daily fishing excursions, resort guests weighed-in their wild Alaskan king salmon to see who won “King of the Day.” Tournament prizes included cash payouts, free trips back to the Resort, Cabela’s Outdoor merchandise, International Princess Cruises, a Ford Truck and more. During the 2014 season, Southeast Alaska experienced some of the best fishing in years due to improved king salmon fishing limits as set by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game allowing some guests to take home double their peak season Chinook catch over last year.

Established in 1912, Waterfall Resort was once a fish cannery that broke records for the sheer volume of seafood it caught and exported all over the world. In 1983, The Waterfall Group transformed the property into one of the finest remote sport-fishing destinations in the world. Just a 90-minute flight from Seattle, its unparalleled location on Prince of Wales Island adjacent Alaska’s Inside Passage combined with its all-inclusive four-star guest service, expert guides, historic accommodations, and distinct culinary offerings make for an unforgettable experience year after year.

Waterfall Resort guests participated in the 2014 $100,000 “King of Kings” Salmon Tournament as part of their stay for an additional entry fee of $75, which was valid for the full summer season.

To book a stay call 800-544-5125 or visit

Huge Homer Halibut Quite A Catch

huge-halibut-Nyle-Lightcap-Homer-Chamber-of-Commerce- (1)


Photo courtesy of Nyle Lightcap Homer/Chamber of Commerce

Jackson Hobbs has quite a tale to tell to fellow Eagle Scouts. He caught a 335-pound halibut that put him as the leader in the clubhouse during the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. This could turn out to be very profitable visit to the Last Frontier for Hobbs, who was vacationing from his home in Franklin, Idaho.

From the Anchorage Daily News/Alaska Dispatch:

Fishing aboard the Venturess with skipper Travis Larson of Alaska Premier Sportfishing, Hobbs, 16, hauled in a monster 335-pound fish that bested the previous leader by more than 57 pounds.

Homer Chamber of Commerce director Jim Lavrakas said official derby records don’t list the age of previous champions, but nobody he’s spoken with can remember a younger angler winning the derby, which began in 1986.

 “We believe this is the youngest possible derby winner in derby history,” Lavrakas said Wednesday from Homer.

If Hobbs’ fish remains the derby leader through the event’s Sept. 15 conclusion, he’ll take home at least $10,000. Before Hobbs weighed his fish, only one halibut weighing more than 200 pounds was on the leaderboard.

The fish was turned in just half an hour before Tuesday night’s 9 p.m. deadline, narrowly escaping disqualification. Derby rules say any fish has to be caught the same day it’s punched on an angler’s derby ticket. Between the late weigh-in and the large size of the fish, Lavrakas speculated the fishing party must have gone far out of port to land the leviathan.

Hobbs reportedly told derby officials the fish “only took a half-hour to bring in.”

We’re rooting for you to take home the big money, Travis!

Bering Sea Gold Returns Friday




Last winter, we profiled the Discovery Channel show, Bering Sea Gold, focusing our story on opera singer/gold dredger Emily Riedel. The show returns with a new season on Friday night; here are some details on the upcoming season, plus  couple preview links:


 Series Premieres on Friday, August 22, at 9 PM E/P on the Discovery Channel

(Los Angeles, Calif.) – The ambitious treasure hunters are back at it again.  Life isn’t easy for the gold dredgers in the frontier town of Nome, Alaska.  But that doesn’t stop them from hunting gold in one of the world’s most inhospitable places – the bottom of the frozen Bering Sea beneath four feet thick sheets of ice.   From Original Productions, creators of the multiple Emmy Award-winning series DEADLIEST CATCH, the fourth season of BERING SEA GOLD premieres Friday, August 22, at 9 PM E/P on the Discovery Channel


To the Nome dredging fleet, gold equals freedom.  This year, the fortune seekers head out in search of the American dream – each determined to top last year’s record-setting gold haul.  But can they put their personal battles aside, withstand the arctic environment and concentrate on finding treasure? 


After establishing herself as a successful captain, 26-year-old Emily Riedel is back at it again with a brand new, expensive state-of-the-art ice dredge.  Facing major debt, Emily is feeling the pressure to find gold fast and prove that her success as Nome’s first and only female dredge owner was not a fluke. Meanwhile, Emily’s eccentric father, Steve Riedel, is sidelined and planning his ultimate comeback after bottoming out and losing his dredge to the repo man. The Pomrenke duo are back at it as well – this father/son team pulled in a record-setting haul last summer but Shawn Pomrenke, the self-proclaimed “Mr. Gold,”  has never succeeded under the ice.  This year’s ice season crews include:

 Bering Sea Gold 2

Emily Riedel returns to Nome to try and strike it rich on the news season of Bering Sea Gold. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL) 


  • The Shamrock:  Shawn Pomrenke and his dad Steve are fixtures in Nome year-round, running their increasingly successful mining company.  However, the guys have never had a lot of success during the winter dredging season – with sub-zero temperatures and snow storms hammering their crew.  Also, Shawn can be short-tempered and combative which doesn’t help. Can he keep his cool even when the going gets tough?
  • The Reaper: Having severed ties with Steve Riedel, the fighting Kelly’s are keeping it in the family this season.  Sons Kris and Andy are working with their dad, Brad, but there’s one big problem.  They rarely see eye-to-eye.  Let the fighting begin!
  • The Eroica: Emily Riedel has faced a lot of uphill battles over the years.  Last season, she parted ways with her former childhood friend (and love interest) Zeke Tenhoff – following the suicide of their close friend John Bunce.  As Nome’s first and only female dredge owner, Emily has a lot to prove and hopes that she can earn enough money to pay off her debts and save up for her big opera ambitions.  She has floundered as a greenhorn and exposed her fear of diving.  However, she eventually struck gold last summer and now everyone is back for more.
  • Miss Nomer: Zeke Tenhoff has returned to Nome and is ready to strike it rich.  After facing his personal demons – and a few battles with the law – Zeke is back with a new girlfriend, Sarah, who he met while visiting New Orleans. Zeke has teamed up with dredge-geek Glen LeBaron.  But can Glen keep his ego in check?  Or will this turn into the ultimate grudge match?
  • Steve’s World:  Steve Riedel is hoping for some major change in luck.  He was fired from his first dredge, failed at ice mining and lost his dredge from last summer after it got repossessed.  Once the summer season kicks in, Steve plans to pull out all the stops.  But for now, he’s sidelined in a remote compound on the edge of town, simply known as Steve’s World.
  • The Wild Ranger: Over the past three seasons, Vernon Adkison has leveraged everything he owns – with nearly a million in the hole – for his dream of striking the mother lode.  For Vernon, the stakes have never been higher – and he’ll either make it or truly break it this season.

reveals the real-life dangers of a job with no typical day at the office.  As each day passes, the ambitious fortune seekers have only one option: find the gold before debt takes hold.  BERING SEA GOLD is produced for Discovery Channel by Original Productions, a Fremantle Media company.  For Original Productions, executive producers are Thom Beers, Philip D. Segal, Jeff Conroy and John Gray and Sean Dash. For Discovery Channel, Executive Producer is David Pritikin.

About Discovery Channel

Discovery Channel is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement. The network, which is distributed to 100.8 million U.S. homes, can be seen in 210 countries and territories, offering a signature mix of compelling, high-end production values and vivid cinematography across genres including, science and technology, exploration, adventure, history and in-depth, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the people, places and organizations that shape and share our world. For more information, please


Deadliest Catch Scores Big At Emmys

alaska_cover (4) AS-4-14-cover-small


Deadliest Catch, the Discovery Channel’s ode to Alaskan crab boat skippers and their crews, has appeared on our cover twice this year (see above), and we were excited to see the show that’s now in its 10th season scored bit at the 2014 Primetime Creative Arts Emmys earlier this month. Congrats, guys!

Here’s the release from our friends at the Discovery Channel:

Discovery Channel’s DEADLIEST CATCH won big at the 2014 Primetime Creative Arts Emmys® on Saturday, August 16, taking home three awards including a win for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program.  The series, which recently wrapped its landmark 10th season on Discovery Channel, also won for Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming and Outstanding Picture Editing for Reality Programming.    

 These latest wins are in addition to an Interactive Emmy for Multiplatform Storytelling for SKYWIRE LIVE WITH NIK WALLENDA.  The companion website for the live event for tightrope walker Nik Wallenda’s epic walk over the Grand Canyon featured compelling video, 360-degree interactive views, backstage moments, real-time social updates and many other digital elements.

DEADLIEST CATCH profiles the men who risk everything to work the most dangerous job in the world – crab fishing in the icy, treacherous waters of Alaska’s Bering Sea.  This past season of Deadliest Catch had a ratings streak, as the #1 show on cable on Tuesday nights among key demos for 16 consecutive weeks.

In the Emmy®-winning season 10 premiere, the wary veteran skippers cement their legacies on the Bering Sea with the young guns trying to create their own… But they better be careful what they wish for.  This King Crab season they are here to stay, but it’s not going to be easy. A government shutdown shortens the season, which starts off a series of dangerous chain reactions that force the fleet to fish harder and faster to make the market deadline.

DEADLIEST CATCH is produced for Discovery Channel by Original Productions, a FremantleMedia Company.  The following people were recognized for their work on DEADLIEST CATCH:


Thom Beers, Executive Producer
Jeff Conroy, Executive Producer
John Gray, Executive Producer
David Pritikin, Executive Producer
R. Decker Watson, Jr., Co-Executive Producer

Johnny Beechler, Supervising Producer
Geoff Miller, Supervising Producer

Cinematography Team 

Josh Earl, A.C.E., Supervising Editor
Rob Butler, A.C.E., Editor
Art O’Leary, Editor

B.C. Mine Accident And Alaska Response

Here’s an interesting take on last week’s Mount Polley mine accident in British Columbia that was sure to trigger a response in Alaska, which has been locked in a tug-of-war over the Pebble Mine project. 

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

The collapse of the Mount Polley tailings dam “validates fears Alaska fishermen have regarding Canada’s proposed development of large-scale hardrock mineral mines near transboundary rivers with Alaska,” Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who has opposed EPA intervention at the Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay, asked Kerry to intervene to ensure regulation at Canadian mines.

“The tailings breach at Mount Polley mine … has renewed the specter of environmental impacts from large scale hard rock mineral developments in Canada that are located near transboundary rivers,” Murkowski wrote.

“Thousands of Alaska natives, commercial fishermen, and tourism industry shareholders have legitimate concerns about the potential impacts that large scale mining in Canada could hold for them.” …



Environmental Protection  on the concern regarding the proposed Pebble Mine project:

“We don’t want this to happen in Bristol Bay,” said Kim Williams, director of Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of Alaska Native Tribes and corporations. “With all the similarities between Pebble and the Mount Polley copper mine, we’re urging the EPA to take immediate action to finalize mine waste restrictions in Bristol Bay,” she continued.

On Monday, a tailings dam failure caused over five million cubic meters of wastewater to spill from Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley copper and gold mine, flowing into the headwaters of the Fraser River watershed, and causing officials to enact a number of water use and drinking water bans. The Mount Polley Mine in B.C. and the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska are both large, open pit, copper porphyry mines, with a modern tailings dam design, located at the headwaters of an important fishery.

“Our research shows that these tailings dam failures are far more common than the industry wants to admit,” said Bonnie Gestring of Earthworks northwest office.  “In the U.S. more than a quarter of the currently operating copper porphyry mines have experienced partial or total tailings pond failures.” She continued, “That’s why the EPA’s plan to restrict mine waste in the Bristol Bay watershed is so critical to the future of our nation’s most valuable wild salmon fishery, ”

Such an event will only add to the tension.






Deadliest Catch Season Finale Coming Next Week

Our friends at the Discovery Channel have been great in setting us up with some interviews to do profiles on both Johnathan Hillstrand, captain of the crabbing vessel Time Bandit, and the Northwestern father and daughter team of Capt. Sig Hansen and his new deckhand, Mandy Hansen.

The show’s 10th season finale is this Tuesday, Aug. 5. Here are some photos courtesy of Discovery:

Discovery Channel


Discovery Channel


Discovery Channel



Peculiar Choice Added To Alaska Fisheries Board By Parnell



Alaska’s Pebble Mine opposition is feeling a little miffed right now. Word is out that Gov. Sean Parnell has named Ben Mohr as his “fisheries advisor.” A big deal? Well, if you factor in that Mohr spent six years representing the fisherman’s biggest enemy, the Pebble Mine project.

You can only assume how this news is being received in the Last Frontier:

The Anchorage Daily News/Alaska Dispatch

This is the time of year year when the governor appoints people to official positions. Parnell is delivering a couple of real doozies. In searching high and low (especially low) for a fisheries advisor, the governor landed on the six-year spokesmodel for the Pebble mine project, a guy named Ben Mohr. You know Pebble, the project that plans to build a giant poison lake at the headwaters of Alaska’s most productive salmon rivers. Mohr is definitely a guy you want making policy to ensure the health of our fisheries for the next millennium.

 In 2011, the governor appointed Mohr to the board of directors of the Alaska Humanities Forum because … well, I have no idea. Good grooming comes to mind.

 Yes, the guy who pimped Pebble and then worked as campaign manager for Ohio’s golden boy, Dan Sullivan, is now advising the governor on fisheries policy. Good thing we care so little about our fish that we’re comfortable letting political hacks manage them.

Undercurrents News 

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell’s recent selection of the next fisheries advisor is likely to leave some scratching their heads.

He appointed Ben Mohr, who worked for the Pebble Partnership and worked for years as a Pebble Partnership employee, reports Fish Radio.

“Alaskans overwhelmingly oppose the Pebble Mine, yet Parnell has done everything in his power to push this mine through the permitting process and wreak havoc on Bristol Bay’s valuable fishery,” Kay Brown, executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party, said.

Ben Mohr has been appointed by Parnell to replace Stephanie Moreland. Mohr worked six years as a spokesperson for the Pebble Partnership. He also has worked as a campaign manager for Dan Sullivan, the candidate for U.S. Senate who previously pushed for Pebble mine as DNR Commissioner.

Northern Dynasty is attempting to develop a copper, molybdenum, and gold deposit on state land despite peer-reviewed scientific studies finding that the mine would negatively impact salmon in Bristol Bay.  Local Lake and Peninsula Borough residents passed an ordinance opposing Pebble Mine, and public opinion polls show overwhelming bipartisan opposition to the project.

Ben Mohr is just the latest controversial appointment of Parnell’s.

And that’s the way it is on a Thursday in Alaska.






Kenai River Salmon Fishing Shut Down

You could see this one coming.

All the signs were dismal pointing toward the 2014 Kenai River king salmon season.  Then came the news the famed river would be closed to fishing until July 1. 

Bears will have the Kenai River salmon to themselves due to a closure to all fishing for kings. (EARL FOYTACK)

Bears will have the Kenai River salmon to themselves due to a closure to all fishing for kings. (EARL FOYTACK)


Now comes the sobering news the Kenai will be closed to all sport and commercial fishing for the remainder of the season that was scheduled to run through July 31.

Just last week, the river was limited to a first: catch-and-release only with barbless hooks due to declining return projections.

From the Peninsula Clarion:

The closure, effective Saturday, triggers a closure of commercial setnet fishing on the East Side of Cook Inlet and is meant to conserve Kenai-bound king salmon which are not currently projected to return in large enough numbers to make the escapement goal on the Kenai River.

As of July 23, the sonar estimate of king salmon passage into the Kenai River was 8,023 fish and current projections put the final escapement between 13,500 and 14,000 fish — below the river’s escapement goal range of 15,000-30,000 fish.

Daily estimates of king salmon passage into the river have remained in the low hundreds of fish — the highest passage to date was Sunday, which saw more than 1,000 fish pass the sonar. Counts have since dropped significantly.

Fish and Game sport fish division area management biologist Robert Begich said the high passage on Sunday helped bump projections upward but continued low counts kept projections lower than what is needed to make the escapement goal.

Begich said projections would have to increase dramatically for the fishery to be reopened.

“If 5,000 kings came into the river overnight, if a miracle happened, yeah we’d turn it back on,” he said. “We just want to make the goal and it’s just a day-to-day thing. It’s going to take a lot to (reopen).”