Now is not the time to further endanger king returns

Posted: Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The excitement of catching a king salmon can only be explained and talked about to someone who has done it. Putting your feet in the water of the Chuitna is the beginning of a great day. Will they hit the lures that we have so carefully made to look like their food? Will my line and pole hold the wily old king? Oh my, fish on!

This year was the only time since I have been an Alaskan that we have the only river on the west side of Cook Inlet open to king fishing. Wow, how scary is that and who would have ever thought that Cook Inlet would be in danger of losing its king run?

Considering all the rivers that have been closed to king fishing in the upper Cook Inlet, why would we risk killing off the Chuit River by letting Pac Rim coal mine through 11 miles of salmon streams and dump mine waste water into it? Yes, that is what Pac Rim proposes to do, which would effectively kill our river, ruin our wetlands and contaminate our beaches with coal dust. What about human health, the fish, the game, and people who rely on good drinking water? "Just trust us," we are told, "we have rules and we cannot break them." But no one has ever been allowed to completely mine through and destroy a salmon bearing stream in Alaska and no one has ever restored a river to its salmon bearing ecosystem, anywhere.

Larry Heilman, Clark Smith, and I thought our golden years meant going fishing, doing a bit of hunting, taking a ride on the beach, having a cookout and watching the whales go by. Oh yes, and maybe working on that honey-do list; but not fighting coal companies. We should not have to explain why this is a bad idea and could be the worst mistake for Alaskans who care about all that our clean rivers and wild places have to offer.

If you like to drink clean water, breathe fresh air, go fishing and hunting, float rivers, walk the beaches and just enjoy the outdoors, we need your help to protect the Chuit River. Call Alaska Department of Fish and Game today and tell them not to permit mining through salmon streams.

Ron Burnett


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