Bristol Bay: Where Water is Gold
This project will create a dynamic photo essay book about the way of life in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, to be released in 2014.
This project will produce a photo-essay book that highlights the natural resources and way of life for the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. I have a contract with Braided River to publish the book, with a planned release in late 2014. This book will provide a comprehensive look at the way of life – from fishing to hunting to trapping and gathering of eggs and berries – as well as commercial herring and salmon fishing, hunting, recreational uses, wildlife and scenery. The goal will be to produce a book that conservation partners can use to extol the values of the region, and what is at stake with an eye toward potential mineral development. The project will also produce images for use in an online database available to the Alaska conservation community. I will also continue fieldwork after the book is published, providing it on the project website so that the story of Bristol Bay can continue to grow.
The Bristol Bay region of southwestern Alaska features several dynamic river systems that form the foundation of the largest and most productive wild salmon fishery in the world. These rivers feature all five species of Pacific salmon, producing 50 percent of the world’s sockeye salmon supply and hosting a variety of fresh water fish, including rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. The fishing industry provides approximately 75 percent of all the jobs in the region, which spans from the Ugashik River to the south along the Alaska Peninsula to the coastal town of Dillingham to the north and west. The annual value of that fishery is approximatley $1.5 billion. Most of the more than 7,500 residents of the area rely heavily on salmon and other fish species to maintain a subsistence lifestyle, harvesting 150,000 salmon annually to support their diet.The people of the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds are among the last thriving salmon cultures in the world (the only other thriving salmon cultures are also in Alaska). The abundant moose, caribou and brown bear of the region also rely on the clean waters of these river systems in order to thrive. But most importantly, the salmon themselves depend on the consistent purity and balance of these waters in order to create a plentiful and diverse salmon population unlike any other in the world.
But with an increasing pressure for development of the rich mineral resources of the uplands of the Bristol Bay watershed – namely gold, copper and molybdenum – the Bristol Bay region faces increased pressure on a complex biological balance that has taken millennia to develop. In recent years, lawsuits, ballot initiatives, bills pending before Congress, and petitions to the Environmental Protection Agency have worked to enhance protections as well as promote development. It is a seemingly unending policy tug-of-war that has been heating up since 2004.
The proponents of the leading mine project, the Pebble Mine, have indicated they will submit their applications for development permits in the near future, thus initiating an environmental review process that will take years. An opportunity exists to protect the rivers that feed into the Bristol Bay region – the watersheds critical for the continued survival of salmon and wildlife, and for the people who rely on the sustainable uses of the resources they provide. As a powerful and attractive photo-essay book, Bristol Bay: Where Water is Gold will play an important role in educating the public and decision makers about why protecting the Bristol Bay region is an issue of national importance.
Funding raised through Kickstarter will be used to complete the fieldwork of the project. I have already been doing fieldwork for two years, and plan to finish up all of the fieldwork by early September. Normally, such a project would take several more years to complete, but our goal is to have a book released by fall of 2014, so that it will be available to educate the public during pending public permitting processes for mine development. In tight economic times, my conservation partners have not been able to provide financial assistance to complete the fieldwork, so it has been all self-funded with some crowd funding.
So, with your help, I can get out to remote locations to photograph wildlife and scenery, visit remote villages that are only accessible by boat or plane, and capture the essence of an amazing country and a vital way of life.My images will compliment essays from several renowned Alaskan authors to give people a vision and understanding of one of the most rich regions of the world in renewable resources.
Risks and challenges
One of the greatest challenges facing this project is the ability to get out to remote locations and complete the fieldwork due to the ever-changing weather in this region. But, living in Anchorage, I am able to quickly adapt to improving weather, allowing me to go on short notice on a flight out to the region. A photographer from outside of Alaska would have to come and spend several expensive months on location in order to get what I can in a much shorter time, and for considerably less expense.
This Kickstarter fundraising effort is to complete the fieldwork, and there is virtually no risk that the fieldwork will not be completed. The primary risk of this project is that insufficient funds will be raised through other sources to support the actual publication of the book. The publisher, Braided River, is working to secure funding support, and I will be doing what I can to conduct outreach to support that effort. Information on donating directly to the book publication effort is available on the project website.
Thus, any funds raised from this Kickstarter campaign effort that exceed what I need to support the fieldwork will be applied toward the design and production of the book.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)