Frontier. The word conjures up an image of a place untamed by man. This is the place where the wind blows harder; the snow piles up higher; the rain falls longer; the sun shines all day, and the dark is that much colder. Mountain ranges are so vast as to seem unapproachable; over sized bears gorge on salmon runs that emerge like silvery walls from the ocean to storm the still pristine rivers; a chaotic ocean exists where building-sized waves clash with the winter ice pack. The perpetual battle of water and fire sculpts the landscape. Trembling volcanoes dot the landscape, and as the earth pushes upwards, the glaciers scrape it all downward. Everything is bigger in Alaska, from the earthquakes to the floods, the herds of hoofed creatures to the mineral deposits.
Like veins coursing through a body, massive rivers wend their way through the tundra and boreal forest before depositing the glacial ice and snow back to their source, Bristol Bay, the Pacific Ocean. A living thing, this massive and vibrant ecosystem hums with such intensity, the circle of life right in front of our eyes. At the very heart of it all is Lake Iliamna, the largest freshwater body in the largest state with the largest school of salmon returning from our largest ocean.Above all of this grandeur is one of the largest deposits of undeveloped gold and copper. The Pebble Mine Corporation proposes to dig a crater spanning 3.2 miles wide and thousands of feet deep only 15 miles upstream from this fragile ecosystem to harvest these minerals. This proposal creates the largest open pit mine in North America.
There is no more basic necessity in life than food. Alaska is our fishing grounds. No less than 60% of the seafood we eat comes from these fertile waters. The crown jewel of this gift is the sockeye salmon. World renowned for its protein laden beet red flesh, this fish sustains not only an industry but a culture 10,000 years old.
If built, it is not a question of whether this mine may punch a hole in the heart of the region, it is simply when. Three large dams would be required to permanently contain 10 BILLION TONS of hazardous waste, known as tailings. Toxic mine tailings will be stored in these mega settling ponds behind enormous earthen dams. The largest earthen dam holding back this toxic lake would be 740 feet tall and 4.3 miles long. The mining company plans to leave this waste behind these dams into perpetuity, which is a concept man has little knowledge of. When these dams fail this sludge will forever foul the world’s largest salmon nursery. Even barring a catastrophic failure, the toxic sludge will befoul the groundwater which is the fuel behind the water cycle. The mine will only be active for 30 to 40 years, but the toxic pit and lakes full of tailings waste will be perched above Lake Iliamna forever, or until the ground shakes or the harsh freeze/thaw cycles weaken this earthen dam to the point of failure. This land is volatile and untamable – centered in the heart of the Ring of Fire.
I specialize in underwater photography of native trout species. The unique skills I have gained through countless hours spent on and in the river have prepared me to photograph the salmon, trout, and other native fish of the Bristol Bay watershed in a way they have never been photographed before. My goal is to share this by photographing the watershed, landscape, and fish, and to capture compelling images of what we are fighting to save. I will offer my Pebble Mine photography completely free of charge to any non-profit group opposed to Pebble Mine in return for donating something to this project. There are a limited number of opportunities for companies to get on board as well.
Alaska still teems with what has been lost in the lower forty-eight. Beyond feeding us, knowing that these places still exist gives us comfort and inspires us.I am committed to do All I can. I will bring All my knowledge, equipment, and experience and give All my blood, sweat, and passion to this end. Thank you.
Budget and itinerary:
Transportation in this region is done by boat and plane. This does not come cheap as gas is as much as 6 dollars a gallon. The plan is to start in Bristol Bay and shoot the driftnetters in action then take a puddle jumper in, land at the headwaters to one of Bristol Bay's numerous rivers, and spend 3 weeks floating 100 miles to the ocean. Another 3 to 4 weeks on either end will be filled as opportunities arise This will not be a 2 week vacation, it is a 2 month mission to follow these runs from the ocean to the headwaters. My biggest costs are air transport, raft rental, and a backup camera setup. I would like to personally thank Orvis for being the inaugural supporter of this project, with a $2,500 grant, and for their industry leading commitment in opposition to the Pebble Mine.
Plane flights: $5000
Seattle-Anchorage-Dillingham-King Salmon-Bethel-Quinhagak-Bethel-Lake Pegati-Bethel-Illiamna-anchorage-Seattle.....
Boat Rental: $3000
raft, kitchen box
Backup camera/lens: $5000
5D mark III rental, aquatech housing and flash, 8 64 gig cards, LP-s dome port, EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens
Pledge fulfillment, food, safety equipment: $3500
canvas, ink, calories, epirb, shotgun, sat phone
Kickstarter’s cut: $1100
To date, I have worked with numerous publications and conservation groups. These include but are not limited to: national and local Trout Unlimited chapters, The Nature Conservancy, Catch Magazine, Clark Fork Coalition, Montana Outdoors, Montana Sporting Journal, National Wildlife Federation, The Flyfish Journal, Amato Publications, Montana Land Alliance, American Scientist, American Rivers, The States of Montana, California, and Wyoming, Coastkeeper Alliance, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, Trout Magazine, California Trout, Western Environmental Law Center, Montana Naturalist, Outside Bozeman, Bozeman Magazine, Total Flyfisher, Flyfishing and Tying, Western Rivers conservancy, The Drake, Orvis, Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, Patagonia, and Field and Stream.
Risks and challenges
The inherent risks of an undertaking like this are death by bear or drowning along with whatever else the wilds may dole out. My cameras could break, the river may blow out. I'll get er done......Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)