A new ballot measure is set to be voted on in the November state election, and if approved, would put restrictions on mining in Bristol Bay. KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.
Political group Bristol Bay Forever is sponsoring a ballot measure that would put additional environmental protections on the area known as the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve. The area, consisting of 36,000 square miles of land and rivers in Southwest Alaska, was established in 1972 as a way to protect the local salmon populations from the effects of oil and gas development. For any oil or gas company to get surface entry rights, they need to obtain a legislative declaration that says their activities won’t harm the fish. Earlier this month, Alaska Common Ground held a forum on the ballot measure, which, among other things, would expand these restrictions to large scale metallic sulfide mines. Moderator and former Division of Mining, Land, and Water Director Dick Mylius explains.
“The initiative basically does three significant things to the existing fisheries reserve. It adds those large scale metallic mines to things requiring legislative approval, it broadens the geographic area to include the entire drainage including uplands, and it also applies not just to state waters or state lands. It applies to state, private, and federal lands within the reserve.”
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