A battle between salmon fishermen, environmentalists and the gold mining industry has been brewing for more than a decade in a remote part of Southwest Alaska where the Arctic tundra meets the wetlands, grizzly bears and caribou roam and rivers rich with fish spill out into Bristol Bay.
Alaskans are being forced to choose between protecting one of the most crucial salmon fisheries in the world and a gold mine that brings with it the possibility of thousands of jobs and billions in revenue. Advocates and the Environmental Protection Agency say a major mining project so close to the watershed that feeds the bay would have a tremendous impact on the surrounding environment — including the salmon population.
The showdown will be highlighted when President Barack Obama arrives in Anchorage, Alaska today and visits the nearby city of Dillingham to talk to fisherman on Wednesday who are convinced the salmon fishery and the Pebble Mine — which could bring in an estimated $64 billion in economic contributions to the region — can’t coexist.
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