MORNING HAD DESCENDED ON the town and a mild warm air, a memory of the austral summer, circulated in the streets, abandoned at this time of day as people slept off the Malbec that accompanied the previous night's dinners. I walked the deserted avenues and watched the sunlight break across the hillsides that stand sentry over this small slice of the Argentine frontier. About halfway down a rounded, ochre-stained peak to the northwest the light finally reached a cluster of rocks painted white and arranged to spell out the town's latest motto: No a la mina.
Meridian Gold, Inc., headquartered in Reno, Nevada, is proposing to develop an open-pit gold mine approximately seven kilometers upstream from this little corner of Chubut Province in what most North Americans refer to as Patagonia. The town of Esquel is small, only about 30,000 residents, and relies almost entirely upon the service
industry. It's the most important tourist center in the Chubut Mountain range and is considered a world-renowned, if still slightly undiscovered, angling destination. The author Paul Theroux ended his epic journey in The Old Patagonian Express here, while almost a century prior, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid found refuge on a ranch in the Cholila Valley just to the north. People also come to ski at La Hoya or to visit Los Alerces National Park, home of El Abuelo-the Grandfather-a giant alerce tree that is nearly 3,000 years old.
I've swapped positions on the globe for trout, dragging along a quiver of fly rods and my rudimentary Spanish-barely good enough to order una botella de vino tinto, or to understand that there is no such thing as over-the-top in this part of the world. It's not just the hillside graffiti; later that day the streets of Esquel would again come alive, as with a passion typical to their ftbol and their politics, the residents gather to begin a four-day commemoration of the victory achieved one year ago to the day.
In 2002 the provincial government of Chubut granted a gold-mining concession to El Desquite mining company, an Argentine subsidiary of U.S.-based, Canadian-owned Meridian Gold. The ore would be mined by the open-cast method, and cyanide leaching was to be used to purify the gold. The company proposed to bury solid waste from the mine in pits, while Lake Esquel was slated to become a tailings dam for the liquid wastes flowing downstream from the mine site.
In response the community created the "Self-Organized Assembly of Esquel Residents" and held a series of demonstrations in the city center, eventually persuading local government to call a non-binding referendum on March 23, 2003. Eighty-one percent of the vote came back against the mine. Today, a year later, they're celebrating.
"Everyone who lives here loves the outdoors," says a middle-aged Chilean woman I meet later at the rally. "And everyone is involved in something with the outdoors-fishing, skiing, trekking, rafting, bicycling. They're moving here from Buenos Aires because the parents all love sports and want their kids to grow up here.
"They live here for the ambience, not for the money they can make. They don't want here a mine city."
I knew a little of the fear that drove them to organize against such a massive development, but in truth, I know nothing about the satisfaction I see walking up and down these streets, multihued banners leading the way. In Montana, where I was born and raised, the legacy of large-scale mining is most strikingly on display in the town of Butte, once "the richest hill on earth" and now the country's largest Superfund site. Bizarrely, the Berkeley Pit has become a tourist attraction, looked upon with some amount of ironic charm, at least until the day 342 migrating geese picked the pit lake for a rest stop. Autopsies found blistered skin and kidneys in meltdown. Now loudspeakers broadcast around the clock during the height of the migratory season.
Fresher in the memory is the story of Zortman-Landusky, the state's largest gold mine. Here, on the outskirts of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in the north-central region of the state, Pegasus Gold operated the first large-scale, open-pit cyanide operation in the United States, and despite repeated assurances to the contrary-mixed among promises of the vast economic opportunity the development would bring to Montanans-the waste generated by the mine initiated an environmental catastrophe. Nearly every drainage in the Little Rocky Mountains has been contaminated with toxic runoff, and since the Canadian company has abandoned the site and received bankruptcy protection, Montana taxpayers have been left to foot the bill for collecting and treating the acid runoff in perpetuity.
It was the last straw for angry citizens and landowners; soon after, Montanans passed a statewide ban against the use of cyanide. After the state legislature tried to overturn their decision, they banned it again. But there were no parades, most likely because the damage had already been done.
My guide in Esquel, a gregarious Argentine of Basque heritage named Rodolfo Pradre, is tired of parades anyway-either talking about them or watching one go past. He's expecting an epic hatch on nearby Arroyo Pescado and we're burning daylight. Marching is no way to celebrate, he says. To do justice to the land and water that were saved, we should instead get out and enjoy it.
To me, his argument has little to do with rampant Patagonian brown trout and the related efficacy of an X-Caddis. Instead, it's about opportunity.
There's a beautiful, pure spring creek nearby. It's full of fish. The sun is shining. We own fly rods.
Ambience, in other words, not wealth.
Or, as G.K. Chesterton once put it: "To be clever enough to get all that money, one must be stupid enough to want it."
Click map above to see large, detailed
map of the Iliamna, Pebble Mine area.
Located in the southwestern part of Alaska, the proposed Pebble site lies just north of Iliamna Lake, 190 air-miles from Anchorage, upriver from Naknek, Igugig and Iliamna. On the right are satellite images. What the site looks like today and what the site would look like if the Northern Dynasty applications are approved.
NOT THREE MONTHS LATER, now at the outset of the boreal summer, I'm wading in the broad, clear waters of the Kvichak River, swinging a sculpin imitation through the braids of the Kaskanak Flats. The Kvichak lies approximately 250 miles southwest of Anchorage and has long carried a big reputation among anglers for the size of its lake-reared rainbows. The good fishing starts right in Igiugig at the river's outlet from Lake Iliamna, and from there downstream an entire industry has sprung up around these rainbows. A number of outfitters operate from the village, plus fly-fishing lodges for every budget dot the river, which winds from its outlet through the broad muskeg tundra for some 60 miles before emptying into Kvichak Bay about ten miles north of the mouth of the Naknek River.
I'm fishing with Brian Kraft, managing partner of the Orvis-endorsed Alaska Sportsman's Lodge. Brian and his guides have a reputation for putting clients on big 'bows, only today he is more activist than angler. While I fish, he talks, and none of what he has to say can be considered good news.
"You have a convergence of drainages here," he explains. "You have spawning grounds; you have world-class sport fisheries, and you have a very high subsistence-use area. Do you really want to trade that for a mine?"
He's talking about the hills north of Lake Iliamna, which straddle the headwaters of the Nushagak and Kvichak river drainages, the latter hosting the richest sockeye fishery in the world. If it can be mined economically, they may also hold billions of dollars worth of copper, gold and molybdenum. To get at the minerals (worth an estimated $345 to $500 billion at today's commodity prices), a Canadian firm, Northern Dynasty Mines, along with U.K.-based Anglo American, has proposed to build what could become one of the largest metallic sulfide, copper-gold mines in the world, utilizing both open-pit and large-scale underground "block-caving" mining. According to plans submitted by Northern Dynasty to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources in 2006, the Pebble Mine, as the project is known, would require an open-pit mine nearly two miles long, a mile and a half wide and approximately 1,600 feet deep. At least 2.5 billion tons of waste rock and toxic residue from the mining process would be shoveled into two valleys and contained in perpetuity behind huge earthen dams. The largest of these would be more than 700 feet tall and 4.3 miles long, both higher and wider than Three Gorges Dam in China. The tailings storage would destroy up to 20 square miles of habitat. Added to which, the company proposes to withdraw more than 70 million gallons of water per day, nearly three times the amount used in Anchorage, from the Koktuli River in the Nushagak drainage and Upper Talarik Creek in the Kvichak drainage.
In addition to the industrial-scale disturbance of the landscape surrounding Lake Iliamna, mineral-processing chemicals, including cyanide, and the mined minerals themselves can be highly toxic to salmon, trout and even people. Acid-mine drainage, as common as it is difficult to predict and control, poses an extensive threat to resources downstream of metallic sulfide mines. Even in recent years, the mining of metallic sulfide mineral deposits, by both open pit and underground means, has caused significant harm to clean water, fish habitat and regional economies worldwide.
In the Iliamna country, water quality, a flourishing riparian habitat and the local economy are all interrelated. The area hosts the world's largest sockeye run-since 1979, as many as 42 million fish have ascended the Kvichak River in a single season-one of the largest Chinook runs, and Alaska's first designated trophy-trout area, which attracts more wilderness recreation than any other area in the state. All five species of Alaska's Pacific salmon return to the drainage, providing the basis for thriving lodge, guide, outfitter and transporter services, as well as the most productive commercial fishery on Earth. Likewise, the land and water of the Iliamna system, the fish stocks, the myriad wildlife, including the Mulchatna caribou herd, are clearly of great practical, social and cultural value to the area's Native Alaskans-mainly Yup'ik Eskimo, Aleuts and Athabascan Indians-who have inhabited this land for roughly 9,000 years.
"My big worry," Kraft continues, speaking of the potential to irreversibly damage the ecosystem, "is that future generations come to us in ten, twenty or fifty years and say, "How did you let this happen?'"
EVER SINCE TWIN RUSSIAN vessels, the St. Peter and the St. Paul, landed on Alaska's shores in 1741, resource extraction has played a major part in driving the state's economy. The Russians were primarily after fur, but over a hundred and fifty years later another rush to the north was on, this one initiated by a Tagish Athabascan named Skookum Jim Mason, who discovered gold while prospecting along the Klondike River near Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. Since then the revenues derived from mineral, fish, timber and oil extraction have conclusively improved Alaskans' quality of life. Schools, roads, communication networks, water- and sewage-treatment plants-in remote villages especially, these are just some of the benefits Alaskans have derived from the harvest of the state's bountiful resources. Still, many in the state say there are certain lines that cannot be crossed.
"Alaska is a resource-dependent state," explains Anders Gustafson, Sportsmen Outreach Director for the Anchorage-based Renewable Resources Coalition. "Well, fish are a resource. And if we maintain and manage that resource, it will be here forever."
The mission of the Renewable Resources Coalition is to preserve and protect the ongoing viability of Alaska's abundant fishing and hunting resources and the lands and waters they need to survive. The Pebble project and future mines proposed upstream from Bristol Bay could release arsenic, sulfuric acid, cyanide, heavy metals including lead, cadmium, zinc and mercury, and many other toxic pollutants that kill fish and cause human health problems. Spills and leakages that cause short- and long-term damage to aquatic resources are not rare events for the hard-rock mining industry, but are common to these types of operations, where large, toxic tailings ponds are present. And despite carrying an abysmal environmental rap sheet-the industry remains the largest toxic polluter in the U.S., according to the EPA-hard-rock mining is subject to some of the weakest environmental regulations of any major industry in North America.
Gustafson and other members of the coalition believe the risks associated with industrial-scale mining are too great to allow in such a sensitive area-an area that already hosts one functioning industry: fishing. In fact, the threat of Pebble has galvanized support from factions usually accustomed to standing on opposite sides of most debates.
"Historically, we fought amongst ourselves," Gustafson says of the commercial, sport- and subsistence-fishing interests in the area. "But today we all see that no one's going to have the luxury of making those old allocation arguments if we don't have the resource."
Northern Dynasty officials claim the nature of the threat is overblown, that the mine complex will occupy only a fraction of the watershed that supports the fishery and that modern mining techniques will soften its impact. They say fishing and mining can coexist. Opposed are a diverse array of forces, including hunters, sport anglers, commercial fishermen, lodge owners, outdoor retailers and equipment manufacturers, environmentalists and several villages and tribal groups. In 2006 the Bristol Bay Native Association passed a resolution opposing all large-scale mining in the region until studies unequivocally prove there will be no net loss to subsistence, commercial and sport users, or to the region's land, air and water quality. The Alaska Intertribal Council, representing 231 Alaska Native communities, has also registered their opposition to Pebble. Even U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, typically a strong proponent of development in the state, has publicly weighed in against the mine.
"It doesn't take a biologist or an engineer to look at their plans and see that if you bring in the roads, the power lines and everything else a mine of that size needs, you're going to change the area forever, and not necessarily for the better," Gustafson continues. "It's not a question of 'can' or 'if,' it's a question of 'should.' Should we even try to coexist?"
Alaska's fishermen-commercial, sport and subsistence-are noticeably hesitant to countenance any change to such an important, productive fishery. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the 2005 ex-vessel value of all salmon species in Bristol Bay was just over $93 million. During that same year, an estimated $61 million was spent by sport anglers on Bristol Bay fishing trips. Added to that, individuals in Bristol Bay communities on average harvest 2.4 million pounds of salmon per year (315 pounds per person). The economics, opponents of the mine say, just don't wash; for instance, also in 2005, state revenue from the mining industry was approximately 0.7% of the value of the mined resource, with an additional 1% paid to municipalities. State revenue from oil and gas amounts to about 20% of the total production value, while an additional 2% is paid to municipalities. All told, the oil and gas industry pays the state nearly 30 times more for a dollar of Alaskan resources than does the hard-rock mining industry.
Despite this, Gustafson maintains that there's more to think about than just tax revenue.
"I have friends on the other side of this," he explains. "They see an opportunity and I understand that. I just like to think we're looking more long-term. I want my kids to have the same experiences I've had and then say, 'I'm happy he stood up for this.'"
IN 1988, WORKERS FROM Cominco, Inc. made the intital discovery of a low-grade copper-gold-molybdenum ore body at the site now known as Pebble West. Since this ore body outcrops at the surface, and is disseminated as opposed to a vein-structured ore body, it would be mined by open-pit methods. The Pebble East deposit was discovered in 2004 by Northern Dynasty when drilling east of the initial deposit discovery. Because this deposit lies under a thick wedge of unmineralized overburden, it would be mined by the block caving method. Taken together, the Pebble deposits are situated on a drainage divide, with Upper Talarik Creek draining to the east and south and with the North Fork and South Fork Koktuli Rivers draining to the west and southwest. Mining of the ore deposit would result in both an open-pit and underground mine at the headwaters of these watersheds, with the tailings and waste rock stored in two storage facilities located in the South and North Forks of the Koktuli drainage.
According to a report authored by David Chambers, president of the Center for Science in Public Participation, a non-profit corporation that provides technical assistance on mining and water quality to public interest groups and tribal governments, Pebble, because it would involve mining a sulfide deposit in an area with significant surface and ground water, "is likely to have water contamination issues that will require mitigation." This is backed up by the conclusions of Dr. Robert Moran, who has more than 35 years of domestic and international experience in conducting and managing water quality, geochemical and hydrogeologic work. After studying the Pebble plans extensively, Dr. Moran concluded in his own report that "[i]t is inevitable that an operation of this magnitude will have some negative impacts on, as a minimum, the water quality of the surrounding surface and ground waters. I have never seen," he continues, "a comparable metal mine operated, long-term, that has not produced such negative impacts."
Active metal-mine operations routinely release chemicals into the surrounding environment from two general sources-the natural, mineralized rock, and the massive quantities of chemicals that are added and utilized throughout the mining and mineral-processing activities. Chambers, a registered professional geophysicist with fifteen years of management and technical experience in the mineral exploration industry, goes on to explain that part of the danger with a mine like Pebble is not only due to the nature of metallic sulfide mining processes, but also because of the complex hydrology of the area in question.
Block caving, the method that would be utilized to mine Pebble East, is designed to induce collapse in the ore zones-meaning there are no pillars left to support the mine during operation. It's also likely that subsidence-the motion of a surface as it shifts downward-will occur as a result. And again according to Chambers, subsidence at the surface will allow water to enter the underground mine from above, coming in contact with the broken rock that will remain in the mined areas. This rock will be mineralized, and unlike the situation prior to mining, it will now have water and oxygen available to it. This could lead to decomposition of the sulfide minerals, and if a flow path exists to ground and surface waters, movement of contamination off the mine site could be a long-term issue.
Pebble West, on the other hand, is projected to have a pit lake after mining, and pit water can potentially also be impacted by the composition of the rock remaining in the pit walls. As Chambers writes, "If the water in the pit is of poor quality, as a result of decomposition of sulfide minerals, and the hydrology of the site is such that water from the pit can migrate from the pit down-gradient to ground and surface waters, there could potentially be long-term impacts to water off the mine site."
Tailings dams would be built to contain the waste, as has already been noted, and these dams must stand in perpetuity. This is, of course, one of the most seismically-active areas in Alaska. Although, as Chambers notes, the potential for a single catastrophic event is very low, the consequences should one occur are extremely high, as was shown just eight years ago in Romania, when 120,000 tons of toxic waste were spilled from the Baia Mare gold mine into a tributary of the Danube River, contaminating the drinking water of 2.5 million people, killing 1,200 tons of fish and issuing a plume of cyanide that reached 1,600 miles into the Black Sea.
In another independent review, this one commissioned by the Renewable Resources Coalition, hydrologist Geoff Coble of Coble Geophysical Services writes that some of the risks Pebble poses to Bristol Bay salmon habitat are revealed in Northern Dynasty's water-rights application for Upper Talarik Creek.
"In more than 70 places within its water-rights applications," he goes on, discussing the possibility that contaminated water could migrate down-gradient from the tailings storage reservoir, "NDM flatly refused to answer questions posed by DNR about possible impacts the mine might have on coastal areas downstream from its developments." But according to the company's dam applications, it chose the tentative locations for the dams because it believes they are the least environmentally sensitive places in the area to store mining waste. Coble says that's not enough.
"The company's assurances that the risks are minor are not founded on sufficient, sound science," he concludes.
The task of promoting that message has been taken up by numerous groups in Alaska, including both the Renewable Resources Coalition and the Alaska chapter of Trout Unlimited, whose director, Tim Bristol, says that what he fears most is a "slow unraveling of the region's environmental integrity, like we've seen in other places. It's a big sulfide ore body," he explains, "so the potential for passive mine-waste generation-creating sulfuric acid-is high."
In this type of mineral-mining, the disturbed masses of rock are exposed to rain and air for the first time. Sulfides in that rock will react with oxygen to make sulfuric acid. And not only does the acid itself pollute, it also frees heavy metals like copper, cadmium, lead and mercury, which are harmful to people and fish at even low concentrations. The chain reaction can persist for centuries.
"A second major issue," Bristol continues, "is the hydrology of the area; there could be a lot of interconnectedness of the surface and ground waters in the region. Third is the area's active seismic potential."
When added together, Bristol finishes, the project just doesn't make sense. "It's the one mine we've taken a position on in the state of Alaska," he says. "It's just the wrong mine in the wrong place."
THE ENVIRONMENTAL LEGACY of mining in the American west verges towards the tragic. The Mineral Policy Center calculates the damage at half a million abandoned mine sites, 16,000 miles of poisoned streams and 50 billion tons of contaminated waste. The countryside is pockmarked by craters, some visible from space. Entire mountains are ground into dust and doused with cyanide and other chemicals. Cleanup costs are estimated at a minimum of $35 billion. Plus, hard-rock mining companies continue to operate under a law signed into existence by Ulysses S. Grant.
The General Mining Law of 1872 sets the basic rules for mining hard-rock minerals like gold, copper and uranium on public lands. Like the more widely known Homestead Act, which offered free land to anyone willing to farm it, the mining law was intended as an incentive to those willing to push west and settle the frontier. Under a system known as 'patenting,' it allows companies to buy land for a few dollars an acre. However, it requires no royalties from the mining companies and contains no environmental safeguards, even though there's a huge difference between the mines of the late nineteenth century and those operating today. Modern mines are far bigger, and with the ore often high in sulfides, there is the long-term risk of exposure of rock to the weather. But because it's covered by other environmental laws like the Clean Water Act, the mining industry has long argued that it doesn't need special safeguards.
Conspicuously, the Clean Water Act does not mention subsurface water. Moreover, as noted in a recent report from the Government Accountability Office, legal loopholes, corporate shells and weak federal oversight have increased the chances that mining companies could pass the bill for cleaning up to taxpayers. For instance, in the 1990s alone, a small Canadian firm went bankrupt near Deadwood, SD, and left the state's taxpayers with a $40 million tab. The Zortman-Landusky mine will cost Montanans at least $33 million, while in southern Colorado, taxpayers will have to fork out more than $200 million to clean up after yet another Canadian firm went bankrupt, leaving 17 miles of the Alamosa River devoid of fish and most other creatures for about eight years. These are all mines that predicted compliance with water-quality standards before operations began.
Proponents of Pebble predict the same; however, a new, peer-reviewed study of large mines permitted throughout the U.S. in recent years shows that while the process commonly predicts 100% compliance with clean water regulations, the prediction has been wrong in 76% of the cases. In recent testimony to the Alaska Board of Fish, Lance Trasky, former ADF&G Habitat Regional Division Supervisor for Bristol Bay for 26 years, warned that "[i]f mine permitting is allowed to proceed under current state and federal standards - the very large-scale mining of sulfide-based copper ore in the Nushagak and Kvichak drainages will physically destroy thousands of acres of very high-quality spawning and rearing habitat and over time will almost certainly degrade fisheries habitat and fisheries production in downstream portions of these drainages."
Spokesmen for Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Partnership say it's only fair to wait and see, to give them a chance to submit all the necessary permits.
For opponents of the mine, that's not an option, as experts like Dr. Moran explain. Firstly, states depend on mining companies for much of the scientific data about environmental impact, or the money to pay for the studies, primarily because government agencies generally lack the resources to do expensive, in-depth research themselves. And secondly, as Moran points out, the mining companies typically prefer to have all this information remain secret until it's officially filed with the state, leaving those concerned very little time-usually 30 to 90 days-to absorb and then comment upon many thousands of pages of complex information. Travis Rummel, a Colorado-based documentary filmmaker who spent the summer of 2007 in Bristol Bay shooting his new film, Red Gold, also disagrees with the wait-and-see approach, noting that historically at least, the question is moot by that point.
"The permitting process does work-for the industry," he explains. "It's not a yes or no process for them; it's simply yes."
Alaska, as mining advocates are typically happy to point out, has never turned down a large-mine permit.
IN THE YEARS THAT HAVE PASSED since I visited Esquel, they've held 61 additional protest marches. They've taken El Desquite to court and won a legal injunction that will force the company to prepare an environmental impact study and present it in public before proceeding further. Six members of the Esquel Residents' Assembly have even been sued themselves for releasing recordings made of company officials discussing strategies to change the unfavorable attitudes towards the mine.
To date, the mine remains stalled and people like my friend Rolo go on fishing and hiking and skiing.
Eight thousand miles away the debate over Pebble is just getting started. While the two sides spar openly through hugely-expensive media campaigns, the test-drilling continues. In fact, during its 2008 exploration season, which began in February, the Pebble Partnership has announced it will drill 140 holes to obtain rock samples. There are also plans to spend more than $140 million this year, $61 million on the drilling program for Pebble East, about $30 million on engineering and almost $15 million on a public-education program to increase support for the mine. Additionally, eight other companies have asserted mining rights over more than 700 square miles nearby, and the Bureau of Land Management has stated its intentions to open well over one million acres of currently closed lands in Bristol Bay to mineral development.
This potential mining district, straddling the heart of Alaska's richest salmon fishery, has spooked many who would otherwise roundly support development within the state. The late Gov. Jay Hammond, in an interview given just weeks before his death, said that Alaskans need to be wary of giving away some of the quality-of-experience that make traveling within the state so unique. It's the part that's intangible, unquantifiable, and that doesn't come with a monetary value attached, he explained.
"I think there's going to be an inevitable impact," he said. "I think the presence of an enormous mine with a thousand people cluttering about is going to change that experience and alter it in such a manner as to be something that we'll lose forever."
The mining at Pebble, of course, would take place not only in an area that has never seen mining, but also in an area that has very little in the way of transportation or human infrastructure. Whatever the mine's environmental impact, it will be proportionally increased by the infrastructure needed to support the mine-infrastructure that will remain after mining operations cease.
I think about this as Brian Kraft and I conclude our day's fishing on the Kvichak, and I remember: ambience, not wealth. I also know that when people talk about ghost towns, they're talking about mining towns.
That night as I tried to come to grips with all that I'd heard about the proposed Pebble project, combining it with all that I'd learned about the effects of hard-rock mining from my days in Montana and somehow trying to merge that legacy with the pristine water and wilderness just beyond my cabin door, I found myself recalling another night in Argentina. Then Rolo and I were putting away the raft and our fly rods as the sun set across the placid waters of Lago Verde, while our host, a former oil man named Alfredo Zubiri, enjoyed a Cohiba and discussed matters both big and small.
Alfredo, it turned out, was only leasing this property within Los Alerces National Park. At his own expense he'd built a gorgeous lodge and numerous cabins to host his fly-fishing guests, but in another two decades, it would revert back to government ownership. Still, he seemed unperturbed.
"This?" he motioned out towards the mountains and the lake. "This is so beautiful. We cannot possess this."
Naive or not, I asked if he'd get any return on his money.
He used his cigar to wave at the sunset-reflecting lake.
"He was in the polluting business," Rolo helped, "and now he's in the preservation business. This is what they'll remember him for."
For some, that seems to be more than enough. For Alaskans, it already has been for thousands of years. With luck, our legacy will be that we helped make it last for thousands more.
Troy Letherman is the editor of Fish Alaska magazine.