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This project was successfully funded on March 25, 2012

Where Water is Gold: Bristol Bay and the Pebble Mine

by Carl Johnson


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There is a vast amount of information available to assist one in making informed decisions about the potential impact of the Pebble Mine on the rich waterways that contribute to the Bristol Bay salmon fishery and support the region’s abundant wildlife.  But that information is widely dispersed and not accessible in one, easily-accessible location.  The goal of this project is to publish a photo essay book that provides that information in one binding.

This project and its book will combine interviews, photos and the extensive science gathered on the area – both from opponents and proponents of the mine – to explore several subjects that will fully inform the reader on how the Bristol Bay region is used and how the Pebble Mine may affect those uses.  In particular, the book will explore the interconnectedness of the waterways that contribute to Bristol Bay, highlighting the particular waterways that would be impacted by the proposed Pebble Mine; the cultural history of the region; the commercial fisheries as reflected in the boat operators, seafood processors, value of the fishery to the state economy and national salmon consumption, and the employment value of the fishery; the subsistence use of the Bristol Bay area for fishing, hunting, and gathering; the recreation use of the area as reflected by fishing lodges and guided hunting; and a detailed background of the exploration of the Pebble prospect, including the Pebble Limited Partnership’s perspective and explanation of how it believes the proposed mine would not hurt the Bristol Bay fishery and would enhance the regional economy.

Most importantly, this project seeks to do what no other photo-essay project has yet done: to provide within one binding the important historical, cultural, scientific, and factual context to discuss the principles of sustainability and responsible development and apply those principles to the proposed Pebble Mine.  The issue of conservation in competition with development is part of the Alaskan identity, was a focus of the debates at the founding of the State, but can no more clearly be found than in the issues associated with the Pebble Mine.  By focusing on what makes the area unique and special, I hope to guide the discussion on the future of the Bristol Bay region as the State and Federal public processes move forward regarding any potential mine development.

With your support of my fieldwork for this project, I will be able to reach remote villages and backcountry locations to photograph the scenery, wildlife, people and lifestyles of the region, and conduct invaluable interviews. Combined with other writers’ contributions, my photography and essays will create a book that will inform any reader on all of the issues surrounding what is perhaps the greatest conservation issue facing Alaska today.  Thank you for your contribution.

Match Funds are not currently available.

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    • March 25, 2012 Carl Johnson Artist

      Wow! Yes, we made it. Thank you everyone for your support of this phase of my fieldwork. With all of my partners who are providing in-kind donations to help cover the costs of fieldwork, this fundraising goal is going to go a long way. I cannot thank USA Projects and everyone who helped by contributing and getting the word out enough. Carl

    • March 25, 2012 Buzz Schwall Artist

      You made it. Way to go. Great project.

    • March 23, 2012 Carl Johnson Artist

      I just had another great day of fieldwork out in the Bristol Bay region on Wednesday. Great weather, gorgeous scenery, a fabulous video and audio support crew, a superb pilot, and lots of wonderful residents in Iliamna and Nondalton made for a productive day of fieldwork. It will take time to sort through the hours of video/audio, 3500 images and notes, but it was all worth it. Next week, a few days in Naknek for more on the winter subsistence lifestyle for Bristol Bay residents. Then in May, I will be in Montana for case studies on open pit metals mines and in Seattle to meet with activists seeking to restore depleted salmon stocks and a restaurateur who is opposed to the Pebble Mine. With your support, I can finish out my spring and early summer fieldwork. But, the fundraising deadline for this window is tomorrow, so please spread the word about this project!

    • March 23, 2012 Zyxomma Community Member

      Carl, why don't you ask for help at The Mudflats?

      • March 24, 2012 Carl Johnson Artist

        Zyxomma, I sent an email to Jeanne to see if they would post something, and have not heard a word. I've tried to reach out to several local activists, and no one is responding or doing anything. Carl