Huge Land Purchase Could Be “Nail in the Coffin” for Alaska’s Pebble Mine

Commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay in 2009Christopher S. Miller/Design Pics/Zuma

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.In a major win for conservationists and Alaska Natives, an environmental nonprofit just bought 44,000 acres of land near Bristol Bay, thwarting efforts to build a gold and copper mine that could destroy the world’s most prolific sockeye salmon fishery.
The land purchase is the culmination of years of about 40 years of fighting between the mining industry and the people who cherish the salmon in Bristol Bay—Alaska Natives, environmentalists, commercial fishermen, and even the Republican senators who represent them. The 82-mile road for transporting ore and the potential contamination from the proposed Pebble Mine threatened to destroy the salmon’s habitat. But the purchase of conservation easements on a huge swath of land by the nonprofit the Conservation Fund, first reported by the Washington Post, will protect the area against future developments—including the mining operation’s planned road. 
Tim Troll, executive director of the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, told the Post, “I would say if it’s not the nail in the coffin, it’s just waiting for the last tap of the hammer.”