Archive for the ‘Alaska’ Category

The Making of a Photo: Aurora Over Wrangell Mountains

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
The Making of a Photo: Aurora Over Wrangell Mountains

Michelle and I decided to spend a long weekend at the end of March to get away and scout for locations to shoot for a future workshop, and to find a base of operations for that workshop. Unfortunately, the bed and breakfast we stayed at did not pan out as a potential workshop location – it lacked a central meeting space, had far too few rooms, and was too comingled with family spaces within the structure.

But along the way, we found a few good vantage points to capture the aurora borealis along the Richardson Highway north and south out of Glennallen. The weather forecast looked good for providing us clear skies during the trip, but the question remained as to whether the space weather would cooperate. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), one of my more reliable forecast sources, did not have a good forecast for the time period. So, the only thing to do was to watch the real time data on Spaceweather.com and see if conditions would develop that were favorable to aurora photography.

When we went to bed, I set my alarm to go off once an hour so I could get up and check the Spaceweather data. In each instance, the data did not look conducive to producing an aurora borealis that would be worth shooting. But at 1:00 a.m., which is when the aurora had been “going off” recently, I decided to add a visual check in addition to my look online. I went to the front porch, went outside, and looked north – to see the aurora dancing in the sky. It was a dim display, but I went inside, grabbed the gear, and headed out to a pullout I had scouted earlier.

When I arrived, I set up the camera and took several test shots to check for focus and exposure. Even though the display was dim, I kept taking pictures occasionally to watch for increased activity. In many cases, the aurora can be doing things that are not visible to the naked eye, but will show up on a long exposure. After a while, it built enough to where it was dancing over the St. Elias Range, and spiking with peaks of reds. And while it was a moonless night, the aurora produced enough light to show silhouettes of the trees in the foreground and the mountains in the background.

Nikon D800E, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8, Gitzo tripod, Arca Swiss ballhead, ISO 3200, f/2.8, 10 seconds.

 

When Composites are Necessary

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
When Composites are Necessary

I am not generally opposed to composite photographs, although I have on occasion railed against them. My main problems with composites are (1) when they are not identified in the caption as a composite and (2) when they are used to create an image that could not be seen with the naked eye.

There are many times when composites are necessary. Stitched panoramic photos are technically a composite – they merge several images together into one in order to render a scene using a specific format (the panorama) and also allow the photographer to create a larger file for rendering larger prints. The HDR (high dynamic range) photo is also a composite – merging several images of the same scene but captured at different exposures – in order to render the full dynamic range of a scene. Our eyes can see that dynamic range but cameras cannot. (With the Nikon D800E, I find myself hardly using this technique because of that camera’s dynamic range and my steadfast loyalty to using graduated neutral density filters.)

But there are times when the exposure dynamics of the scene also require a composition in order to capture the image you want. A recent instance involved capturing the eclipsed full moon hovering over a peak in the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage. When you know how to photograph the moon, you know that the moon is a much brighter light source than you think. In order to expose it, you need to have a much shorter exposure to avoid blowing it out. But when you want to capture details in the nighttime landscape, even during an eclipsed full moon, you need a much larger exposure. Thus, to render this scene, I took two exposures – one for the moon and one for the mountain. This is not a HDR composite, because I am not trying to capture a dynamic range of several exposures; rather, I am seeking to balance two specific points in the scene.

Here, when I captured the moon, you could only see a few stars and the mountain lacked detail. When capturing the mountain, the moon is a blown-out, glowing orb with no detail. Separately, they do not work; but together, they capture a scene that I could see with my own eyes. While composites are often abused, this, for me, is a use of the technique that is not only appropriate, but was done regularly in the “old days” of the wet darkroom.

A Tale of Two Senators

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
A Tale of Two Senators

In May 2011, I had the pleasure of traveling to Washington, D.C. with my wife Michelle in order to attend the opening reception for the 2010 Windland Smith Rice International Awards Photo Exhibition, on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. In advance of that trip, I made sure to schedule visits with both of my U.S. Senators – Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski. As part of the scheduling process, I explained to them why I was going to be in the District of Columbia – my winning image in the “Environmental Issues” category of a set of snow-impacted wolf prints on the frozen North Fork of the Koyukuk River in Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, a piece entitled “Wolf Tracks on Ice.” I did not tell them the story of why this image was submitted in the Environmental Issues category – that these wolf tracks were a metaphor for disappearing wolf populations as a result of aggressive predator control measures – because I thought it would be too political for either of their comfort.

As the timing turned out, my visits with both Senators were scheduled for the same day – the day of the reception. I met first with Senator Begich in the late morning. When I arrived, at least three of the staff engaged me and Michelle, asking questions about my award and talking about Alaska. They offered us some coffee and invited us to a tour of the Capitol building following the meeting with Senator Begich. And while we had to wait a little while  – the Senator was off voting on something – they made us feel welcome and continued to engage us. When the Senator arrived, we went into his conference room and sat down with another Alaskan and her family who were visiting. We all sat around the table and chatted a while about why each of us was in D.C. After a while, we each took turns taking photos with the Senator. Following the meeting, as promised, one of the staff took us on a tour of the Capitol building. He even gave us tickets so that we could sit in the galley of the Senate and watch the proceedings. Later, staff visited the Smithsonian to see my photo on display there and even posted it to the Senator’s Facebook page (and they were cognizant and considerate enough to ask my permission to post an image of my photo).

Our meeting with Senator Murkowski was later in the afternoon. We arrived at her office, I identified myself and that I had an appointment with the Senator, and then we sat down in the reception area. We looked at the art on the walls, we looked at what kind of books were on the shelves, what sort of magazines were on the table. Occasionally the receptionist looked up at us, then back to what she was doing. No one asked us questions. No one engaged us. No one offered us something to drink. No one explained to us why we were waiting well past the appointment time with the Senator. As it turned out, she was meeting with a gaggle of lobbyists. After waiting for a while, the door to the inner sanctum opened and out poured a group of five or six lobbyists in suits, chuckling and chatting away with Senator Murkowski as she emerged with them. Parting words and sentiments were shared and they were on their way. Michelle and I were then invited back to join the Senator, we had a brief chat (with little or no discussion of my photo), and took pictures – one set with just me and one with me and Michelle. They only took one shot of each – and the one with Michelle is no good because her eyes were closed. We were then sent on our way. The only follow up to the meeting was delivery of the prints of the photos.

These two experiences understandably left me with a very different perspective on the values, interests and concerns of these two Senators.

These personal interactions highlighting differences between the Senators have also been replicated in a key Alaskan policy issue that is important to me: the fate of the Bristol Bay region. Bristol Bay is an amazing watershed that provides 50% of the world’s sockeye salmon and has been a focus of mine for the last three years, where I have been doing fieldwork for my upcoming book Where Water is Gold: Life and Livelihood in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. When several regional Tribes petitioned the EPA to protect the area under the Clean Water Act, Section 404(c), the people of Alaska waited to see how its U.S. Senators would respond. People pushed Senator Begich to take a stand to protect the Bristol Bay watershed from the development of the Pebble Mine. He delayed, noting that he wanted to wait for the results of the EPA’s scientific watershed assessment (which began in 2011) before taking a position. But once that final watershed assessment was published in January 2014, he came out in opposition to the development of the mine. In contrast, when the final watershed assessment was released, Senator Lisa Murkowski issued a statement asserting that the EPA’s involvement was a “preemptive veto” that would set a “terrible precedent.”

To be clear, however you phrase it, a “preemptive veto” is precisely what the Clean Water Act, Section 404(c) authorizes. Here is Section 404(c) in full:

The Administrator is authorized to prohibit the specification (including the withdrawal of specification) of any defined area as a disposal site, and he is authorized to deny or restrict the use of any defined area for specification (including the withdrawal of specification) as a disposal site, whenever he determines, after notice and opportunity for public hearings, that the discharge of such materials into such area will have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas (including spawning and breeding areas), wildlife, or recreational areas. Before making such determination, the Administrator shall consult with the Secretary. The Administrator shall set forth in writing and make public his findings and his reasons for making any determination under this subsection.

So, the key phrases to notice are “authorized to prohibit” and “deny or restrict” using an area as a disposal site … when the “discharge of such materials” would have an “unacceptable adverse effect on … fishery areas.” The law also requires notice and opportunity for public hearings. The EPA conducted numerous public hearings in 2012 and 2013, and has even given additional notice to the Pebble Limited Partnership of additional public hearings following the release of the final watershed assessment.

Sometime after Senator Murkowski complained that it would be improper for the EPA to issue a “preemptive veto” of the Pebble Mine, someone on her staff must have actually read Section 404(c) and realized that, yes, Congress did authorize the EPA to do such a thing. Well, if Congress has authorized an agency to do a specific thing, how do you stop the agency from doing what Congress has authorized? You get Congress to de-authorize it. Hence, Senator Murkowksi became a co-sponsor of the Orwellian “Regulatory Fairness Act of 2014.” The bill, if passed, would strip the EPA of the specific authority granted in Section 404(c). From 1980 to 2010, the EPA has invoked Section 404(c) only 13 times – 11 times during Republican administrations (Carter’s EPA invoked it once and Obama’s EPA invoked it in 2010). Given that no effort was made to strip the EPA of its Section 404(c) power in its prior uses, it’s clear that the purpose of the “Regulatory Fairness Act” is to ensure the development of the Pebble Mine.

But these are just my own observations, based on personal experience and reflecting on a specific policy choice where I have invested time and energy. Don’t just take my opinion that these two Senators have vastly different world views, take it also from the League of Conservation Voters. On their National Environmental Scorecard, the LCV viewed votes on 13 different bills in the Senate and gave the two Senators very divergent scores. For Senator Begich, both his 2013 score and his lifetime score are 77% – that’s consistency. But for Senator Murkowski, her most recent score was 38%, a dramatic improvement from her lifetime 21% score. In either case, it’s still a failing grade and her votes went against several issues that impact Alaskans – climate change, clean water (no-show on the vote), the confirmation of the EPA Administrator, and subsidizing the oil industry.

And some people say that all Senators are alike.

Correcting yet another inaccurate piece about Alaska

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
Correcting yet another inaccurate piece about Alaska

It’s in all-to-common phenomenon to see articles written about Alaska by people who are not from here. Or, at least, with this one in particular I have to assume the author is not from here because she got so many things wrong.

The piece I am referring to was published in a real estate blog called “Movoto,” and claimed to detail “22 Things You Need to Know About Anchorage Before You Move There.” Setting aside the grammatically challenged approach to capitalizing every word in the headline, as I read the piece, I started seeing some errors. I was going to rebut some of them on a Facebook post where I first learned of the piece, but after further review, found too many to put in a simple Facebook response. Hence, this blog post was born. I will respond only to those specific assertions that were either incomplete, misleading or completely inaccurate.

1. “To State the Obvious, Winter is Really Cold.” Well, duh, Alaska has its cold spots, but it’s all relative. The winters in Anchorage are actually warmer than the winters in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Here, the author also claims you need Carharts and Bunny Boots to get around in the Anchorage winters. But Carharts are not specifically a winter, insulating outdoor wear, they happened to be worn by people who do heavy, dirty work in the winter time. And the temperatures never really get cold enough in Anchorage to warrant wearing Bunny Boots – that is more for the Interior or Brooks Range areas.

2. “Icebergs, Right Ahead! And Left, And Right, And Behind You.” This is hyperbole at its best. There is not a single glacier that is visible with the naked eye from the heart of Anchorage, where the actual city is located (what we call the “Anchorage bowl”). You have to drive about a half an hour south of Anchorage to see them on the Turnagain Arm, or head northeast of town and do some hiking or flying to see any. She also mentions the “massive” Portage Glacier. It has retreated so much it is no longer in contact with Portage Lake, so it’s not massive anymore.  (The photo associated with this part of the article is clearly from Prince William Sound, not anywhere near Anchorage, or even within the massive municipal boundaries.)

3. “You Don’t Need To Know How To Pronounce The Aurora Borealis To Fall In Love.” I do not disagree with this sentiment, but spring temperatures in Anchorage are not “sub zero.” Recent Spring aurora chasing has involved temperatures in the upper 30s, low 40s.

4. “The Parks In Anchorage Are Just A Little Different Than Yours.” In this part, she talks about Kenai Fjords, but fails to mention that access to Kenai Fjords National Park is a two-hour drive south of Anchorage and not even close to its municipal boundaries. Additionally, she asserts that “mountains like Prospect Heights tower up to 8,000 feet high.” There is no mountain called “Prospect Heights” in Alaska. Rather, Prospect Heights is the name of a trailhead connecting with several trails in the Chugach Mountains as part of a fantastic trail system in Chugach State Park in the Anchorage hillside. Additionally, there are no peaks of 8,000 feet elevation in the Anchorage area.  The tallest nearby peaks are  Pioneer Peak (6,398) and Eagle Peak (6,955).

16. “Snowmobiling Means Something Different In Anchorage.” The top thing she should have done here is to advise newcomers that we call it “snowmachining” in Anchorage, not “snowmobiling.” (Out in the Bush, many people call it going out on a “SnowGo” not a snowmachine.)

19. “Moby Dick Is Waiting For You.” Here, the author claims you can whale-watch from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail or out in Kenai Fjords National Park. There is not a single location along the coastal trail that is suitable for whale-watching. Beluga whales are known to come up to the mouth of Ship Creek in the summer as they chase salmon. The starting point to the coastal trail is immediately south of that area, but does not provide a vantage point for watching beluga whales. You may have some chance encounters from the trail near Earthquake Park, but if you are going just for whale watching, it is not a reliable spot. Rather, your best bet is to head south of Anchorage and drive along the Turnagain Arm on the Seward Highway to look for the tell-tale flash of white flesh out in the water with an incoming tide as they chase hooligan in the Spring or salmon in the summer. But rather than taking the two-hour drive to Seward to catch a whale-watching cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park (which I reiterate is not in Anchorage), taking the 45-minute drive to Whittier and catching a whale cruise in Prince William Sound is a much closer option.

A little basic Internet research could have corrected the errors in this piece. I know that I did a lot of research about Anchorage before moving here. I certainly would do as much if I were writing about a place where I didn’t live. And clearly, either the author does not live here or she has not been paying attention.

Wild Anchorage Gallery

Urban Anchorage Gallery

From “Northern Exposure” to “Wild West Alaska”

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014
From

There are countless aspects of the show Northern Exposure that appealed to me, and as I have lived in Alaska for 15 years, I have come to realize that the show understood Alaska. But more than exposing me to the idea of Alaska and its culture and the wonder of the northern lights, it also gave me an idea for a piece of photo equipment I would lust over for years to come.

It was the episode where Holling goes on a “hunting” camping trip (“A-Hunting We Will Go,” Season 3). For decades, Holling had set aside killing animals (through hunting or trapping), and now he only hunted them with a big lens. But rather than drag a tripod out into the backcountry with him, Holling had a lens mount built onto a rifle stock so that he could hand-hold his 300mm lens and have extra stability. I always liked the idea. And as I came more and more to shoot from moving platforms – like canoes or kayaks or boats – I came to long for a rifle stock with a lens mount, fitted with a shutter trigger in the same location where the normal trigger would be found on a rifle.

Over the years, I would occasionally skim through magazines, then through web search engines, looking for something like Holling’s rifle lens mount. But I never could find just what I was looking for. And then, a discussion with some friends drifted to the idea of having one custom made. Since I am not much of a gun owner, I was not aware of where to go for such a thing. Then the suggestion rang out: Wild West Guns, a specialty gun shop in Anchorage.

And before I knew it, not only was I approaching Wild West Guns, but I was roped into their reality TV show, Wild West Alaska, as well. (Not being much of a gun owner, I was not aware of this show, either.)

I won’t tell the whole story of how things unfolded at Wild West Guns. You can see the episode on Animal Planet or for download on Amazon.com. The episode is called “Hell on Wheels.” My only disappointment from the episode is that they did not use a whole interview sequence we shot at Wild West Guns where you can see how I got the idea for the rifle stock. But what Mitch created for me is a complete work of art, performing exactly as how I had envisioned. And like I say on the show, it makes my 500mm lens feel about half the weight, and makes it much easier to hold the lens for longer periods of time.  I also have come away with a higher percentage of sharp images, even for distant subjects.

But, if you follow this blog, you have already seen how my first fieldwork with the new rifle lens mount went. And while I couldn’t say during that original blog post about a trip to Prince William Sound what TV show I was out there for, now you know.

1013-PWS-AK-1272

Mitch and the Animal Planet crew behind my episode of “Wild West Alaska.”

NOAA Nails It!

Monday, February 10th, 2014
NOAA Nails It!

In his opening scene in Twin Peaks, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper said, when referring to the ability of a meteorologist to accurately predict the weather, “If I could get paid that kind of money for being wrong 60% of the time, it would beat working!” We have all at one point in our time complained about an inaccurate weather forecast.  But how often do we praise the weatherman when he gets it right? What about when the Earth weather and space weather forecast is right on? Well, when it leads to an amazing night of aurora borealis photography, some praise is in order.

If you have read my prior blog post on “How to Shoot the Aurora Like a Pro,” then you would know that I subscribe to an email aurora forecast service provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  More than once a day, I will receive a table – like the one indicated in the graphic below – showing the forecast for the next 72 hours.  Since the time table is in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), I have to adjust it for Alaska Standard Time, which means subtracting 8 hours. Thus, according to this table, there was going to be some good action between 4 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. on Friday night, Saturday morning, February 7-8.

NOAA_forecast2-8

Having an idea of what the space weather might do is just part of the planning.  The other part is the Earth weather forecast. For that night, NOAA had forecast that most of the Southcentral Alaska region – from the Kenai Peninsula up through the Matanuska-Susitna Valley – would remain mostly cloudy through the night. However, the forecast did say that for the area north of Talkeetna and through Cantwell, the skies would be clearing in the evening. So, at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, I headed north, with a goal of Broad Pass in the Alaska Range – just a short distance south of Cantwell.

By the time I got to Broad Pass about four hours later, there was still some twilight in the sky.  And, consistent with the NOAA forecast, the skies were completely clear. I drove to the last pullout in the pass before the descent to Cantwell and got out to take a look at the sky. I could already see some pillars of aurora off in the distance, so I composed some images to include the Parks Highway and some nearby trees. But the lights were way to the north, and it was still early (it wasn’t even fully dark yet), so I continued on into Cantwell, and east on the Denali Highway as far as I could go. In the summer, you can drive from Cantwell to Paxon – but in the winter, the road is not maintained and you can only go a few miles before you run into a barricade.  (If you have a snowmachine, though, it’s a great place to go!)

But, consistent with the space weather forecast, when I pulled over and stopped at the end of the maintained area, there they were – the lights of the aurora borealis dancing over the Alaska Range to my north. They danced for a while, then subsided, and then a while later they were calmly dancing overhead and to the south.  Then, they built up and kept going on a crescendo until a sky-filling climax at 11:30 that lasted a half hour.  They still kept going with a gentle, shimmering display for a while after that.

So, let me say, “Thank you very much” to NOAA for a forecast that put me at the right place at the right time to capture some amazing images of the aurora borealis!

 

 

Embracing the Monochromatic

Saturday, February 1st, 2014
Embracing the Monochromatic

It’s been a screwy winter in Alaska, where cloudy days, warm weather and rain has been the norm. Usually, one of the things I love about Alaska is its cold, clear days, where golden light is the all-day norm and alpenglow greets and ends the days. On the rare days so far when it has been cold enough to produce fresh frost or snow, I have enjoyed the opportunity to explore the monochromatic side of winter. My first formal training in photography was in black and white, using Kodak Techpan 2415 and Tri-X Pan film in a wet darkroom. My earlier classes in college trained me in the “Zone System” employed by Ansel Adams, where exposure strategy centered around tones and contrast.  On a grey day, surrounded by varying hues between bright white and dark blacks, I find comfort in exploring my black and white roots. Beauty is in shape, tone and texture, sometimes as much as or more than color.  In our modern, over-saturized, stylized digital photography world, it’s easy to forget that.

Wilderness Forever Semi-Finalist Selections

Friday, January 17th, 2014
Wilderness Forever Semi-Finalist Selections

On September 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. The law would establish the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and create the highest classification of protection for Federal public lands – “wilderness.” It recognized wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” It further defined wilderness – for purposes of the NWPS – as an area “retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions.”

Currently, there are 757 wilderness areas in the NWPS – over 109 million acres in 44 states, totaling only about 5% of the total land area of the United States.  The largest addition of acreage to the national wilderness system came in 1980, with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Then, President Jimmy Carter added over 56 million acres in national park and national wildlife refuge lands to the NWPS. Today, Alaska’s share of wilderness constitutes some 56% of the total acreage of the NWPS.

So, when Nature’s Best Photography magazine announced that it was conducting a photo competition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, I knew I would have an advantage given my own photography of wilderness areas in Alaska. My two chief photography projects in the last six years have involved two wilderness areas: Lake Clark Wilderness and Gates of the Arctic Wilderness. So, when the call came out for submissions to the “Wilderness Forever” competition, I looked to my images from those two areas. Why? Both included some of my most recent wilderness photography work, and they included areas that would not likely be included in submissions by other photographers.

I learned this week that five of my images – three from Lake Clark and two from Gates of the Arctic  – have been selected as semi-finalists in the Wilderness Forever competition. As an interesting side note, the three Lake Clark images were all taken during the same trip to the Twin Lakes region in June 2013, and all of the Gates of the Arctic images were from the same trip in early March 2010. Out of 5,500 submissions, they narrowed down the pool to 300 images in the semi-final round of judging. Winning images will be included in an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.  Here’s hoping for a trip to D.C. for the exhibit opening in September!

Feature in National Parks Magazine

Friday, January 17th, 2014
Feature in National Parks Magazine

In December 1980, in the final days of his administration, President Jimmy Carter signed into law what is commonly known as the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). A work in progress for nearly a decade, since the 1971 passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, ANILCA is perhaps the most significant single piece of conservation legislation in the history of this country. In a post-ANILCA world, Alaska now possesses approximately 70% of all national park lands in the United States and some 85% of national wildlife refuge lands. In a related note, Alaska now possesses some 56% of all lands designated as wilderness in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Aside from creating several entirely new national parks and expanding the boundary of some existing parks, as well as creating several new national wildlife refuges, Title VIII of ANILCA also established a rural subsistence priority for the harvest of fish and wildlife on federal public lands in Alaska. What exactly does that mean? Let’s break that down into a few components.  First, the term “subsistence” refers to a traditional way of life where primary food sources are fished, caught, hunted or gathered – everything from the traditional gillnet harvest of salmon to collecting berries, eggs and edible plants, to the hunting of moose and caribou. Second, Congress indicated that the term “rural” would refer to those smaller communities and remote locations that were places other than the larger urban areas of Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and some other communities. Third, the “priority” would be in place in those times where there is a shortage of the resource and decisions need to be made as to who gets the first (or only) opportunity to harvest – commercial and sport users would have to give way to the subsistence harvest of rural residents. Finally, the “federal public lands” would include most of those new lands created in ANILCA (but exclude the core original parts of some of those existing parks that were expanded, like Denali and Katmai).

In its Winter 2014 issue of National Parks, the National Parks Conservation Association has published an article highlighting the impact of ANILCA on the subsistence way of life for rural Alaskans. I am pleased to note that three of my images, including the opening double-page spread, are included in the article.  All of the images were captured in or near Lake Clark National Park & Preserve and were captured as part of the fieldwork for my upcoming book, “Where Water is Gold: Life and Livelihood in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.”

 

Media coverage of EPA’s final Bristol Bay watershed assessment

Thursday, January 16th, 2014
Media coverage of EPA's final Bristol Bay watershed assessment

Normally, I would use this blog to engage in my own reflections on photography or tell stories about being out in the field.  But, with the release of the EPA’s Final Assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed assessment, I think I will just sit back and reflect on the extensive coverage being offered by other sources.

Before allowing you to examine the coverage yourself, I will add one point of criticism.  I am sick and tired of “He Said, She Said” reporting; that is, when a reporter merely regurgitates what one side says and what the other side says about an issue. This is particularly true regarding the release of this report, where you have an article saying the pro-Pebble side objects to the hypothetical mine scenario and the EPA says is relied on a Northern Dynasty preliminary mine design.  Why the heck don’t these reporters actually look at the Northern Dynasty report for themselves and conduct their own analysis? Grrrr.

 

Bristol Bay salmon: EPA warns of threat from mining

Christian Science Monitor 
A government report indicates a large-scale copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region could have devastating effects on the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery and adversely affect Alaska Natives, whose culture is built around salmon.
 

EPA Says Northern Dynasty Pebble Project May Harm Alaska Salmon

Bloomberg
Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (NDM)’s proposed Pebble copper and gold mine in Alaska may threaten the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency final assessment. Depending on the project’s size and 
 

EPA sees damage to Bristol Bay if mining proceeds Hastings doc requests cost 

Politico 
With help from Darius Dixon, Erica Martinson and Talia Buford. EPA SEES DAMAGE TO BRISTOL BAY IF MINING PROCEEDS: Mining activity in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region has the potential to destroy miles of salmon stream habitat, disrupt Alaska Native 
 

Mine threatens salmon, native cultures: agency

Oman Daily Observer
Large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed poses serious risks to salmon and native cultures in this pristine corner of southwest Alaska, the US Environmental Protection Agency said in a report released on Wednesday. The EPA said a mine could 
 
 

EPA: Huge Alaska mine ‘poses risks’ to Bristol Bay salmon

Seattle Post Intelligencer (blog) 
An enormous open-pit copper and gold mine, proposed near headwaters of two salmon-rich rivers, “poses risks” to Bristol Bay’s half-billion-dollar sockeye salmon fishery, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a final assessment of the proposed 
 

EPA report criticizes Alaska mine plan

Los Angeles Times 
SEATTLE — The largest open-pit mine in North America, proposed for Alaska’s wild and remote Bristol Bay region, would have a devastating effect on the world’s biggest sockeye salmon fishery and the Alaska Natives and fishermen who depend on it, 
 

Alaska mine threatens salmon, native cultures -US agency

Reuters 
VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed poses serious risks to salmon and native cultures in this pristine corner of southwest Alaska, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a report released on Wednesday.
 

EPA Critical of Alaska Pebble Mine Project

Wall Street Journal 
WASHINGTON—The Environmental Protection Agency released its final report Wednesday on the potential effects of a proposed mining operation in Alaska’s Bristol Bay area, saying that the Pebble Mine could have “significant” adverse effects on salmon 
 
 

EPA: Mining would destroy fishery, villages, part of watershed in Alaska’s Bristol 

Washington Post
A large-scale mining operation in Alaska’s Bristol Bay would destroy a significant portion of the watershed, a pristine fishery that supports nearly half the world’s sockeye salmon and dozens of Native villages that have relied on fishing for thousands of years, 
 
 

Alaska’s Bristol Bay Region could be devastated by mining, EPA report finds

The Guardian 
Alaska mining A worker with the Pebble Mine project test drills in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the village of Iliamma, Alaska. Photograph: AL Grillo/AP. A large-scale gold and copper mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region would devastate the world’s 
 

Northern Dynasty Acknowledges Completion of EPA’s Flawed Bristol Bay 

Wall Street Journal
VANCOUVER, Jan. 15, 2014 /CNW/ – Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (TSX: NDM; NYSE MKT: NAK) (“Northern Dynasty” or the “Company”) acknowledges that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released the final version of its Bristol Bay 
 
 

A big test for Obama on the environment

Washington Post
It’s now common knowledge that, with one party in the grip of climate denialism, the best chance for serious action on climate change during Obama’s second term will be using the federal bureaucracy via executive action. The EPA in particular is the key 
 

EPA: Large-scale mining in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region could harm salmon 

Washington Post
JUNEAU, Alaska — EPA: Large-scale mining in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region could harm salmon, Alaska Natives. Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. A worker 
 

1000+ sporting groups and businesses call on the EPA to follow the science and 

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan. 16, 2014 /NEWS.GNOM.ES/ – Yesterday’s release by the Environmental Protection Agency of the final Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment brought praise from a vast coalition of 1,048 sporting groups and businesses opposed to 
 

Grim Picture Painted by Final EPA Assessment of Mining in Bristol Bay

Hatch Magazine 
The long awaited final scientific assessment of the potential impacts from large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska was released earlier this week by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The pictured painted by the assessment is a 
 

EPA: “Alaska Gold” Mine a Threat to Salmon Fisheries

FRONTLINE 
A large-scale copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed area would endanger the world’s largest sockeye salmon fisheries and the Alaska Native communities that depend on them, according to a final assessment released this week by the 
 
 

EPA Says Pebble Mine Could Devastate Bristol Bay Salmon Fishery

Earth Island Journal 
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final study of the impacts of large-scale mining, including the proposed Pebble Mine, on Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The science is clear. Mining the Pebble deposit will have severe and lasting 
 

Pebble mine poses risks to Bristol Bay salmon, EPA concludes

FIS 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its final Bristol Bay Assessment describing potential impacts to salmon and ecological resources from proposed large-scale copper and gold mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The report, titled An 
 
 

EPA: Pebble mine poses significant risk to salmon

Anchorage Daily News 
FILE- In this July 13, 2007 file photo, a worker with the Pebble Mine project test drills in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the village of Iliamma, Alaska. An EPA report indicates a large-scale copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region could have 
 

EPA: Mining Activity in Alaskan Watershed Harmful to Wildlife

National Journal 
An environmental assessment released Wednesday concludes that industrial-scale mining in Alaska’s Bristol Bay Watershed would endanger native species.(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Getty Images). Clare Foran. By Clare Foran · Follow on Twitter.
 

US EPA publishes ‘final chapter in very sad story’ – Northern Dynasty

Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly
TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – The proponent of one of the largest undeveloped minerals resources left in the world, on Thursday said US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) final version of its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA) was “really 
 
 

EPA Critique Of Pebble Copper-Gold Mine Draws Praise, Blame From 

International Business Times
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on a key scientific report that says a potential giant Alaskan copper and gold mine poses serious environmental and ecological threats. Environmentalists hailed the EPA document while industry 
 

Agency concludes mining would hurt Alaskan salmon

AgraNet
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded that Alaskan salmon would suffer if a mine were to be dug in Bristol Bay. There is a large deposit of copper and gold in the Bristol Bay watershed, known as the Pebble Deposit. Northern Dynasty 
 
 

Climate Change Wakes the Dead, Big Blow to Alaska’s Pebble Mine, WV Water 

OnEarth Magazine 
Final assessment: The Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited assessment of the ecological impact of the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay yesterday. Basically, the EPA says the massive pit mine would “erase” up to 94 miles 
 
 

EPA: Pebble Mine Means ‘Long-Term Risk To Salmon, Wildlife, And Native 

ThinkProgress 
This June. 12, 2003 photo provided by the Bureau of Land Management shows a stream flowing through the Bristol Bay, Alaska watershed. CREDIT: AP Photo/Bureau of Land Management. On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency released what 
 

Large-Scale Copper and Gold Mining In Bristol Bay Poses Major Risks, EPA Finds

Bloomberg BNA
Jan. 15 — A large-scale copper and gold mine operation in Bristol Bay, Alaska, poses significant near- and long-term risks to the region, an Environmental Protection Agency assessment released Jan. 15 found. The assessment found large-scale mining 
 

Jewelers, Fisherman Urge EPA to Safeguard Bristol Bay

Rapaport 
RAPAPORT… The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final report on Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, where the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine is located, and concluded that mineral extraction could have a devastating impact on 
 
 

Gold And Copper Mining Plan In Alaska Would Destroy The World’s Largest 

Business Insider 
Sockeye salmon are seen in Bristol Bay, Alaska, in an undated handout picture provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A large-scale gold and copper mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region would devastate the world’s largest salmon fisheries, 
 
 

EPA: Alaska mine threatens salmon, native cultures

The Malay Mail Online
Sockeye salmon are seen in Bristol Bay, Alaska in an undated handout picture provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed poses serious risks to salmon and native cultures in this pristine corner of 
 

Mining could devastate Bristol Bay region

Juneau Empire
In this July 13, 2007 file photo, a worker with the Pebble Mine project test drills in the Bristol Bay region near the village of Iliamma. An EPA report indicates a large-scale copper and gold mine in the Bristol Bay region could have devastating effects on the 
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