The construction of Pebble Mine and its associated infrastructure poses a direct threat to the protection of McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and the world’s largest seasonal congregation of brown bears
Currently, the Pebble Project has said there will be “no impact” to the area. The Army Corps of Engineers needs to be made aware of the impact this construction would have on the bears of McNeil River and the remote, contiguous habitat upon which these bears depend.
McNeil River is the only place like it on the planet and has been managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for 50 years.
McNeil River originates from glaciers and alpine lakes located high in the mountains of the Aleutian Range. As the river makes it way toward the shores of lower Cook Inlet in southwestern Alaska, it provides sustenance to an array of wildlife, most visibly salmon and brown bears. The Alaska State Legislature designated the McNeil River area as a wildlife sanctuary in 1967 (and enlarged it in 1993) to protect the world’s largest congregation of wild brown bears. As many as 144 individual bears have been observed at McNeil River through the summer. A new milestone, set a few years ago, was 80 bears in view AT ONE TIME.
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Preservation of these wildlife habitats and the unique brown bear concentration is the primary management goal of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game at the McNeil River Sanctuary. This means that all human activities must be compatible with this primary management goal.
The primary management goal of ADFG at the McNeil River Sanctuary is the fulfillment of the 1967 mandate:
The Sanctuary was established by the Alaska legislature in 1967. In 1991, the legislature expanded the sanctuary and established the McNeil River State Game Refuge. Both the sanctuary and refuge were established for these purposes:
- The permanent protection of brown bear and other fish and wildlife populations and their habitats for scientific, aesthetic, and educational purposes;
- To manage human use and activities in a way that is compatible with that purpose and to maintain and enhance unique bear viewing opportunities in the sanctuary;
Pebble Mine and its infrastructure, the deep water port at Amakdedori and the two-lane road from Amakdedori to Lake Iliamna, are in direct violation of the mandate legislating McNeil River State Game Sanctuary in 1967, and the Refuge in 1991.