Anglers Journal

High Stakes Threat

We’re sitting in an 18-foot skiff at the head of the Kvichak River next to the village of Igiugig, looking out over Lake Iliamna. It’s the beginning of September, and during the summer more than 2 million sockeye salmon swam upstream to lay eggs in and around the lake — one of the most active spawning grounds in the world.

At 77 miles long and 22 miles wide, Iliamna is the largest lake in Alaska, covering 1,600 square miles. Thirty-two major tributaries drain into Lake Iliamna, whose deepest areas reach nearly 1,000 feet. The Kvichak River connects it to Bristol Bay and the ocean.

Brian Kraft owns three lodges in Bristol Bay, including the Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge, a few miles downriver from us on the Kvichak. “The proposed mine site is 48 miles that direction,” he says, pointing across the lake.

Kraft is referring to the Pebble Project, a controversial prospective mine that has garnered national attention for the past 15 years. Many environmental advocacy groups, as well as commercial and recreational fishermen, vehemently oppose the mine because of its potential impact on the salmon fishery; proponents, however, say it will bring jobs

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