The US environmental NGO Conservation Fund, in partnership with the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, has secured $20 million (€19 million) in private funding to protect 44,000 acres of Bristol Bay, and in turn block an industrial-scale road needed to complete the massive Pebble Mine project, the groups announced this week.
Alaska Native group Pedro Bay Corporation will retain ownership of the 44,000 acres as part of the agreement.
The Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust (BBHLT), the local land trust that serves this region, holds the conservation easements and is responsible for administering and enforcing the terms of the easements in coordination with the Pedro Bay Corporation.
The fundraising effort took 18 months, with half of the funding provided by The Wyss Foundation, Patagonia’s Holdfast Collective and Alaska Venture Fund. OBI Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Wildtype also contributed funds to the effort.
Bristol Bay is the world’s largest wild salmon fishery. In 2022, the fishery's salmon run was the largest on record at 79 million fish.
Located in the northeastern end of Iliamna Lake, the easements protect critical habitat sockeye salmon and other species, and maintain subsistence uses, traditional activities and cultural resources important to the Pedro Bay Corporation and its shareholders, the groups said.
The easements provide revenue to the corporation and prevent any harmful development threats such as the proposed Pebble Mine.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed blocking the mine under a special agency action, something mine opponents say could permanently doom the project.
In September, the Bristol Bay Defense Fund, a coalition of largely Alaska-based businesses, tribal consortiums, nonprofit groups and community organizations, launched a six-figure television, print, digital and mobile billboard campaign urging the EPA to veto the Pebble Mine project.
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation - $3.9 billion
Bristol Bay Native Corporation - $2.2 billion
NANA - $1.8 billion*
Chenega Corporation-$1.1 billion
Chugach - $783 million
Calista - $723 million
Afognak Native Corporation- $658 million
Cook Inlet Region Inc. - $612 million
Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation-$582 million
Goldbelt Incorporated-$497 million
Bering Straits Native Corporation - $468 million
Koniag - $464 million
Sealaska - $440 million
Ahtna - $324 million
Tyonek Native Corporation-$290 million
Doyon Limited - $283 million
Olgoonik Corporation-$260 million
Aleut Corporation - $232 million
Tanadgusix Corporation-$200 million
Choggiung Limited-$183 million
Cape Fox Corporation-$147 million
Sitnasuak Native Corporation- $146 million
Kuskokwim Corporation-$123 million
Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corporation-$79 million
Gana-A’Yoo Limited-$74 million
Source: Alaska Business Monthly
*Some of NANA's income is dispersed to other Native corporations