When Seattle was born in the late 1800's, city planners chopped down hills and dumped millions of tons of fill into Elliot bay, erasing the homes, sacred places of worship and livelihood of the Duwamish people who had been living there for thousands of years. We fell most of the old trees and built a robust, but short-lived logging industry for several generations, but annihilated the fragile riparian zones of small streams vital to a breeding salmon. We built hydroelectric dams that were instrumental in crushing Hilter's war machine and helping the Pacific Northwest build one of the strongest and most sustainable economies in the world, but decimated the salmon runs in Washington's great rivers.
While concentrated environmental and economic efforts have saved Pacific Salmon from extinction, they have largely gone from the Northwest and will not likely return in great numbers until the world as we know it ceases to exist. In 2013 the US Department of Commerce declared the Washington Frasier River Sockeye a "disaster fishery" citing a 97% drop in revenue over the previous 5-year average. Last week the Seattle PI reported a sludge pond breach at the Imperial Mines Mount Polly gold and copper pit, which resulted in millions of liters of toxic phosphorus, copper, zinc, cobalt, selenium, arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium flowing into the most prime of Frasier River Salmon spawning beds. I fear this may be a final blow to a dying run and it saddens me beyond tears.
We are empowered to make decisions every day which have an impact on the health of our environment, and subsequently our own well-being. I write these words not because I am paid to, but because something that became very dear to me this summer is under grave and immediate threat and I feel moved to action. Northern Dynasty, a Canadian mining company has proposed the development of one of the largest open pit mines in the world to be located at the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers; two of the eight mighty rivers that make up the Bristol Bay watershed. The environmental threat of building a toxic waste dump in the center of the habitat which sustains one of the last great wild salmon runs on Earth cannot be overstated.
The fight is far from over and needs your support.