The question is a very valid one. Do we allow an outside company from Delaware, PacRim, to come into our backyard and
destroy an entire ecosystem for profit? Forget the fact that PacRim is an outside company, but why let any company come in
and destroy an entire ecosystem?
PacRim says they’re going to save the genetics of the salmon within the Chuitna Drainage and then create a hatchery to
restock the river. This in turn, will make it “better than it ever was”. This is laughable at best. Unless PacRim plans on
spending billions of dollars, which would negate all of their profit, to repair the hyporheic of the Chuitna, then their words are
empty and just that. Words. Besides, what person prefers hatchery mutants over wild fish?
Salmon are a very important part of our ecosystem, as stated by the Wild Salmon Center;
"Salmon are inseparable from their freshwater and estuarine ecosystems. This is true of all species, but especially true of
salmon. Juvenile salmon and steelhead use the entire river ecosystem, from headwaters to the ocean. They are extremely
sensitive to changes in water quality, trophic webs and upstream perturbations to the river flow, turbidity and temperature.
Juvenile salmonids feed on freshwater invertebrates that are also indicators of water quality. Generally, the more pristine,
diverse and productive the freshwater ecosystem is, the healthier the salmon stocks. Declines in the capacity of a watershed
to grow juvenile salmonids can indicate declining ecosystem health."
To me it is clear as day to deny PacRim, or any company, the right to totally destroy an entire ecosystem. They say that we
are just victims of the “not in my backyard” mentality. You’re damn right not in my backyard. It doesn’t matter if the Chuitna
River was fifteen or fifteen hundred miles away from my home. I still wouldn’t agree with anyone destroying a river so they
can fatten their wallets and provide China with cheap energy.
The coal isn’t cheap energy. Allowing PacRim to destroy the Chuitna River would be taking the potential lives of millions of
salmon, not to mention every other animal that relies on the Chuitna River for their survival. The decisions we make today
impact more than just what happens tomorrow. They will last for generations to come.
For those that haven’t been paying attention, chinook salmon numbers within Cook Inlet are down. The fact that the State of
Alaska is actually considering letting a company come in and destroy 11 miles of a wild salmon river, and an entire
ecosystem, just blows my mind.
It’s time the residents of Alaska make their voices heard. Don’t let politicians who are influenced by lobbyists, and other
outside duplicitous groups, decide what happens within this state. We are Alaskans because we are strong and independent.
But, when it comes to the fate of a river, fishery, livelihood, and an entire ecosystem, then we as Alaskans need to come
together for the common good of our resources. Get out and make your voices heard. Support all of the groups looking to
put an end to this proposed destruction.
Christopher Tobias lives
with his family in Wasilla, Alaska,
and is a Professional Fishing Guide.
Coal or Salmon?
by Christopher Tobias
Copyright 2015 James Marsh
April, 2015 Issue
oal or Salmon? That is the question that many Alaskan’s have been hearing for a few years, but especially as of
late, and for good reason. The question is much deeper than 300 feet below the Chuitna River. If it has no
emotional effect on you, then reading this piece may not sway you one way or the other.