BIG STORES THROW ANTI-MINING SUPPORT TO ‘STAND FOR SALMON’ GROUP
It’s not just the REI Co-op that has gotten political. Now, two major outdoor companies that are frequented by hunters, fishers, and rugged outdoors enthusiasts are getting in on the anti-Pebble mine action.
Bass Pro and Cabela’s, now under the same ownership, sent a letter to customers this month, asking them to donate to a nonprofit organization that the companies would donate to, dollar for dollar.
The nonprofit? The Wild Salmon Center, which is a major funder of Stand for Salmon, a group well-known in Alaska politics.
“There’s no place in the world quite like Bristol Bay, Alaska,” the letter from Bass/Cabela’s reads. “Its rivers are filled with big rainbow and Dolly Varden trout, and it’s home to the largest wild salmon runs in the world — more than 60 million sockeye last year. For sportsmen and women, Bristol Bay rivers are what dreams are made of.
“Unfortunately, this beautiful place is at risk of being damaged forever by large-scale mining projects. The recent earthquake on November 30, 2018 further illustrated the risk of mining and development in this area.”
The letter then asks for a contribution to the Wild Salmon Center during 2019. Because…earthquakes?
The Wild Salmon Center, based in Portland, Ore., features decades-long efforts to preserve salmon habitat in the Northwest and Kamchatka, as well as Alaska. Its website has a pseudo-scientific “technical report” about Pebble, with outdated material referring to past mining plans.
The Alaska senior campaign manager for the Wild Salmon Center is Sam Snyder.
Snyder was the Alaska force behind Ballot Measure 1, which would have halted all manner of development across Alaska. On the Wild Salmon Center’s website, Snyder also takes credit for stopping the Susitna-Watana Dam.
Wild Salmon Center’s IRS-990 forms for 2016 and 2017, indicate the group “Worked with partner organizations to update Alaska’s fish habitat permitting law to strengthen protections for salmon habitat across the state.”
WSC in 2017 took full credit for the ballot initiative, saying it drafted the actual initiative and presented it to then-Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott for review and approval.
The group also took credit for stopping the Susitna-Watana Dam: “Capping a three-year, Wild Salmon Center-led campaign that rallied more than 14,000 Alaskans, Gov. Bill Walker halted the $6 billion project.”
WSC wrote that it developed school curriculum in Alaska: “Advanced the development and implementation of WSC’s comprehensive salmon education curriculum for grades 4-6.” This was a project it developed out of a pilot project it launched in Cordova in 2016.
In other words, the group is now in the public schools, teaching Alaska’s children.
The Wild Salmon Center made grants of at least $600,000 for Stand for Salmon activities in both 2016 and 2017. The year Ballot Measure 1 was on the ballot — 2018 — has not yet been reported by the group to the IRS.
The Stand for Salmon initiative was opposed by resource industries, Alaska Native corporations, labor unions, and others who feared that even a permit to build a driveway to a home would come under undue permitting burdens.
Millions of dollars were spent battling for the votes of Alaskans before the Nov. 6 decision, which went decisively against Stand for Salmon. Now, it appears Stand for Salmon will be the beneficiary of the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s good intentions as the environmental group organizes for the next phase of battling the the Pebble Project: Getting more people to appear at public hearings opposed to the project.
To learn more about the current Pebble Project, visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers site where comments are being collected in response to the draft environmental impact statement.*
The draft environmental impact statement comment period is March 1 through May 31, 2019. Public hearings are also scheduled throughout Alaska. Stand for Salmon will be organizing the opposition.
How do Alaska outdoor enthusiasts feel about Bass and Cabela’s supporting Stand for Salmon through the Wild Salmon Center matching grant? At least one Alaskan was unhappy about it, and forwarded the fundraising letter to Must Read Alaska for review, saying that the message “probably played well in the board room” but was not in tune with Alaskans.
*Must Read Alaska is neutral on the Pebble Project, but favors a fair regulatory and public process.