By Paul Moinester
There is something intensely visceral and awe-inspiring about the Chuitna Watershed. Deep pools teeming with wild Pacific salmon pervade the vast landscape. Oversized tracks from grizzlies and moose are omnipresent, creating an eerie feeling as you navigate through fields of fireweed. And the spirit of the native Tyonek people, who have called this land home for millennia, resonates with every flight of an eagle and leap of a salmon.
For the media team privileged to visit this remote Alaskan paradise, the harsh reality that we were experiencing a wilderness slated for destruction proved incomprehensible. Even still, it seems unfathomable that the river we waded could soon be bulldozed to make way for one of the United States’ largest open-pit coal mines and Alaska’s largest coal export terminal.
Above: Chuitna – More Than Salmon On The Line (Trailer). Video: Trip Jennings and Save the Chuitna.
But for the native Tyonek people, hardy homesteaders such as Judy and Larry Heilman, and commercial fishermen like Terry Jorgensen, it is an unfortunate reality they face every day. By a cruel twist of fate, these warm-hearted, frontier Alaskans have been thrust into a fight to protect their homes, livelihood, and salmon from the proposed Chuitna Mine.
Even in this unfortunate era of megaprojects, Chuitna stands out as particularly egregious. Alaska is no stranger to mines, but never has a company had the audacity to propose mining directly through 13.7 miles of a salmon stream. Doing so would not only wipe out some of the world’s best salmon spawning grounds, but it would also establish a dangerous precedent that would endanger hundreds of Alaskan rivers that course through untapped coal fields.
As dire as this news sounds, we have the power and ability to prevent this pristine Alaskan wilderness from being transformed into an industrial wasteland and the coal source powering Asian countries. With a few keystrokes and mouse clicks, you can support the incredible work being done by local groups and residents on the front lines of the fight. Together we can help save the Chuitna.
Join the effort to save the Chuitna by visiting SaveTheChuitna.org, liking the Facebook page or texting “Salmon” to 313131. As the campaign unfolds, you will be notified when it is time to speak up and help save the Chuitna.
Check out our new Spring collection of hats and tees. All designs are printed on premium quality Bella + Canvas All tees in the USA.