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6 ways to keep your habitat healthy this summer

Keeping our habitat healthy is important for salmon, people, and other animals to thrive in the places that we call home. Get outside and get involved in keeping your home healthy this summer. When we take care of wild places, they take care of us too. 

1. Clean up the Coastline and Volunteer at Your Local Wildlife Refuge

Become a steward of healthy habitat through the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies' Kachemak Bay CoastWalk. Volunteers adopt a section of coastline in Kachemak Bay and visit annually each fall to survey changes, collect data, and clean up beach litter and marine debris. CACS is a non-profit, education organization based in Homer, Alaska and has been running this unique program since 1984. Gather your friends and family and head to the coast for a nice walk on the beach, and the chance to contribute to an important legacy of stewardship in Kachemak Bay.

Volunteering at the Wynn Nature Center in Homer, Alaska is a fantastic way to get involved this summer. Volunteers can help out with trail work, cabin maintenance, leading tours and community gardening. The center was a former homestead, and has a network of scenic trails on a small section of their 140 acres of land. Another part of the property is managed as a wildlife refuge and is a migration corridor for moose and black bears. If you are interested in volunteering for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, stop by their office on Smokey Bay Way in Homer and fill out a volunteer form.

 

Photo courtesy of Fish Eye Guy Photography 

2. Help Protect Threatened Salmon Habitat

Salmon are an important source of work, food and tradition in Alaska, and there are many ways you can help protect their habitat this summer. Two of the most urgent issues surrounding wild salmon are the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay and the current mining operations in B.C. impacting transboundary rivers between the Canadian province and the state of Alaska. 

Salmon State is an initiative that collaborates with nonprofits, indigenous governments and other organizations to keep Alaska's wild salmon populations healthy. They are currently supporting campaigns to tackle these two critical issues.

Bristol Bay 

Bristol Bay is home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. The proposed Pebble Mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay puts this incredible fishery and pristine fish and wildlife habitat at serious risk. The region supports a sustainable commercial fishing industry that is valued at 1.5 billion and creates 14,000 jobs. The development of this mine would put in jeopardy the subsistence culture and ways of life of more than 30 Alaska Native Tribes in the Bristol Bay region that rely on salmon. 

The comment period for the draft Environmental Impact Statement for Pebble Mine is now open. This is a critical time to stand up for Bristol Bay, wild salmon, and the communities that depend on clean water and healthy habitat. Below are four actions you can take to help protect Bristol Bay, provided by the Trout Unlimited Alaska Chapter.

1. Submit a comment. The period to comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Pebble Mine is now open until July 1st. This is your chance to tell the lead permitting agency why protecting Bristol Bay is important. Click here to submit.

2. Host a house party for friends and family. Trout Unlimited has a variety of films on Pebble Mine and the importance of protecting Bristol Bay. Host a group, provide some snacks and TU will take care of the rest! You will be supplied with print materials, stickers and talking points so you can stay informed and up to speed on the issues. Contact Meghan.Barker@tu.org for more details. 

3. Contact your elected officials. Let your representatives know why you oppose Pebble Mine. For talking points and more information on the inadequacies of the draft Environmental Impact Statement visit savebristtolbay.org

4. Submit a letter to the editor of your local paper. This is an important way to shed light on the risks that Pebble Mine poses to Bristol Bay. Elected officials pay attention to these types of letters from their constituents, and it can be an effective way to elevate the issue in your own community. Trout Unlimited is available to offer support crafting these letters, reach out to Meghan.Barker@tu.org for some help. 

A message from Salmon Sisters ambassador Lindsay Layland

Salmon Sisters Ambassador Lindsay Layland is a commercial fishermen and the Deputy Director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay. She shed some light on the importance of taking action on threats to salmon this summer: "We all know that Bristol Bay is home to many treasures - from our pristine rivers to our cultural traditions to our abundant salmon runs - it's a land worth protecting. As we're currently in the midst of the final comment period of the federal permitting process for the proposed Pebble Mine, now is the most critical time to ensure that our voices are heard. Alaskans and non-Alaskans alike have the opportunity and responsibility to weigh in on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement of the Pebble project, but only for a limited time; the comment period ends on July 1st. To be a cliche and quote the famous children's author, Dr. Suess, keep in mind this important note: 'Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not.'

Comment now, and check out utbb.org for more information on how to stay involved in the effort to protect Bristol Bay." - Lindsay Layland

Community members of Egegik, AK, posing with a clean water flag.

Lindsay presenting to the community of Perryville and sharing information about the opportunity to weigh in on the current comment period. 

 

Salmon Beyond Borders

The transboundary Taku, Stikine and Unuk rivers flow from British Columbia into the Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska. These important rivers support fishing and visitor economies and remain vital to the indigenous communities that call this region home. These watersheds are threatened by open-pit mines developed at their headwaters in B.C. Salmon Beyond Borders is working to protect this incredible region and all that depends on a clean water and healthy habitat by pushing for robust international protections for these rivers: "Alaska and British Columbia share rivers, salmon, and a way of life. Salmon Beyond Boarders works to establish binding international protections for shared American and B.C. watersheds, fish habitat, and the people and economies that depend on them, ensuring these iconic places remain wild and productive for generations to come." - Salmon State. Pledge your support today. 

Xboundary from Salmon Beyond Borders on Vimeo.

 

3. Nominate a Salmon Story

Alaska is made of salmon. These important fish provide not only a nutritious food source, but shape a way of life for so many Alaskans. Share your salmon tale or nominate a friend or family member for Salmon Life, a storytelling movement facilitated by the Salmon Project

Our Salmon Lives from Element Agency on Vimeo.

 "The Salmon Project is a movement of Alaskans united by our shared connection to salmon. We believe that we can set aside our differences and work together to create an abundant salmon future for Alaska. The movement is built upon your stories, your actions and your Salmon Love." - The Salmon Project

 

4. Volunteer and Attend Events in Your Community 

Find ways to get involved in your local community by reaching out to organizations with a commitment to preserving healthy habitat. Local cleanups and community events are a great way to get your friends and family involved. Stay in the know this summer by following Trout Unlimited Alaska's Facebook Page. Find out what events and volunteer opportunities are happening in your neck of the woods on the Trout Unlimited region specific pages for the Southcentral Alaska Chapter, Kenai Peninsula Chapter and the Tongass Chapter. If you live outside of Alaska, you can find your local Trout Unlimited chapter here

Upcoming events in Anchorage, Alaska:

1. Best Day in the Bay - Come celebrate Bristol Bay and share stories of this incredible region. There will be kid's crafts & fishy fun, beverages and pizza. Saturday, May 11th. 

2. Potter Marsh Discovery Day - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is hosting a discovery day at the Anchorage Costal Wildlife Refuge. Explore birding stations along the boardwalk and hands-on nature activities for kids at this family-friendly event. Saturday, June 1st.

 

5. Use the Whole Fish, Prevent Waste and Maintain Quality

As commercial fishermen and stewards of the resources we depend on, handling our catch with the upmost care is immensely important. Good handling practices help to ensure that higher quality fish makes it to the market, and ultimately the plate so people can enjoy the fresh taste of Alaska's pristine waters. To maintain seafood quality, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute advises bleeding and properly chilling fish, not stepping on your catch, keeping surfaces that come into contact with fish clean and not holding fish by the tail. Learn more about caring for your catch from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Caring for your catch also means using the whole fish and working hard to not let anything go to waste. Susie Jenkins-Brito breaks down how to turn a salmon's underutilized components into something delicious with these creative and resourceful recipes. From the heads, to the roe, skin, bones, fins and guts everything can be put to use. As Susie writes, "Consuming or using each individual part of what is taken is a way of expressing respect, reducing waste, and being closer to our food." Check out the complete recipes from "Salmon in Pieces" in Edible Alaska. 

 

6. Wear a Wild Alaska Cap

We designed this lucky fishing hat in partnership with RepYourWater, a company dedicated to producing top tier gear for anglers and hunters with a strong commitment to conservation and outdoor exploration across the US. For every hat sold, Salmon Sisters contributes 1% of proceeds to our local Trout Unlimited Alaska Chapter, an organization dedicated to keeping Alaska's wild salmon habitat thriving in Bristol Bay, the Susitna River, and the Tongass National Forest. 

Stay tuned! We are releasing two new hats that celebrate, respect and support Alaska's wild salmon habitat this summer.

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