Submit your comments to the Army Corps of Engineers before July 1, 2019. You can comment as many times as you want about as many different topics as you want. For people who are outside the US and want to make sure you are heard click here.
Here are some things you should say to the Army Corps. You are advocating for the “No Action Alternative.” It is best to use your own words but if you want you can copy and paste this:
Brown bears associated with the Project area are a resource that has high ecological, economic, and social value. Any impact on this resource through implementation of a large-scale mining project would have significant ramifications. The data and analysis provided in the Affected Environment and the Environmental Consequences sections of the DEIS are not adequate to fully understand and evaluate the effects of potential management alternatives on brown bear habitat and populations in this area.
The permit application is woefully incomplete and the Army Corps should not consider it until it addresses the impacts to the bear viewing industry including impacts to McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge, Katmai Park & Preserve, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Kamishak Special Use Area. Study areas should be greatly expanded to encompass home ranges for bears that use the area. The current proposal limits the study area to only within 3 miles of the disturbed areas and is designed specifically to exclude significant numbers of bears that would be impacted by this project.
Substantial impacts on McNeil area brown bears have been ignored in the Army Corps of Engineers Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Even though the Refuge boundary is as close as 250 feet, the Corps of Engineers states “McNeil River State Game Refuge and Sanctuary are outside of the EIS analysis area.”
The so-called “Wildlife Management Plan” should have been required and made available as part of the Draft EIS for public review.
Possible direct effects on bear population:
Increased noise levels from construction might deter bears from coming to McNeil River Falls.
Industrial activity near Amakdedori Beach might affect schooling of salmon or Dolly Varden before they run up Chenik Creek, McNeil River and Mikfik Creek. McNeil bears are known to eat fish in these as well as other stream systems in the area.
Noise from increased large vessel traffic (boats moving product from the terminal at Amakdedori) might affect bear behavior and use of McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge, Katmai National Park and Preserve by bears.
It is likely that there will be increased contact between bears that use McNeil River, Katmai Park & Preserve, and other SOA lands and humans outside of the respective viewing programs that could result in food conditioning of bears or direct mortality of bears by intolerant humans.
The road and resulting traffic would fragment habitat and and bisect a travel corridor potentially deterring bears utilizing McNeil Refuge and Sanctuary, Katmai Park and Preserve, and Kamishak Special Use Area.
Industrial facility in the heart of bear country increases the likelihood of bears becoming food conditioned thus reducing safety for visitors in traditional bear viewing areas.
Disturbance and displacement of bears from increased noise or perturbation of food resources in surrounding areas could diminish the high value visitor experience now associated with McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge, Katmai National Park & Preserve, and Kamishak Special Use Area:
Direct or indirect effects of project on bears would also affect the visitor programs:
Displacement of bears could reduce the number of bears viewed by people, resulting in a diminished viewing experience.
Direct mortality of bears from humans would affect the immediate population of bears using McNeil River, Katmai Park & Preserve, and other SOA lands.
Because the viewing program at McNeil River is structured around consistency of human behavior in the Sanctuary and especially around bears, many bears using the area have become habituated over time. The habituation extends into subsequent generations, as young bears typically follow their mothers’ feeding and home range patterns. Thus, a less immediate though more serious decrease in bears using McNeil River could also be a result of this project.
Contact Senator Murkowski
Let Senator Murkowski know that:
1)The Pebble Partnership and The Army Corps of Engineers’ rush to get these permits issued is unacceptable. This is a huge project with far reaching implications that cannot be studied and addressed in the timeframe that is proposed.
2)The majority of Alaskans oppose this projects. This is the “Wrong place, wrong mine.”
3)There has been ZERO meaningful consideration of what this project means to McNeil River. Let her know how much McNeil means to you
Comment to the Army Corps
You can comment as many times as you like.
Some talking points to consider:
Substantive comments will be considered by the USACE and can contribute to changes in the Final EIS, such as factual corrections and modifications to the alternatives, analyses, and mitigation. Comments that are solution oriented and provide specific examples are more effective than those that simply oppose the proposed project.
In drafting comments on the Draft EIS, try to focus on the purpose and need of the proposed project, the proposed alternatives, the assessment of the environmental impacts of those alternatives, and mitigation to further avoid or minimize impacts.
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Friends of McNeil River is just one group in a coalition fighting the Pebble Mine.