Hello from the fishing grounds!

This time last year began one of the most challenging and yet rewarding fishing seasons of my life.  Working with a film crew on my dads boat for months on end was a great learning curve and growing experience. Since then I’ve gained an even stronger interest in film and decided to start my own video production business, Fox Cape Productions.  I’ve had some great filming opportunities since then and my most exciting project is only just beginning. I’ve recently been contracted out by two fishing companies, one commercial and another sport. In an effort to further build support and stop the Pebble Mine,  I’ve been hired to film and create short videos that help bring a voice to the people and fishermen of Bristol Bay.

The Conflict

For those of you who do not know what Pebble is, the proposed Pebble Mine would be one of the world’s largest open-pit mines –  a 2,000-foot-deep, 2-mile-long gold and copper mine with massive earthen dams ( some 700 feet high and several miles in length) built to hold back over 10 billion tons of mining waste. The mine is valued between 300 and 500 billion dollars and is being proposed by two foreign mining companies from Canada. Roads will be built in what is now a pristine roadless wilderness, and the whole damned nightmare would be smack dab in the middle of a known earthquake zone. Not to mention, this is literally at the headwaters of the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. You see the problem here?

If this mine were to go through, the impact could be catastrophic.  The region of Bristol Bay claims some 14,000 jobs , a $500 million renewable annual resource and well over 60 to 70% of the worlds wild salmon supply are all at risk of being lost forever if this mine were approved. According to New York times the other day, Pebble mine was the second most emailed story. The issue has gone beyond Alaska to be a national and even global issue. If you haven’t seen it, be sure and check out the documentary Red Gold.

The Production

With the help of my video technician/editor, Blake Holmes, we will be producing and piecing together short videos over the next couple week. Look for “Dispatches from Bristol Bay”. So far we have traveled to several locations, some very remote places, filming meetings where the locals, natives, and fishermen have had an opportunity to speak their mind publicly on the issue and appeal to the EPA (environmental protection agency) for help.

Getting cameras mounted on the plane and set for shooting aerials.

Our pilot, Rick Halford, also former Republican state legislator

We were very fortunate to have Rick as our pilot. A well spoken and yet humble man, Rick was a wealth of knowledge and a great resource for our initiative.  We flew from his home outside of Dillingham to Nondolton, a small village that sits at the edge of lake Iliamna and the proposed pebble mine.

 

Reading material for the air. Studying up on the issue.

I read up on the issue as much as I could and did as much preparing as I could before arriving. However, nothing explained the issue as well as the place itself. This is the Last frontier. Every other fishery on the east coast has been fished out and or destroyed by this same thing. People come to Alaska to appreciate what no one else has.

Trying to Imagine a mine here. I can’t.

Seeing it from the air and talking with the people of this land has given me great insight. I have only just started to dig deeper into this issue and am learning a lot as I continue to interview more and more people.  I am thrilled to be here and am having a blast experiencing Alaska and fishing on a new level, from behind the lens. This experience so far has made me appreciate Alaska that much more.

Setting up for an interview

About five too many bags

I can’t say we were the lightest packers this trip. Video production gear can get heavy. Just getting off the ground was a bit sketchy. In fact we took up so much run way to get off the ground I thought we were going to go straight into the lake on take-off. None the less we made it up. Next battle was weather. heading back from Nondalton we got socked in by the clouds and couldn’t see anything. It was very sketchy winding through mountains with almost no visibility. We had to emergency land in a nearby village, Ekwok, where we stayed the night.

Filming EPA hearing in Nondalton

Children of Nondalton

The Anti-pebble sentiment rings loudly. Stickers, banners, posters, are literally seen everywhere. You can’t be in Alaska and not see this. The unity amongst the fishermen and people on this issue shows how important this matter truly is.

Pebble Mine test site

These are very wet and rugged lands.

Getting B-Roll of Dillingham

Happy to be here

  Being able to film and keep involved with fishing right now is what I enjoy doing. It’s a great mix and I’m loving it!

Internet here is scarce and free time is unheard of right now. We are keeping very busy everyday and learning a lot along the way. Will update as often as possible!

  1. Sierra Anderson: Salmon, the Backbone of my Upbringing

    [...] off we went to film and bring to life the voices of Bristol Bay and their feelings toward the Pebble Mine Project. Here are a few pics from our time in [...]

    Reply
  2. vince

    What a valiant direction you have taken Sierra, and I am sure many folks will applaud and appreciate this effort! You have the intelligence, energy, passion and persistence to influence people (voters, EPA, Congress, etc.) and stop the Pebble Mine project. As an Alaska Native that was born in Prince William Sound (known in the lower 48’s as the home of the Exxon Oil spill, not as one of the most rich and beautiful places on this planet) then growing up on the lower Kuskokwim Delta and Kodiak Island, I know fist hand what is at stake.
    While the terms responsible, sustainable and respectful by corporations are the correct intention’s , what we must remember is when the disaster does happen, these same terms in the boardroom transform into responsibility to our shareholders first, sustain our corporation first and respect our hard working executives that made Pebble Mine happen first! That is the corporate model, just look around.
    The risk is far greater than the loss of the largest sockeye salmon run in the world, it is the loss and devastation of the culture of the natives of that region. The prospect of jobs may seem like a compelling argument, but really how many locals will qualify for the high wage engineering and heavy equipment operator jobs? And how many years will they be available? Just look at every industry, including the commercial fishing industry. When the opportunity is big, outsiders move in and when the disaster happens or the opportunity is gone the locals will be left with the mess.
    The very best of luck capturing the voices of those that are directly affected

    Reply
  3. David Luckenbach

    You go girl! I am a professional cameraman working in hollywood and admire your passion. Keep up the good work! Let us know where we can send a check.
    David Luckenbach

    Reply
    • sierraanderson

      Hey David, thank you so much for the kind words and support! I’m flattered to hear that from someone as experienced as you.

      Reply
  4. Gale Lindke

    Hi, so good to get a glimpse of you and what is keeping you busy these days. Great pictures and commentary…. seeing it thru your eyes and the ones most affected by this imposing Monster breathing down on them is most informative. Your impression of the situation is very interesting so keep on sharing whenever possible. Sending love and Blessings, Gramma

    Reply
    • sierraanderson

      Grams!! miss you and thank you for always keeping up and cheering me on. It seriously means a lot. Will try to post more soon! :)

      Reply

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