Fulfilling President Biden’s commitment to conserve and restore some of America’s most cherished public lands and waters, over the past week the Biden-Harris Administration announced a series of major actions to advance conservation, combat climate change, honor Tribal Nations, and support local economies.

The Administration finalized protections for three unique ecosystems:

  • Tongass National Forest: The U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized roadless protections for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, an area of immense cultural significance for Alaska Native peoples. At 16.7 million acres, the Tongass represents the largest intact tract of coastal temperate rainforest on earth and is critical for carbon sequestration to help mitigate climate change.
  • Boundary Waters Area Watershed: The U.S. Department of the Interior took action to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and surrounding watershed, a spectacular network of rivers, lakes and forests in northeastern Minnesota that comprise the most heavily visited wilderness area in the United States.  
  • Bristol Bay Salmon Fisheries: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted to help protect Bristol Bay, the most productive wild salmon ecosystem in the world. This step protects certain waters that are important to sustaining southwest Alaska’s salmon resources from contamination associated with developing the Pebble deposit.

These actions advance the President’s America the Beautiful Initiative, which supports locally-led conservation efforts across the nation.

Leaders from across the country praised the announcements. Here’s what they’re saying:

Tongass National Forest

Joel Jackson, President, Organized Village of Kake: “The Tongass Roadless Rule is important to everyone. The old-growth timber is a carbon sink, one of the best in the world. It’s important to OUR WAY OF LIFE — the streams, salmon, deer, and all the forest animals and plants.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Gloria Burns, Vice President, Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council: “The Tongass National Forest has provided for the people of this land since time immemorial and in many ways, the forest is the lungs of the world. The reinstatement of the Roadless Rule is an important step. I come from a family of weavers and we rely culturally, spiritually, and economically on a thriving and healthy old growth forest.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Linda Behnken, Executive Director, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association: “We are thrilled and relieved to know the Tongass’ remaining unroaded areas will remain intact vibrant forests for generations to come. Our fisheries depend on healthy habitat, and with climate change driving ocean warming, protecting habitat is increasingly important to the fish, the fisheries, and the coastal fishing communities. This is welcome news!” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Adam Cramer, CEO, Outdoor Alliance: “The Tongass National Forest is an extraordinarily important landscape, not just for its recreation opportunities, but for its profound contribution to fighting climate change, protecting biodiversity, and its importance to local Tribes. We are cheered and relieved to see today’s announcement, and grateful for the administration’s ongoing commitment to conservation.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Tiernan Sittenfeld, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, League of Conservation Voters: “We are thrilled that the Biden-Harris administration restored the Roadless Rule in the Tongass – the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest. Reinstating protections for 9 million acres in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest will ensure that this natural wonder, massive carbon sink, and crucial resource for many Alaskan communities remains intact and protected.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Meda DeWitt, Alaska Senior Specialist, The Wilderness Society: “Through the leadership of the Indigenous peoples of Southeast Alaska, we have made our voices heard and will see over 9 million acres of ancestral homeland and invaluable old-growth forest protected from harmful development.”[Statement, 1/25/23]

Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network: “After years of collective advocacy, we are celebrating this decision to protect the Tongass Rainforest and our global climate. Old-growth and mature forests are vital to climate mitigation, and we must take action to support protection of all old-growth forests like the Tongass, while we particularly listen to the leadership of Indigenous peoples when their forest homelands and territories are under attack. We look forward to the Tongass remaining protected for current and future generations, and to uplifting Indigenous leadership.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Wanda Culp, Tongass Coordinator, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network: “The Tongass Forest is homeland to countless indigenous family species, intertwined as strong and delicate as a spider’s circular web. The Tongass National Forest in Alaska is a national treasure, stored wealth, as is each of America’s Public Forests. They should always be handled as the treasures they are — cherished and saved to enable our future generations to breathe fresh air. To BREATHE FREELY!” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Abby Tinsley, Vice President for Conservation Policy, National Wildlife Federation: “The Tongass encompasses significant Indigenous sites, important wildlife habitat, endless outdoor recreation opportunities, and critical commercial fisheries. In addition, it plays a vital role in safeguarding clean drinking water and storing carbon. We applaud the Biden Administration for listening to the diverse coalition of Indigenous and local leaders, commercial fisherman, outdoor recreationists, and conservationists who spoke up demanding that Roadless Rule protections be reinstated for this national treasure.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership: “Tongass National Forest safeguards have long been a TRCP priority because of the benefits they provide to continued hunting and fishing opportunities in the region. We appreciate USDA prioritizing sustainable forest management practices that will result in productive habitats, improved recreational opportunities, and more resilient communities.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Maranda Hamme, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council: “Finalizing the Roadless Rule, paired with the USDA’s Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy announced in 2021, are huge steps forward in supporting sustainable economic growth, community development, and irreplaceable wildlife habitat and salmon streams for the Tongass and Southeast Alaska altogether.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Andy Moderow, Alaska Director, Alaska Wilderness League: “We applaud today’s announcement, because it recognizes that Southeast Alaska’s future is rooted in sustainable uses of the forest. The Roadless Rule protects Tongass old-growth while also providing flexibility for community access, hydropower projects, utility connectors and other economic development projects when they serve a legitimate public interest.  This decision puts public lands and people first, and we are grateful for the action.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Wild Heritage: “The Tongass’ towering old-growth rainforests are tops among all national forests, and its roadless areas are 16% of the nation’s total. Even more impressive is this single national forest, the nation’s largest, stores the equivalent of 20% of all the carbon in the entire national forest system, making it North America’s best nature-based climate solution. What a glorious decision for Alaskans and all those that care about a safe climate and our natural legacy.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Dyani Chapman, Director, Alaska Environment Research and Policy Center State: “The restoration of the Roadless Rule is a win for Alaskans. Commercial fishermen, local Indigenous communities, tourism operators and environmentalists have all worked to restore protections to the forest. When intact, the Tongass is a complex web of life. Clear cuts put a fist through that web, and roads slice it into pieces. The roadless area allows the thousands of people that live in and around the Tongass to access intact forest to hike, kayak, hunt, fish and forage.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Chris Hill, Our Wild America Campaign Senior Director, Sierra Club: “The Tongass is often referred to as ‘our nation’s climate forest’ for its ability to store carbon and protect us from the worst impacts of climate change. Thanks to today’s reinstatement of the Roadless Rule in Alaska, millions of acres of this valuable ecosystem will once again be protected – as will its supply of clean water, critical wildlife habitat, and carbon stores. We are proud to stand with Indigenous leaders and local Alaskans who have been championing the effort to restore these critical protections for the Tongass.”[Statement, 1/25/23]

Kate Glover, Senior Attorney, Earthjustice: “We applaud the Forest Service for making good on its commitment to tribes and to the climate by restoring the Roadless Rule across the Tongass. This is great news for the forest, the salmon, the wildlife, and the people who depend on intact ecosystems to support their ways of life and livelihoods.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Garett Rose, Staff Attorney, Alaska Project, National Resources Defense Council: “The Forest Service deserves a lot of praise for today’s move. The region’s Native peoples depend on this vast wildland, and the public overwhelmingly wants it protected. The Tongass is a refuge for animals that are endangered in other places, not to mention five species of salmon. We need to keep old-growth forests like these intact all around the globe—and soon—to sharply reduce carbon emissions.” [Statement, 1/25/23]

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell: “This is phenomenal news for one of the world’s last great remaining temperate forests. The Tongass’ pristine forestlands are an enduring gift to the Pacific Northwest that supports thousands of regional tourism and fishing jobs. The salmon runs, recreational appeal, and irreplaceable carbon storage the Tongass currently provides will always be more valuable to our communities than any subsidized logging projects.” [Tweet, 1/26/23]

Washington Senator Patty Murray: “Reversing the dangerous & irresponsible Trump Administration rule that stripped away protections for Tongass National Forest is absolutely the right move to protect our natural resources, preserve critical salmon habitat, keep our air clean, and more.” [Tweet, 1/26/23]

California Congressman Mike Levin: “The Tongass is America’s carbon sink champion and must be protected as part of any climate solutions strategy. I support the @ForestService in restoring roadless protections on the Tongass and working with Indigenous leaders and local communities to #ProtectTheTongass.” [Tweet, 1/30/23]

Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum: “More good #PublicLands news from last week: The @ForestService is restoring roadless protections in the Tongass, North America’s largest rainforest, which will help combat climate change and finally put an end to large-scale logging of old-growth forests. #ProtectTheTongass” [Tweet, 1/28/23]

Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego: “The Tongass National Forest is the lungs of our country—its health is critical if we want to breathe clean air. For the last 5 years, I’ve led the charge to keep the forest alive, and I’m excited the @forestservice is protecting it from road building and logging.” [Tweet, 1/26/23]

Washington Congressman Derek Kilmer: “The Tongass National Forest is ‘America’s Amazon’ – it holds more biomass per acre than any other rainforest and stores more carbon than any other national forest. I support the @ForestService in restoring roadless protections to #ProtectTheTongass.” [Tweet, 1/30/23]

California Congressman Jared Huffman: “Excellent move by @ForestService! The Tongass is key to conserving biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis. It absolutely needs to be protected. #ProtectTheTongass” [Tweet, 1/26/23]

Boundary Waters Area Watershed

Piper and Lola Jensen, ages 11 & 13, Kids for the Boundary Waters: “We are so grateful to Secretary Haaland for protecting the Boundary Waters. It is a remarkable wilderness that harbors so much peace, serenity and amazing experiences. It’s so important that we preserve the Boundary Waters for this generation and for all future generations. This is an important step forward! Your support of this cause inspires me. It proves that the voices of kids like me can be heard by important people like you. I love the Boundary Waters because it is so beautiful and so pristine. You can experience the best of all seasons and all weather in the Boundary Waters. Each day is a new adventure with new paths. Thank you again for recognizing the importance of the Boundary Waters. What you have done is awesome and I appreciate it so much.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Becky Rom, National Chair, Save the Boundary Waters: “Today’s science-based decision is a massive win for Boundary Waters protection. You don’t allow America’s most toxic industry next to America’s most popular Wilderness. The Boundary Waters is a paradise of woods and water. It is an ecological marvel, a world-class outdoor destination, and an economic engine for hundreds of businesses and many thousands of people. This decision moves America ever closer to permanently protecting this beloved Wilderness.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Lukas Leaf, Executive Director, Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters: “Across the country, the significance of the historic decision by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to implement 20-year protections for the Boundary Waters is being celebrated. Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters would like to express our deepest gratitude to this Administration for its leadership in protecting the BWCA from sulfide-ore copper mining.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Paul Austin, Executive Director, Conservation Minnesota: “This is great news for the Boundary Waters and for all Minnesotans who cherish it. It only makes sense to protect our nation’s most visited wilderness similar to other national treasures like Yellowstone National Park and The Grand Canyon.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Nicole Rom, Executive Director, The Conservation Alliance: “Protecting the Boundary Waters’ recreational opportunities and wild nature has been a top priority for our 270 member companies at The Conservation Alliance. As a life-long Boundary Waters enthusiast, I’ve grown up experiencing the wilderness character unique to this special place, from paddling the waters in the BWCA to skiing its frozen lakes. My family has called the region home for several generations and I have witnessed first-hand over the past 30 years distinct changes to seasonal weather patterns, snowfall, increased fires and the arrival of deciduous trees into the boreal forest ecosystem as a result of climate change. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is vital to providing climate stability, biodiversity and outdoor recreation and deserves permanent protection.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

John Rust, Minnesota Division President, and Scott Kovarovics, Executive Director, Izaak Walton League of America: “The Izaak Walton League fully supports Secretary Haaland’s decision to order a 20 year mineral withdrawal to protect the Boundary Waters from the threat of copper-nickel mining. The Izaak Walton League has worked to protect this treasured resource since the 1920s. We’ve long known that the present resource use (Wilderness) is the highest and best use of these fragile public lands and waters. With its action today, the Department of the Interior is fulfilling its responsibilities as trustee of these resources so vital to protecting fish and wildlife, clean water and the outdoor recreation economy in this unique ‘canoe country’ wilderness.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Collin O’Mara, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation: “The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is one of the most magnificent landscapes in America and provides outstanding habitat for moose, bear, otters, lynx, wolves, and hundreds of species of birds. Allowing sulfide-ore mining in the ‘crown jewel of Up North’ would be devastating to the hundreds of wildlife species that make their home in the pristine watershed and would have threatened a billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy that supports 17,000 jobs. Secretary Deb Haaland’s decision is one that future generations will look back upon with gratitude.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society: “The Wilderness Society is thrilled to celebrate this victory for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the people who love this special place. The Interior Department’s decision to finalize a 20-year mining moratorium recognizes the importance of safeguarding the Boundary Waters from pollution associated with extractive development, mitigating the extinction crisis, and helping to achieve the Biden administration’s America The Beautiful conservation goals. The movement to protect the Boundary Waters is truly a locally led initiative, and we are grateful for the thousands of Minnesotans who made their voices heard and said ‘no way’ to toxic mining at the doorstep of this national treasure.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Land Tawney, CEO, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: “The time I’ve spent in the Boundary Waters – especially with my family by my side – are memories I deeply cherish. Today’s decision by this administration to protect these unique public lands and waters will not only conserve an irreplaceable landscape; it also will ensure that experiences like mine will be possible for all Americans and their families to enjoy, forever.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Athan Manuel, Director of Lands Protection Program, Sierra Club: “Boundary Waters is a unique piece of our nation’s natural legacy, and we thank Secretary Haaland for her decision today to protect this iconic wilderness area from toxic pollution caused by sulfide-ore copper mining. As the climate crisis threatens our water, lands, and wildlife for the next generation, we must prioritize conserving natural places and resources that our communities rely on for a sustainable future.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Ellen Montgomery, Public Lands Campaign Director, Environment America: “This is an amazing victory for the Boundary Waters, the wildlife that live there and the current and future generations who will be able to canoe and kayak on clean water. Mines, which can produce toxic pollution from leaks, spills and tailings, will never have a place in this pristine area. We’re delighted that Secretary Haaland has acted to protect the Boundary Waters, ensuring this incredible ecosystem is protected for at least the next 20 years.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Blaine Miller-McFeeley, Senior Legislative Representative, Earthjustice: “This is a big victory for people and for climate. The interconnected lakes, rivers, and wetlands of the Boundary Waters provide a refuge for threatened species, support wild rice beds, and sustain the local economy. We are thankful to each of the advocates, business leaders, and Tribal Nations who raised their voice, and we’re grateful to this administration for flexing its muscle to prevent this pristine and singular ecosystem from becoming just another casualty of the toxic mining industry.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Bobby McEnaney, Director, Natural Resources Defense Council: “This smart move will benefit generations to come by helping to protect America’s most visited wilderness area from the unnecessary expansion of new mining in the Boundary Waters. The Biden Administration recognizes that we simply can’t allow this kind of unacceptable threat to the natural beauty and integrity of this ecosystem and the viability of the area’s outdoor economy.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Tiernan Sittenfeld, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, League of Conservation Voters: “We applaud the Biden administration’s decision to keep this toxic industry away from our most visited Wilderness. This action is overwhelmingly supported by Minnesotans and furthers the administration’s America the Beautiful conservation goals while laying groundwork for efforts to ensure this pristine wilderness is permanently protected.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Whit Fosburg, President and CEO, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership: “The TRCP applauds the administration’s decision to safeguard the Rainy River watershed from mining for the coming two decades, and we will continue to work to conserve the Boundary Waters permanently. This world-class fishing, hunting, and canoeing destination has provided generations of Americans with important outdoor experiences, and today’s decision will support future opportunities.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Amy Kober, Vice President for Communications, American Rivers: “We have named the Kawishiwi River and the Boundary Waters among America’s Most Endangered Rivers for multiple years because mining poses an unacceptable threat. Clean water is essential to life and the future of this national treasure. It’s time to protect the Boundary Waters from mining, and take it off the ‘Most Endangered’ list once and for all.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Christina Hausman Rhode, Executive Director, Voyageurs Conservancy: “We thank Secretary Haaland for protecting the BWCAW and Voyageurs National Park, a region that epitomizes the unique outdoor heritage of Minnesota. Voyageurs encompasses a vast system of interconnected waterways first traveled by the Ojibwe and other Indigenous peoples, and then European Voyageurs, and today is enjoyed every year by over 240,000 anglers, kayakers, houseboaters and more. This decision recognizes the importance of protecting these habitats and the outdoor recreation economy they support.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Hans Cole, Head of Environmental Grants, Campaigns, and Activism, Patagonia: “Bottom line, sulfide ore copper mining proposed on the edge of the Boundary Waters presents a deadly threat to everything that makes this area unique: it’s a wild place with world-class qualities, a beloved destination for fishing, hunting, camping, paddling and hiking, and a thriving local and regional outdoor recreation economy that relies on a pristine wilderness. The only way to ensure that our kids and future generations have the opportunities to experience what so many of us have enjoyed is this:  we must work together to protect the clean water, lakes and interconnected waterways of the Boundary Waters, forever.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Taldi Harrison, Head of Government Affairs, REI Co-op: “The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a national treasure and REI applauds Secretary Haaland’s recent decision to protect it from mining activities. BWCAW’s expansive network of waterways, forests and thousands of lakes provide unmatched recreational experiences for thousands of visitors who come to camp, canoe, hike, and more. The region is also essential for tribal communities connected to this special place to harvest their rice, fish, and exercise their treaty rights. At REI, we remain steadfast in our mission to connect every person to the power of the outdoors and engage them in the fight to protect it. Ensuring that every person can enjoy the Boundary Waters requires us to protect it from harmful activities and fulfill our responsibility to future generations to preserve its irreplaceable landscape.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Eric Raymond, Director of Advocacy, The North Face: “The Boundary Waters is one of the most popular wilderness areas in the country. For people across the Midwest and beyond, the North is a treasured place to soak in the benefits of outdoor exploration. We are thankful for the Administration’s efforts to protect the Boundary Waters and the surrounding communities and ecosystems.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Adam Cramer, CEO, Outdoor Alliance: “We are thrilled to see Secretary Haaland’s decision to withdraw the Boundary Waters region from mining for the next 20 years. The Boundary Waters is one of the country’s crown jewels for outdoor recreation, with famed flatwater paddling, hiking, and fishing. These protections are a big step, both for the Boundary Waters itself, and for building momentum for natural climate solutions, more outdoor access, and broader protections for biodiversity.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Kent Ebersole, Interim Executive Director, Outdoor Industry Association: “We are thrilled to see the Biden administration continue to champion the protection of public lands which are integral to the economic success of the $862 billion outdoor industry. Preserving outdoor spaces like the Boundary Waters – which are a cornerstone to local economies and traditions in the region – is a continuing investment in the physical, mental, and economic well-being of all Americans.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum: “ICYMI: Sulfide-ore copper mining pollution will not impact the Boundary Waters for at least the next 20 years! I’ll keep fighting to #SaveTheseWaters because this national treasure belongs to all of us – and it deserves *permanent* protection.” [Tweet, 1/29/23]

Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar: “Huge and welcome news! The boundary waters wilderness is the most visited wilderness area in the country and should not be handed over to polluters. Thank you @RepDebHaaland for this action and to leaders like @BettyMcCollum04 for your tireless advocacy on this issue.” [Tweet, 1/26/23]

Mark Dayton, Former Minnesota Governor and Senator: “We inherited this pristine wilderness from previous generations of Minnesotans, who bequeathed it to us to benefit not only ourselves, but also our children, our grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren. Now it is our responsibility to protect this fragile ecosystem from those who would exploit it for their own selfish purposes.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Al Franken, Former Minnesota Senator: “I’ve been going to the Boundary Waters since I was a teenager and have returned throughout my life to experience its beauty, serenity, and walleyes. As a Senator, I was privileged to hear all sides of issues of importance to Minnesotans. I understand the desire and need for more economic activity on the Iron Range. But I have come to the conclusion that copper-nickel mining does not belong anywhere near this unbelievably precious wilderness area that is visited by almost a quarter million people a year. It is a treasure and one of the economic drivers of Northern Minnesota.” [Statement, 1/26/23]

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey: “Thank you @SecDebHaaland for taking this important step to ban mining for 20 years in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters and keep pollution out of this natural wonder. Let’s keep moving forward toward a sustainable, healthy future.” [Tweet, 1/30/23]

New Mexico Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury: “As a cosponsor of the Boundary Waters Protection Act, I want to thank @SecDebHaaland for announcing administrative protections for this special landscape. We must protect our lands & waters for our communities to enjoy for generations to come.” [Tweet, 1/30/23]

Bristol Bay Watershed

Alannah Hurley, Executive Director, United Tribes of Bristol Bay: “Under President Biden, the EPA has not only restored its commitment to science and law but truly listened to the original stewards and first peoples’ of this land. Ignored by our own state government, our Tribes petitioned the EPA 13 years ago to use its 404(c) authority to protect Bristol Bay, to protect our people. Today, these Clean Water Act protections provide certainty that Pebble cannot be built in Bristol Bay. On behalf of UTBB, I’d like to say quyana, chin’an, thank you to the EPA and the Biden Administration not just for this decision, but for working throughout this 404(c) process to consult with our Tribes. EPA’s action today helps us build the future where our people can remain Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Alutiiq for generations to come.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Katherine Carscallen, Director, Commercial Fisherman for Bristol Bay: “For the first time in two decades, our fishermen will head out on the water this fishing season without the existential threat of Pebble Mine looming just up-river. Thousands of small fishing businesses, and industry members are thanking the Biden administration and the Environmental Protection Agency for finalizing Clean Water Act protections which recognize the importance of Bristol Bay, its record-breaking salmon runs, and the irreplaceable sustainable jobs it supports.” [Statement, 1/31/23] 

Tim Bristol, Executive Director, SalmonState: “The Environmental Protection Agency’s Final Determination is a landmark conservation decision that will protect Bristol Bay for generations to come. This hard-won victory would not have been possible without the perseverance of the Tribes, commercial and sport fishers, conservation groups, and others who never gave up fighting to ensure the longevity of the fishery in Bristol Bay and the cultures, community, and economy it supports. Thanks to the Biden administration and leaders like EPA Region 10 Administrator Sixkiller and EPA Administrator Regan, one of the world’s most pristine watersheds and profitable wild salmon fishery will receive the durable, long-lasting protections it deserves.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Ivy Spohnloz, Alaska State Director, The Nature Conservancy: “We are thrilled with the EPA’s finding and thank the thousands of people in Alaska and around the country who participated in the public process that led to this result, including more than 31,000 TNC supporters. A ‘no’ on the Pebble Mine is a ‘yes’ to letting local communities decide what’s best for them and a ‘yes’ to preserving some of the last wild salmon runs on earth. The residents of Bristol Bay have worked together to oppose this mine for more than 20 years, and today marks a major milestone in that long journey. With today’s final determination from the EPA, local leaders in Bristol Bay can now begin building for the future of Bristol Bay rather than fighting against a mine they don’t want.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Kevin Fraley, Alaska Board Member, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: “To Alaskans and visitors alike, the Bristol Bay region is considered one of the world’s top destinations for hunting and fishing. Additionally, for thousands of years, the annual returns of salmon have been the foundation of Alaska Native culture and lifestyle in the region. Bristol Bay salmon provide a flood of nutrients into rivers, lakes, and forests, feeding giant coastal brown bears, hulking rainbow trout, bald eagles, Dolly Varden, and Arctic grayling. We are delighted that an additional layer of protection will be afforded to the region’s ecosystems thanks to this decision.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Chantal de Alcuaz, Co-Executive Director, The Alaska Center: “This is a huge win for the families, everyday Alaskans, organizations, activists, fisherfolk, and Indigenous leaders who have committed years of their lives to this fight. At The Alaska Center, we believe that Alaskan voices need to be in the spaces where decisions are being made for our communities’ and climate’s future. This is a wonderful example of what happens when Alaskans can come together and are listened to. We are now counting on our state and federal leaders to ensure this special place, fishery, and community is protected for generations to come.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Guido Rahr, CEO, Wild Salmon Center: “The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to veto Pebble Mine is a critical win for the most important wild salmon stronghold left on Earth. We are thankful that the EPA listened clearly to science and to the people of Bristol Bay and put in place protections to ensure the region’s abundant salmon runs continue to thrive for years to come. The decision marks a victory for clean water, for the thousands of people in local communities that are built around these fish, and for the 137 species that depend on that returning salmon, including orcas, grizzly bears, caddis flies and everything in between.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Jen Leahy, Alaska Program Manager, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership: “Today’s decision is a hard-earned victory for Bristol Bay residents, the majority of Alaskans, and the four million Americans who have repeatedly requested conservation safeguards for this special place. The hunt-fish community is thrilled to know that another layer of safeguards now exists for the headwaters of Bristol Bay.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association: Today’s critical action to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay affirms the irreplaceable significance of this region, home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run and Alaska Native communities for time immemorial. From Nondalton, Alaska to Washington, D.C., NPCA worked alongside communities and conservation partners for years to stop this disastrous proposal, which also threatened Lake Clark and Katmai national parks. Bold action was needed to once and for all stop this mine that would have forever damaged the Bay and its surrounding national parks, wildlife and wild lands. We commend the EPA for today’s action, which marks the beginning of allowing this region to heal while working towards future protection. We will continue to stand with allies and advocates to protect this spectacular region of the country, its surrounding community and its vibrant salmon and bear populations.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Bonnie Gestring, Northwest Program Director, Earthworks: “We’re thrilled to see the Environmental Protection Agency fulfill its commitment to the people of Alaska to provide enduring protection for Bristol Bay, its economy, its salmon, and its people from the dangerous and destructive Pebble Mine. Congratulations to the Biden administration and EPA for seeing this landmark decision through. We are proud to stand in support of the Bristol Bay Tribes and commercial fishermen whose lives and livelihoods depend on this thriving fishery.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Marc Fink, Senior Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity: “We applaud the EPA for taking this critical step to protect the irreplaceable ecosystems of Alaska’s Bristol Bay. From salmon and grizzly bears to the rare Iliamna Lake seals, a remarkable array of wildlife depends on this watershed. This should be the final nail in the coffin of the disastrous Pebble Mine proposal, but we’ll keep fighting until this watershed is permanently protected.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Erin Colón, Senior Attorney, Earthjustice: “After a fierce, decades-long battle waged by the people of Bristol Bay and so many others, EPA today followed the law and science to establish enduring protections for the Bristol Bay watershed under the Clean Water Act. This is a major victory worth celebrating, but we cannot rest until even more permanent protections are in place. The Bristol Bay watershed is one of the world’s great ecosystems, and the way of life and the abundant future it supports is worth the fight. Earthjustice is committed to continuing to represent those who oppose unlawful and destructive mining projects like the proposed Pebble Mine.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Peter Morgan, Environmental Law Program Senior Attorney, Sierra Club: “For decades, Pebble Mine has faced nearly universal and overwhelming opposition from all sides. Finally, this terrible idea can be put to rest, so we can protect the world-class salmon runs and treasured and abundant wildlife on which local communities depend. We must protect lands and waters like Bristol Bay, not sell them off to Big Polluters, and we welcome the Biden Administration’s action to preserve this iconic place.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Joel Reynolds, Western Director and Senior Attorney, NRDC: This is an existential win for Bristol Bay, for the region’s tribes and communities, for science, and for nature at its very best. The wild salmon fishery of Bristol Bay is a national treasure, protected at last from a relentless assault by an underfunded foreign corporation hoping to enrich itself at the expense of the people of Alaska. EPA’s decision is a victory for science over politics, people over profits, and biodiversity over extinction. The battle against the Pebble Mine has pitted an essentially eternal supply of food against an essentially eternal threat of irreparable harm—and today the planet won.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Collin O’Mara, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation: “Bristol Bay is an ecological treasure and an economic powerhouse that feeds the world. Building a mine in this pristine system will never make sense. We applaud the Biden Administration for following the science and stepping up to protect Bristol Bay, its salmon, and the Tribal communities that depend on them.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Madeleine Foote, Deputy Legislative Director, League of Conservation Voters: “We are overjoyed and relieved that Alaska’s spectacular Bristol Bay is finally protected from the decades-long threat posed by the dangerous and destructive Pebble Mine. This is a hard-fought victory for local Tribes who have not only served as stewards of these iconic waters for thousands of years, but also led this fight and united nearly four million people across the country to safeguard the lives and livelihoods that depend on the Bay’s clean water and unparalleled salmon runs. We thank President Biden and the EPA for heeding the calls of these Tribal leaders and delivering on their campaign promise by allowing the residents of Bristol Bay to focus on a more sustainable future that respects the cultural, spiritual, and economic significance of these irreplaceable waters and protects them for generations to come.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Dyani Chapman, Alaska Environment State Director, Environment America: “The headwaters of Bristol Bay are, quite simply, a really bad place for a mine, and I’m thrilled that the EPA is effectively preventing the open-pit Pebble Mine. The region is home to an incredible range of wildlife and remains healthy because it’s been spared a lot of the harsher touches of industrialization. Over the past 20 years, scientists, the local Indigenous communities, fishermen and broader public have asked repeatedly for strong and permanent protections for Bristol Bay. This EPA determination is a long-awaited win for Sockeye Salmon and the entire Bristol Bay region.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Alaska Congresswoman Mary Peltola: “Rebuilding our salmon runs and protecting our fish was the number one reason I decided to run for Congress. Today, the EPA listened to Alaskans and helped us do just that. Protecting Bristol Bay, and the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, has been a bipartisan effort from the very beginning. After decades of regulatory uncertainty, I hope that this ruling gives the people who live and work in Bristol Bay the stability and peace of mind they deserve and the confidence that this incredible salmon run will no longer be threatened. I also understand that some Alaskans might be disappointed by this decision. To all of you, know that I am committed to our state’s development and to helping local communities build robust economies with good-paying jobs.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Washington Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez: “The Pebble Mine project would have been disastrous for Southwest Washington’s environment and fishing economy, and I’m thankful that the EPA stepped up to protect Bristol Bay for years to come. Our state relies on healthy salmon fisheries, and in Congress, I’ll continue to fight for Washington’s fishing families and way of life.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell: “This is the final nail in the coffin for the Pebble Mine. The science is clear, the mine would have devastated Bristol Bay salmon and the thousands of hardworking families that depend on salmon for their livelihoods, subsistence, and recreation. The EPA’s decision to permanently protect Bristol Bay is the culmination of a hard fought battle, and I am proud to have stood with fishing families, communities, Tribes, and the whole Pacific Northwest Region to oppose the Pebble Mine for more than a decade. Now, we will have a thriving Bristol Bay salmon run for generations to come.” [Statement, 1/31/23]

Washington Senator Patty Murray: “This is great and long overdue news! Scientific research has shown time and time again that opening this mine would have had significant and detrimental impacts to salmon habitat in Bristol Bay and the entire region. Glad to see @EPA use its authority to block it.” [Tweet, 1/31/23]

Stay Connected

Sign Up

We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

Opt in to send and receive text messages from President Biden.

Scroll to Top Scroll to Top