Update – SEPTEMBER 2022

We've raised 75% of our $20 million goal!
But we still need your support by the end of 2022 to complete this once-in-a-lifetime effort to conserve the most significant Bristol Bay watersheds for salmon threatened by Pebble Mine.

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a visual story about the wild sockeye salmon of ILIAMNA LAKE IN Bristol Bay, Alaska

credit: Jason Ching

Project summary

The Bristol Bay region of Alaska is a pristine and important place. It’s home to the largest wild salmon fishery in the world and supports over 15,000 jobs. The most significant watersheds for salmon are located in the heart of Bristol Bay, in the northeastern end of Iliamna Lake. It’s here that the Pedro Bay Corporation, an Alaska Native village corporation, have remained longstanding stewards of the critical fish and wildlife habitat and traditional cultural resources now threatened by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

The Pedro Bay Rivers project is a partnership between the Pedro Bay Corporation, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust and The Conservation Fund. The goal of the project is to conserve 44,170 acres of vital habitat on Iliamna Lake that is essential to the health and vitality of Bristol Bay, the people who live there and the world-renowned salmon industry.

The project aims to place three conservation easements on lands owned by the Pedro Bay Corporation, restricting development and ensuring the watersheds of the Pile River, Iliamna River and Knutson Creek are able support the extraordinary returns of sockeye salmon year after year.

Pedro Bay Rivers Project
Click here to view a larger version of the map.

Iliamna Lake AK map Pedro Bay Corporation Conservation Easements Proposed Along Knutson Creek, Pile River, and Iliamna River. Northeast Iliamna Lake, Bristol Bay, Alaska. Click here to view a larger version of the map.

What will the protection of these lands and waters accomplish?

Most importantly, the Pedro Bay Rivers project will help secure the future of Bristol Bay salmon and ensure a sustainable economy in the Iliamna Lake region currently threatened by an overland transportation corridor that could service the proposed Pebble Mine through Pedro Bay Corporation lands. The proposed gold and copper mine project threaten the ecological, subsistence and cultural integrity of Iliamna Lake and the greater Bristol Bay region.

Iliamna River Autum Fly Out Media crop
Iliamna River, AK. Photo credit: Fly Out Media

The project will also:

  • conserve the most productive and intact spawning and rearing habitats for sockeye salmon in the Iliamna Lake watersheds;
  • protect subsistence uses, traditional activities, and cultural resources of the Alaska Natives of descent and the original occupants of these land; and
  • provide the Pedro Bay Corporation an opportunity to fulfill the goals of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to provide long-term financial stability and reliable shareholder benefits.

liamna River AK c Jason Ching crop
Durant’s Cove, AK. Credit: Jason Ching

Our Role

The Pedro Bay Rivers project builds on previous conservation partnership efforts to protect thousands of acres of vital salmon and wildlife habitat in the Iliamna Lake region.

The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, is under contract to purchase conservation easements on 44,170 acres of essential fish and wildlife habitat on the northeast end of Iliamna Lake from the Pedro Bay Corporation by December 2022.

This collaborative conservation solution will help to ensure the health and vitality of the globally important Bristol Bay region, provide environmental and economic benefits for people and wildlife, and minimize the risk of habitat destruction on Pedro Bay Corporation lands.

Tim 2

“In 2016, The Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, The Conservation Fund and the Pedro Bay Corporation began discussing a partnership to preserve critical salmon habitat on lands owned by the corporation on Lake Iliamna. Those discussions led to a conservation easement in 2017 protecting over 12,600 acres across an estimated 143 islands that support a unique genetic group of island beach spawning sockeye and haul-outs for one of only five populations of freshwater seals in the world. 

Now that same partnership is engaged in an effort to preserve an additional 44,100 acres. The Board of Directors of the Land Trust is excited and proud to be part of this continuing cooperative effort to assure the future of salmon in Bristol Bay, and the future of the subsistence, recreational and commercial fisheries that depend upon those salmon.

— Tim Troll (pictured), Executive Director, Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust


Why it Matters

The Bristol Bay region is a major economic driver in southwest Alaska, accounting for 57% of global sockeye salmon harvests.

The scope of these conservation easements was designed in partnership with the Pedro Bay Corporation to not only protect the important salmon habitat, but to also prevent an industrial-scale road that the Pebble Mine project desires to build on the Corporation’s land to connect the proposed mine site to Cook Inlet on the Pacific Ocean.

Once conserved, the Pedro Bay Corporation will continue to own and manage the lands for recreation, cultural and subsistence activities. The Pedro Bay Rivers project will also protect habitat for many other species, including moose, seal, brown bear and wolf.

Knutson Bay Iliamna River AK c Jason Ching cropKnutson Bay, AK. Photo credit: Jason Ching

We need your support

We have raised 75% of our $20 million goal to make this critical conservation effort a reality. The clock is ticking, and we have until the end of 2022 to secure the last $5 million. Your donation today will directly support the Pedro Bay Rivers project in Alaska.

Donate to Pedro Bay Rivers Project

Donate Online - To donate online to the Pedro Bay Rivers project, please click here.

Donation via Check - Checks should be made payable to The Conservation Fund. Please designate your gift by including “Pedro Bay Rivers project” on the reference line and mail to The Conservation Fund’s headquarters: 1655 N. Fort Myer Drive, Suite 1300, Arlington, VA 22209.

Donation via Wire - Please contact Claire Cooney at ccooney@conservationfund.org.

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