“We are really used to, as Alaskans, having salmon, but not necessarily aware of the places they live as part of their lifestyle when growing up,” says Erin Harrington, the project organizer, who grew up in Kodiak.
Habitat is just one area of discovery for salmon lovers, she said. But Alaskans also associate wild salmon with home, food and hard work ethics.
“The juicy area of opportunity for the project is there is a lot of distance between where many of us are in understanding of the resource and where we might be in a couple of years, and if we end up proceeding with this project, we would end up in a lot of these areas,” she said.
While Alaskans have a wide range of experience with and knowledge of salmon, one thing people almost universally agree on is they want the while salmon to be here for our grandchildren, as part of the lifestyle, culture and economic fabric that it is today, she said.
The Salmon Project, said Harrington, is not about the proposed Pebble mine. “Many more Alaskans feel personally engaged with this resource than have a strong opinion on a number of resource projects. IF we reduce the conversations about salmon (to Pebble) then we do a disservice to Alaskans, because then the conversations are based around conflict rather than connectivity.
The bottom line, Harrington said, “is salmon is the connection that we all have to each other. It’s about Alaskans and how we use this fish. It’s about continuing to use this fish forever.”
Funding for the project include contributions from The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in Palo Alto, California. Gordon Moore is a co-founder of Intel Corp., and chairman emeritus of Intel’s board of directors.
Included on the Salmon Project’s website is a section called Practice Safe Salmon, which provides information on salmon habitat, their life cycle, how to care for your salmon catch and tips on how to make your own real estate salmon friendly.
Harrington also encourages residents to read David Montgomery’s “King of Fish,” a natural history of the evolution and near-extinction of salmon due to changing landscapes and short sighted fishing practices. Montgomery, a resident of Seattle, is a professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington.