Salmonfest Brings Music, Education

Rain clouds pouring down on Salmonfest on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula failed to dampen the spirits of some 6,500 participants, who turned out for three days of fish, love and music.
In rubber boots, sandals and bare feet, they danced to the music of Indigo girls, Dead Winter Carpenters, Trampled by Turtles and dozens of other musicians, and learned from conservation groups on hand for the event, Aug. 5, 6 and 7th, about the importance of protecting fisheries environment in Alaska.

The effort to educate the public on how critical clean habitat is to fish was led by the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, with support from Cook Inletkeeper, who arranged for Maria Finn, author of “The Whole Fish,” to give workshops on how to utilize the whole salmon. had leaflets talking about the importance of Cook Inlet salmon to the economy of the Kenai Peninsula, noting that while the price of a barrel of oil is about $30, the price of a single king salmon is $73. The group warned against permitting resource projects that fail to protect salmon habitat.

A spokeswoman for the Eyak Preservation Council in Cordova offered information on how to join in a letter writing campaign urging the US Navy to move the location of its Northern Edge military training exercise, set for 2017 in Prince William Sound.

Others spoke about the potential adverse impact of a proposed hydropower project in the Susitna River on salmon habitat and the need to protect salmon runs in Bristol Bay from mining and salmon runs in Southeast Alaska from the impact of logging.

Salmonfest, which began six years ago as Salmonstock, was organized to educate the public about the potential adverse impact of the proposed Pebble mine at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed. It has since attracted thousands of visitors to hear nationally known bands, and learn about fish habitat issues in a family friendly atmosphere somewhat reminiscent of Woodstock.