Testimony: Nanci Morris Lyon

Nanci Morris Lyon, of Bear Trail Lodge in King Salmon, Alaska, testified on Pebble’s plan at the Army Corps of Engineers’ hearing this month.

Here’s what she had to say about impacts to the recreational fishing industry in Bristol Bay:

My name is Nanci Morris Lyon. I’m the owner and operator of Bear Trail Lodge, a commercial sportfishing operation located at the confluence of the King Salmon Creek and the Naknek River. I’ve been active in the Bristol Bay and statewide fisheries for more than 30 years. During that time, I have lived in King Salmon. I’m a subsistence user and concerned citizen.
I’ve been involved in the Pebble debate since longer than I care to remember. Since the debate began, I have birthed and raised a daughter. She became a full-time fishing guide, and now carries on our family tradition. I have gone from being a single guide-operator, to the owner of a 5-star lodge. These accomplishments have taken place over the same span of time that the Pebble Partnership has tried to convince us, as residents, and you, as land overseers, that this mine is a valid idea. It is not. And it will not be for a long time - until it is safe enough to consider.
You are talking about Bristol Bay, a place that has no equal in the world when it comes to sports fishing. This prolific, historic, and world-renown fishery was totally downplayed in the impact statement. It virtually ignored the potential impacts that we would suffer even without a catastrophic failure on the mine’s part. People from all over the world have come to Bristol Bay since the birth of flight, to fish these crystal-clear streams and have the opportunity to land the fish of a lifetime. With the type of infrastructure that is being proposed with this miniature mine footprint, these qualities will be lost. And that was not even mentioned in the study.
No one comes to Bristol Bay to fish below a bridge, or listen to an early morning explosion, or hear heavy equipment in the distance, creating what appears to be a dust storm. The infrastructure that Pebble would bring would change the face of Bristol Bay sport fishing industry permanently- and not for the better.
It would take away jobs and opportunities from the community. I take young adults into my lodge each year and give them an opportunity to learn a trade and how to be responsible. I open my lodge to the community all summer and winter. Folks are welcome to stop in for dinner, or to enjoy some guided fishing in the summer. In the winter, many use the lodge to host Christmas parties, hold meetings, and host public gatherings. The lodge has weddings, we’ve celebrated High School seniors and we’ve given families an opportunity to work together. It raises funds that allow our young people better opportunities in athletics and scholastic scholarship competition - all things that give value to my business and the right to have had a more careful approach taken into the consideration of the sport fishing industry in this study.
I’m a business person, and not necessarily that sharp at it. But even I can recognize the fact that this impact statement is only addressing a very small mine footprint - one that we never support what the final mine will have to look like to become financially profitable. But for some reason, future expansion of the mine has not been addressed, nor was the possibility of a catastrophic failure. After the recent November earthquake, I expected the catastrophic failure would certainly be addressed.
This is our home. This is a piece of America that cannot be replaced. We deserve a much more thorough and careful evaluation than what this impact statement offers.
The message that I would like to have taken back to Washington, D.C. on my behalf, is that the material that the current DEIS brings forward is incomplete, unscientific, and totally unacceptable.
— Nanci Morris Lyon

Header image of Bear Trail Lodge by Pat Ford