An agreement recently approved by a judge will require the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to revise its land-use plan for Bristol Bay. The settlement ends a 2009 lawsuit filed by Trout Unlimited, area Native tribes and fishermen against the state, in opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine.
The Associated Press (via The Juneau Empire) reports that among the sticking points was that the 2005 land plan reclassified what had been a multi-use area, in which all uses must be given consideration, to a single-use area.
Plaintiffs' attorney Geoffrey Parker told the AP on Wednesday that the 2005 reclassification of land "bordered on scandalous" and was "clearly to benefit Pebble." Although the Pebble Mine project didn't officially begin until 2007, the seeds were planted long before, Parker said.
Marty Parsons, deputy director of DNR's Division of Mining, Land and Water, disagreed. Although Parsons was not working in the department at the time, he doubts that officials there would favor one side or the other when it came to Bristol Bay resources.
Any potential reclassification of Bristol Bay land as a result of the agreement will not be known until the department completes the process. Drafting of the revision, which must be completed by September 2013, is a public process open to public input.
Read more, including comment from Pebble Partnership, and specifics of the agreement ending the 2009 lawsuit, here.