EPA Manager Rick Parkin presented an update of EPA’s Bristol Bay watershed assessment to Bristol Bay Native Corporation shareholders at their annual Village Leadership Workshop in Anchorage in early December.
The update outlined the work the watershed assessment team has done so far and summarized some of their preliminary findings.
Among these, said Parkin, was the fact that “Bristol Bay, including the Nushagak and Kvichak watersheds, hosts one of the few remaining vital, viable and sustainable indigenous cultures relying on wild salmon in the U.S. and perhaps the world.”
More than 50 interviews with elders contributed to EPA’s study of the indigenous cultures of the Bristol Bay area. Participants answered the question: “What is the importance of salmon in the lives of the people of the Bristol Bay villages?” Parkin commented that the messages received during the interviews have been “quite consistent.”
“Overall, what we think we’re seeing are healthy cultures that are growing,” he said. “Subsistence hunting continues to provide Native people with up to 80 percent of their protein.”
Also notable, he said: “The culture has not been broken or significantly modified by Western impact. There are strong links to the past.”
Parkin concluded his presentation with an updated schedule for the watershed assessment. The next step will be a call for public input for candidates who will serve as peer reviewers of the watershed assessment. That announcement will appear in the Federal Register, and will also be summarized here at PebbleWatch. You’ll find more information about peer review, what it is and why it is important, in the December issue of the PebbleWatch newsletter.
The presentation was among several Parkin presented to interested groups, organizations and businesses in December.
More information on the EPA Watershed Assessment.
Questions? Write EPA at R10BristolBay@epa.gov.