One million acres of prime fish and wildlife habitat adjacent to Lake Clark and Katmai National Parks in Alaska could be opened to new mining claims with a stroke of a pen. In the waning days of the Bush Administration, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recommended that a mineral closure in place since 1971 be lifted by the Secretary of the Interior, an action that could create a new stampede of mineral staking as state lands in this region are already under advanced exploration.
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All of these lands lie in southwest Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed, home to the largest remaining wild salmon fishery in the world. A new report issued by the National Parks Conservation Association's (NPCA) Center for State of the Park clearly identifies this proposed mining district immediately adjacent to Lake Clark as the single biggest threat to one of America's most pristine and wild national parks. BLM's plan needs to be reworked with the region's globally significant salmon and wildlife values taken into consideration. Instead of signing BLM's proposed order lifting the mineral closure, NPCA is asking Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to take no action on the recommendation and send this plan back to the drawing board.