By the Bay: February 14, 2020

Feb 14, 2020

It's Valentine's Day! We hear about the SWR school district's Yup'ik value of the month, get an update on Pebble's federal permitting process, and talk about hunting conditions for moose around Togiak after the season there was extended.

The moon sets in Dillingham on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.
Credit KDLG/Isabelle Ross

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Arnaq Esther Ilutsik is the Yup’ik studies director at the Southwest Region School District. They have a Yup’ik value for each month of the year, and Ilutsik came into the studio to talk about the school’s value for February.

Pebble was in the news again this week, as the mine proposal moves through the federal permitting process. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the preliminary final environmental review of Pebble’s application to cooperating agencies and tribes last week, and that document was passed on to the press. 

The preliminary final review does not include a preliminary determination of the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative, also called a LEDPA. That will be included in the final EIS, and is what will be considered in the mine’s Record of Decision. 


Reactions so far haven’t been too surprising. Groups that oppose the mine say that the process is rushed, and that it’s not addressing the public comments and critiques of the draft EIS. That includes things like the lack of an analysis of a major tailings dam failure. 

A press release from the United Tribes of Bristol Bay stressed its view that the Army Corps was moving forward while disregarding local concerns as well as a directive from Congress — Sen. Lisa Murkowski had called on the Army Corps to address those concerns. 

  Pebble’s reaction was overwhelmingly positive, which wasn’t a surprise either. In a press release, Pebble CEO Tom Collier says the Army Corps’ preliminary review shows that it’s on schedule to release the final EIS this summer. He also points to the sections that say the impact to fish won’t affect commercial or subsistence harvest levels.  Pebble also issued a press release specifically regarding the lack of a major tailings failure analysis in the EIS documents, which has been a major point of contention for critics of the project. But critics of the mine maintain that the preliminary review is proof that the entire permitting process is flawed and needs to undergo major changes, including the lack of an analysis showing what would happen if there was a major tailings dam failure. They say it is part of a larger pattern of gaps in the Army Corps’ review, and that even if the risk of a failing is low, because the mine would have to be maintained in perpetuity, that risk is still very present. New Stuyahok Assistant Principal Meghan Redmond was chosen as National Assistant Principal of the Year last spring. As one of her duties, Redmond participated in a mission trip, sponsored by the photography company Lifetouch. Redmond travelled with a group of other educators and Lifetouch employees to Rio Grande in the Dominican Republic. It's a small community in the municipality of Constanza, and the group travelled there to help build an addition to the community’s school. 

For six days, Redmond and other group members mixed cement and helped erect walls to the school’s addition. And you know, there’s a lot of debate about the impact and value of philanthropic missions abroad.

It raises a great ethical quandary: what are your priorities? Is this actually helping the community? When asked about that dynamic, Redmond said that for people involved in trips like this, it was important to go without a personal agenda. 


The moose hunt in game management unit 17A was extended by a month. It was originally set to close February 9. Now it’s closing at 11:59 p.m. on February 29. Hunters need a 2020 hunting license, and can bag up to two animals — an antlered bull and an antlerless cow — if they have the correct permits.

Peter Lockuk, Sr., is the Yugtun place names coordinator for the Tribal Council of Togiak. He says conditions weren’t very good at the beginning of the season. But since the end of December, they’ve improved.


Lockuk says that the recent snow around Togiak has made hunting easier, and some folks have been going out.

While the moose hunt was extended, the Mulchatna caribou hunt was, of course, closed for the season on both state and federal lands because of a sharp decline in the size of the herd. Lockuk says he has noticed a big shift in caribou around the region.

Here’s Lockuk’s rundown of the hunting conditions around Togiak in Yup’ik. 

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be appropriate to talk about sex — specifically, sexually transmitted infections. We’re going to unpack a few issues surrounding STIs by learning a little more about what they are, how to prevent them, and what to do if you have one. 

To do that, we checked in with Doctor Cathy Hyndman, who is based in Dillingham.  



Also on the show today, we report on a death in Manokotak


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