Persuasive project sends students on ‘trip of a lifetime’

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The Stephenville Outdoor Adventure Class, under the direction of D'Anna Green, is raising funds for an excursion to Alaska earned by their persuasive work to save Bristol Bay. || Contributed

Outdoor Adventure group raising funds for excursion to Alaska

By AMANDA KIMBLE

TheFlashToday.com

STEPHENVILLE (March 15, 2016) — A group of Stephenville students is preparing to embark on the trip of a lifetime. But it’s not Spring Break on the slopes of Breckenridge or the sandy beaches of Florida. Members of Stephenville High School’s Outdoor Adventure Class are preparing to embark on a summertime adventure to King Salmon, Alaska.

Located on the Alaska Peninsula, King Salmon serves as the gateway to Katmai National Park and Preserve, which spans 4.2 million acres and is known as one of the best places in Alaska to view grizzly bears in the wild, according to travelalaska.com. The destination takes visitors close to nature and away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. King Salmon isn’t connected by road to other Alaskan communities.

Home to some of the best fishing, hiking and scenery in the world, the location is no doubt an outdoorsman’s dream, but it was more than chance that landed SHS freshmen Caroly Leija and Ashlyn Thomas, junior Aaron Abila and senior Robert Ford the opportunity.

The Outdoor Adventure Class is led by D’Anna Green, who said to qualify for the trip, the students signed up for a competition that involved completing a project that addressed a specific issue in Alaska’s Bristol Bay area.


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“Students won the trip by completing a conservation project offered by the Dallas Ecological Foundation and Master Guide Joe Klutsch from Katmai Guide Services,” Green said. “The topic – the pros and cons of the Pebble Mine being built in the Bristol Bay area – was chosen by the fishing guides in Alaska who are providing the trip for the students. This is a very controversial issue amongst conservationists.”

According to Alaska Department of Natural Resources, dnr.alaska.gov, “The Pebble Project” is a copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry deposit in the advanced exploration stage. The western portion of the project area is a “near surface resource of approximately 4.1 billion metric tons.”  The eastern side is “significantly deeper than Pebble West and contains an estimated resource at 3.4 billion metric tons.”

The project says the project is currently on hold as the Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) reviews its “options for advancing the project further.”

PLP, pebblepartnership.com, explains the project by saying it’s an idea that could help power green energy initiatives, bring jobs and infrastructure to Southwest Alaska and help native families remain in their villages and thrive. 

But conservation groups like Save Bristol Bay, savebristolbay.org, say the massive proposed mine is a major threat to “North America’s salmon powerhouse.”

Exploring Pebble Mine’s potential benefits and downfalls, each of the four outdoor education students completed a pictograph for the contest and also submitted an accompanying editorial.

“Bristol Bay’s ecosystem is home to the largest population of salmon in the world,” student Robert Ford said in his editorial. “The mine will not only destroy habitats, but it will also pollute waters and poison salmon. To build the mine would mean destroying Bristol Bay.”

Caroly Leija further explained the importance of preserving the area’s ecosystem.


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“If Pebble Mine is built, it would demolish the path that the salmon take to get to their spawning ground, diminishing the economy by halting the commercial fishing that help support the Alaskan economy,” she said. “The Alaskan natives depend on the salmon because they provide food and income for the Alaskan families…”

“They have been fishing those waters their whole lives,” Aaron Abila agreed. “It has been passed down through the generations… The fishing and culture are more meaningful than a mine.”

Leija acknowledged that the mine would create opportunities for commercial and financial growth, but said it would threaten the natural habitat of bears, moose, caribou and 120,000 other animal species.

“Even though building the Pebble Mine may have some economic pros; it doesn’t outweigh the threat the Pebble Mine poses to the ecosystem and its native people,” Ashlyn Thomas concluded.  “Not only would it be wiping out an ecosystem it would be wiping out a culture.”

Through their powers of persuasion, the four teens from Texas and a couple of chaperons will have the opportunity to see the habitat their projects aim to protect. The trip is scheduled for July, but Green said the students are responsible for a portion of the travel cost.

“The cost of the flight and overnight stay in Anchorage is approximately $1,000 per student,” Green said. “The (Stephenville) Evening Lions Club donated $2,000 towards the students’ flight but they still need to raise approximately $2,500.” 

The students have organized a fundraiser to fund the balance, and local businesses and individuals have donated raffle items, which Green expects to award in May 1.

Raffle items include a Yeti Hopper 30 and Yeti Tumbler donated by TexStar Ford; a two-person pheasant hunt donated by Box H Game Birds; a four-person dove hunt donated by Tammy and Calvin Hudson; a two-person concealed handgun class; four-hour fly fishing lesson; and a Cody Davis autographed Rams Jersey.

Tickets are $2 each or six for $10, with a single winning ticket being drawn for each item. To purchase tickets, contact Green via email at Danna.green@sville.us or by calling (254) 552-6819. Checks may also be mailed to SHS, 2650 West Overhill Drive Stephenville, TX 76401, with attention to D’Anna Green.

“It really is an opportunity and trip of a lifetime for these students,” Green said.


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Below are the editorial work and pictographs comprised by these students:

Robert Ford

My attention has been brought to a mine that is threatening Bristol Bay ecosystem and its wildlife. Bristol Bay’s ecosystem is home to the largest population of salmon in the world. The mine will not only destroy habitats but it will also pollute waters and poison salmon. To build the mine would mean destroying Bristol Bay.

The mine would affect all wildlife in the area. Most of the wildlife make their home in untouched beauty of Bristol Bay. A few species that make Bristol Bay they’re home are grizzly bears, wolves, and moose. Grizzly bears depend on salmon as a major food source. Bringing in the mine would hurt the wildlife and the people that make Alaska their home. Most natives in the area depend on the fishing source to live. They’ve fished their whole life in the Bristol Bay. For some fishing is their lively hoods. Would you want your lively hood taken from you? If not, then why would you take it from them? Don’t destroy the heart of Alaska.

Robert Ford PiktoChart


Aaron Abila

It has been brought to my attention that a mine is being thought of being built that will harm an ecosystem. This ecosystem that is home to a salmon population larger than anywhere else in the world. 40 million salmon make their home in Bristol Bay! The mine they are thinking about building in Alaska is a terrible idea.

Not only would this mine harm the salmon population but the other wildlife that makes its home at and around Bristol Bay. The amount of wildlife in that area is abundant and vast. There’s a world class salmon fishing spot in Bristol Bay that would be taken away because of the mine.

Just to name a few species that make their home in Bristol Bay would be grizzly bear, wolves and moose. The grizzly population would be hit the hardest. They depend on the salmon as a major food source. By adding the mine in the mix not only would you hurt the animals it would hurt the people that make their home in Alaska. Salmon make up 70% of the world’s sea food consumption.

Most of the natives of that area depend on the fishing source to live. They have been fishing those waters their whole lives. It has been passed down through the generations. So why would we want to hurt other people that live on our planet. They haven’t done anything to our ecosystems so why should we hurt their ecosystem. The fishing and culture are more meaningful than a mine.

Aaron Abilla Piktochart


Ashlyn Thomas

Dear Editor,

We can’t let a human disturbance destroy Bristol Bay and its thriving ecosystem. The ecosystem furnishes the Alaskan natives’ food, employment, culture and much more. If we continue to let human disturbances ruin ecosystems by letting it slide and do nothing to cease it; then future generations won’t be able to enjoy a thriving ecosystem and all the generous things it provides. How will this affect the wildlife in the Bristol Bay ecosystem?

A bear, a grizzly, trifles in the nearby wilderness waiting for its next meal. In the distance caribou trample through the brush searching for vegetation. Meanwhile, thousands upon thousands of salmon glide through the river to their spawning grounds. Over time a human disturbance moves in and demolishes the food web along with the whole environment. Imagine the catastrophic impact the pebble mine will have on the diverse ecosystem. The river that sustains all of the animals will be polluted, slowly killing the wildlife along with it, throwing the ecosystem out of balance. What should we do to prevent this?

I composed this letter to persuade you to support and aid in the cause of protecting Bristol Bay and also to protect any kind of ecosystem that needs it. Even though building the pebble mine may have some economic pros; it doesn’t outweigh the threat the pebble mine poses  to the ecosystem and its native people.  Not only would it be wiping out an ecosystem it would be wiping out a culture.

  Sincerely,

Ashlyn Thomas

Ashlyn Thomas PiktoChart


CAROLY

Dear Editor,

Bristol Bay is home to diverse wildlife ranging from salmon returning to their spawning ground to the huge brown bears that prowl the streams eager for a feast to eat but this act of nature may not last for long. A threat long foreseen is challenging Bristol Bay. The threat, Pebble Mine, is not only challenging the ecosystem but also something far worse. Bristol Bay is not only home to a huge diversity of animals but also to the Alaskan natives. Do we really want to kill the wildlife and the Alaskan native’s place that they call home?

By preserving the ecosystem we are helping life continue. If Pebble Mine is built it would demolish the path that the salmon take to get to their spawning ground, diminishing the economy by halting the commercial fishing that help support the Alaskan economy. The Alaskan Natives depend on the salmon because they provide food and income for the Alaskan families by building pebble mine it would destroy the way the natives get their income. Yes, Pebble Mine would create the opportunity of growing commercially and financially but it would destroy the home of bears, moose, caribou, and the other 120,000 species of animals that call the Alaskan tundra their home.

The wildlife plays a huge role in the Alaskan native’s culture, economy, occupation and lifestyle. Pebble Mine would destroy the years of history and culture the bay contains. I strive to preserve the Alaskan ecosystem and the native’s lifestyle because it will help carry on the traditions of the natives for future generations and the years to come.

Sincerely,

Caroly Leija

Caroly Leija PiktoChart


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