Defending Alaska, “work” worth doing.

A day in the life of Scott Hed, Director of Sportsman's Alliance for Alaska

Here I sit, 30,000 feet in the sky, on my way to “work.”  I have a degree in economics with a concentration in accounting.  I worked for 10 years in the financial services industry.  My commute was typically from my home to the office across town.
But since 2001, I’ve had a much more interesting, enjoyable, and I’d argue meaningful, job.  It’s the kind of job where I sometimes have to pinch myself just to remind me of how lucky I am.
In early 2001, the company I was working for made a decision to close our local office.  That could have been traumatic, but I figured it gave me a rare opportunity at the age of 32 to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life – or at least the next portion of it.  I took that summer off, traveled to Alaska twice for a total of 6 weeks, and I ended up with my current job practically falling right into my lap.

Since the fall of 2001, I’ve logged months away from my home and wife, countless thousands of air miles from coast to coast and even overseas, and some incredible experiences.  “Work” for me is talking to people about Alaska and inviting them to care enough about this great place that they’ll do what is necessary to protect its lands, waters, fish, game, cultures, and recreational opportunities that many would say are without peer, at least in our country.

I’ve worked on campaigns to protect places in Alaska ranging from the arctic coastal regions to the planet’s largest temperate rainforest in southeast Alaska.  However, the past 7 years have found me devoting most of my efforts to the campaign to protect the world’s most productive wild salmon fishery in southwest Alaska’s famed Bristol Bay region.

If you’re not familiar with the proposed Pebble Mine, you can plug those two words into your search engine and find out all you care to know.  But it boils down to this.  Foreign mining interests have set their sights on Southwest Alaska with plans to construct one of the planet’s largest copper/gold/molybdenum mines.  A deep and diverse coalition has formed to defend Bristol Bay, including Alaska Natives, commercial fishermen, sport anglers and hunters, chefs and restaurants, religious groups, major jewelers, and more.  All with the belief that mining in Bristol Bay is the wrong idea in the wrong place.  The risks are simply too high.

In coming weeks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release its final study of the Bristol Bay region and the risks posed by massive mining proposals.  Fishpond has been in this fight, along with over 1,000 other sport fishing and hunting groups and businesses, for many years.  We’ll all need to stand together to ask the President and the EPA to protect Bristol Bay.  This is a conservation battle that will go down as a victory for the ages (I’m an optimist – practically a requirement in this line of work) and should serve as an example of what can be accomplished when diverse interests groups find a common cause to rally behind.

I’ll be landing shortly.  Off to another weekend of visiting with attendees at another big sport show.  In other words, just another day on the job – but it’s “work” worth doing.

Learn more about Alaska issues at Sportsman's Alliance for Alaska and about Bristol Bay at Save Bristol Bay.

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