The Bristol Bay watershed is the most productive salmon basin on Earth, serving as the spawning grounds for the world’s largest commercial sockeye salmon fishery and the largest remaining king salmon runs. However, for the past 15 years, Bristol Bay has been sited for development of the controversial and contentious Pebble gold and copper mine. If built, Pebble’s proposed open-pit and underground gold and copper mine would be three miles across, the largest in North America. At full operation, Pebble infrastructure would require a huge tailings dam and containment pond to hold between 2.5-10 billion tons of toxic, acid-generating mine waste that would necessitate treatment in perpetuity. Any release of mine waste into the surface or groundwater threatens Bristol Bay’s salmon runs.

Formed in 2019 to coordinate leaders in the Bristol Bay protection movement, the Bristol Bay Defense Fund (BBDF) is a joint resource steered by a coalition including the Alaska Heritage Campaign, Alaska Venture Fund, Native American Rights Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, SalmonState, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, and the Wild Salmon Center. BBDF’s goal is to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed from the proposed Pebble Mine and to create permanent safeguards for Bristol Bay and its irreplaceable and globally important cultural and ecological resources.

Stopping the near-term development of the mine is complex due to the mine’s location on state land and the state’s regulatory environment, which does not facilitate buy-out nor permanent retirement of mining leases. BBDF is raising the frictional costs for mine development to render such development economically infeasible for the foreseeable future. The Moore Charitable Foundation supports BBDF and partner campaign efforts, including communications, litigation and mobilization at a level needed to respond to Pebble’s ubiquitous lobbying efforts and outreach to investors and other stakeholders.


Impact: Bristol Bay Defense Fund


Dominated public hearings in Alaska centered around the Pebble Mine Environmental Impact Statement process.

Mobilized tens of thousands of online supporters.

Secured the “Huffman amendment” in the U.S. House, defunding the Army Corps permitting process should the amendment be included in the final appropriations bill

Created the environment that led to a U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Hearing on the Pebble Mine.

With many interested parties, filed litigation, challenging the EPA’s decision to lift Clean Water Act protections for Bristol Bay’s headwaters.

Secured updated coverage of the Pebble issue in major media.

Deterred new major investment in the Pebble Partnership.