When the email invitation came in Sunday evening with the subject line: “Invitation from the President for a celebration in recognition of the Biden-Harris Administration's Historic Conservation Efforts on Thursday, May 11,” from the White House Social Office, my first reaction was “this is a clever scam.”
Turns out it wasn’t.
Thursday found me standing in the Rose Garden with about 150 others. The celebration marked the Biden administration’s action to protect Bristol Bay.
The fight to protect Bristol Bay and stop the Pebble Mine has been a tier one priority for me and many of my colleagues for more than a decade. No Pebble Mine stickers are ubiquitous throughout the fly-fishing industry. It was welcome news when we learned in January that powerful protections for the region were now in place. It’s truly been the fight of a lifetime.
In his remarks in the Rose Garden, President Biden said:
Bristol Bay is an extraordinary place unlike anywhere in the world. Six rivers meet there, traveling through 40,000 miles of tundra, wetlands and lakes, collecting freshwater and sediment along the way from some of the most pristine land on the entire planet. And that's not hyperbole. That freshwater empties into Bristol Bay, where every year tens of millions of salmon return, making this the largest sock-eye salmon fishery on all the Earth.
I had planned to go brook trout fishing with my friend Mike. It’s a short season and giving up days is not something to be done lightly. But as I stepped on to the White House grounds, I knew I had made the right decision. It wasn’t my first time to the White House, but it still filled me with a certain reverence for the hallowed ground I was walking on.
No, it wasn’t one of my beloved brook trout streams, but it was special none the less. It filled me with a sense of history and gravitas and no small measure of pride.
Not that far from the feeling on many of the trout streams I fish, truth be told.
Way to go! Proud of you and what you do for conservation.
There are few excuses to skip a fishing trip Tom, but this one was clearly legit. Glad you represented us there and also for your decades of service for our water. We will get some time on the water soon.