One of the most compelling dimensions of the story on the battle lines of Pebble is the diverse coalition of stakeholders banding together to fight a common enemy. Anyone not familiar with their histories might not realize that in many ways commercial fishermen, Alaska Natives, and sportsmen have historically been largely at odds with each other, but have found a unified voice in recent years.
Personally, I have wondered how this collaboration is sustained beyond the battle lines for the good of the region, its stakeholders, and the fishery. One small effort is the Bristol Bay River Academy, which I have blogged about here before. I am once again in Bristol Bay for the 5th Academy and each year it is more succesful than previous years, so it seems. Yesterday, we saw an impressive display of collaboration on the water that was not only cool to see, but was noted by all involved as a pretty unique moment: Guides collaborating with guides from other lodges.
Look, I know so many guides, lodge managers, and lodge owners are really great people. But let's be honest, there's always a bit of competition, ego, and strong shoulders in the business, even amongst the most respected of outfits. Yesterday, though, three lodges pitched in to help with the River Academy and help guide, train, and drive boats for a dozen future leaders of Bristol Bay.
This year's Academy is being hosted by Mission Lodge and the morning started with planes from three different lodges parked on the same dock - Mission Lodge, Bristol Bay Lodge, and Tikchik Narrows Lodge. Add to the mix, the lead instuctor is Nanci Morris Lyon of Alaska Sportsman's Bear Trail Lodge. Quite the power team of Bristol Bay lodges, all owned or managed by some pretty incredible people.
Beyond planes, though, these lodges pitched in boats and their own guides for an exciting day of fishing, sunshine and lots of instruction for the students.
The Academy is a great story in itself, but every one of those guides I talked to yesterday stated some variation of this idea:
"Wow, this is great that all these guides are working together, having fun together."
"It is nice to put things aside and say hi and actually meet these other guides from other lodges."
"What a wonderful thing to work with all these guides."
" Never seen this before!"
Now it is nice in and of itself. However, fighting fights like Pebble require all hands on deck. No doubt. But maintaining a resilient industry and community to protect Bristol Bay for the long haul requires much more than rapid hands on deck. It demands collaboration in new and unique ways.
We saw that yesterday.
So, thanks to all the lodges for stepping up, helping out, and showing these kids how it is done.
It was fun, too!
[I have some great pictures, but the interent here is eternally slow out here in the Bay, so I will post those when I return to Anchorage!]