Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Support business (Downstream and up) good for our environment

I've been a member of Trout Unlimited [TU] longer than I've lived in Minnesota. Yesterday, as I was doing some tidying around the house, I took a break and started browsing through the Spring 2015 issue of Trout, TU's magazine, "when what to my wondering eyes should appear" but a story on America's Most Trout (and Salmon) Friendly Companies." I expected to find Orvis near the top of the list, and it was. I sure as hell didn't expect to find a handful of mining companies being praised by an organization whose mission is "to conserve, protect and restore North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds," but there they were.
  • "...Tiffany [& Co] is famed among the fishes for investing millions of dollars into helping clean up abandoned mines." "When the EPA announced its decision to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine, Tiffany & Co. ran full-page advertisements in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and Seattle Times, underscoring its support of that decision.
    "We know there will be other gold and copper mines to develop. But we will never find a more majestic and productive place than Bristol Bay."

  • "Freeport-McMoRan is likely the world's largest mining company, and it has had its issues with pollution. But when Freeport's CEO, Richard Adkerson, learned of TU's work to clean up abandoned mines in the West, he and his team made a three-year commitment that will allow us [TU], for the first time to perhaps recover a native trout species that had been extirpated by historic mining in southwestern Colorado."

  • "Phosphate mining companies aren't top of mind when it comes to native fish restoration, but The J.R. Simplot Company and two other phosphate-mining companies are working with TU to help recover Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the Blackfoot River in Idaho." (Not the same Blackfoot River as the one in Montana made famous in A River Runs Through It.)
St. Louis River -- majestic enough for you?
St. Louis River -- majestic enough for you?
Photo by J. Harrington

Obviously, from TU's perspective, not all mines and not all mining companies are evil. I feel the same way, but I'm terribly disappointed that those involved with PolyMet, nor, as far as I can see, those who support its development, are listed by TU. That list, by the way, isn't limited to large, highly profitable companies, just as Minnesota's own Downstream Business Coalition is comprised of local small businesses who recognize that we all have a stake in and depend on an unpolluted, quality environment. I'm going to make it a point to support as many of those businesses as I can, because I too recognize that we're all in this together.

St. Louis River estuary -- Duluth harbor
St. Louis River estuary -- Duluth harbor
Photo by J. Harrington

TU's story ends with these words "... we hope you take time to understand and appreciate how some of the rods you cast, boots you wear in the water and other things you use to catch fish, have an awful lot to do with making sure those fish are there to catch in the first place." The number of businesses that support conservation organizations is growing. It's up to those of us who care about our environment to support businesses who share our values and walk the conservation talk. If such businesses don't succeed, they can't help us conserve, protect and restore the only world we have.

On the highly unlikely chance that Governor Dayton will ever read this, or the slightly less improbable chance someone might call it to his attention, please, Governor, especially note what Tiffany & Co. wrote about Pebble Bay. Are the Boundary Waters and the St. Louis River and their watersheds any less worthy of protection? Aren't they as majestic and locally productive as Bristol Bay? If not them, then what in Minnesota would be?


By Naomi Shihab Nye 
The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so.   

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   
watching him from the birdhouse.   

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   

The idea you carry close to your bosom   
is famous to your bosom.   

The boot is famous to the earth,   
more famous than the dress shoe,   
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.   

I want to be famous to shuffling men   
who smile while crossing streets,   
sticky children in grocery lines,   
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   
but because it never forgot what it could do.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.