It's been said that strong fences make good neighbors. But those neighbors need to lean across that fence and talk to ensure a safe, clean, and peaceful neighborhood. That's what Sarah Palin tried to do on one of her last days in office when she wrote to the government of British Columbia urging a timely halt to highly toxic acid mine drainage (AMD) flowing from the abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine into the Taku River watershed. For over 50 years, the mine has been polluting this transboundary watershed with AMD that Canadian regulatory agencies found to be "acutely lethal" to aquatic organisms.
Palin has been a strong mining industry supporter and often did not treat salmon conservation efforts as a priority. Thus, her July 1 letter to British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell is a clear demonstration of the importance of the Taku watershed to Alaska. The Taku is Southeast Alaska's most productive salmon river and often one of the top five in the state, hosting up to two million salmon annually. These fish support 400 fishing jobs and provide over $7 million annually to the local economy, according to a 2004 report by the Juneau-based McDowell Group. Taku salmon also provide significant opportunities for sport, subsistence, and personal use fishing in the Juneau area.