Just 40 miles west of Anchorage, the Chuitna watershed remains a true Alaskan wilderness teeming with bears, wolves, moose, and one of the world’s last great wild Pacific salmon populations. But there’s trouble on the horizon. PacRim Coal has proposed building one of the United States’ largest surface coalmines directly through the salmon-rich headwaters of the Chuitna. This first-of-its-kind project would dig 300 feet deep, through 13.7 miles of prolific salmon habitat and through hundreds of acres of pristine wetlands, forests and bogs. The Flyfish Journal’s Paul Moinester traveled to the region to talk to the people, walk the rivers and report on this crucial environmental struggle.

Words: Paul Moinester

Beluga, Alaska, is the Cuba of the American frontier. Ushered by a bush plane into another era, the 40-minute flight from Anchorage serves as a journey back in time. As the tires grip the gravel of the tiny outpost runway, you are thrust into a world devoid of modernity.Subscribe to start your collection of the world’s best flyfishing publication.


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