As I share this update on all that we’ve achieved in the last year, I want to first express my deep gratitude for your support, encouragement and dedication to our vision for Alaska. Your generosity continues to inspire and empower us to protect nature for its own sake and its ability to enrich our lives.
Nature has an outsized effect on so many aspects of life in Alaska. For everyone who loves this place, and for all whose way of life draws on the wealth of Alaska’s lands and waters, the health of our natural systems is fundamental. In this time of a changing climate and volatile ocean trends, our work has never been more urgent.
Last summer, reports from many of Alaska’s wild salmon systems had us rapt with attention. In Bristol Bay, astonishingly robust sockeye runs filled nets and smashed records, delivering the largest return since record keeping began in 1893. Meanwhile, the summer left some Alaska fishing communities with more questions than answers. Copper River sockeye returns were the second worst in 120 years. In the Alaska Peninsula village of Chignik Lagoon, families waited for a sockeye run that never appeared. And across Alaska, Chinook salmon returns remain a fraction of historic averages.
These are the uncertainties we face. We can’t expect to tackle them on our own. What we have done and will continue to do is build relationships among diverse sectors to find solutions essential to the future of Alaska’s lands and waters.
We see the narratives of responsible development and conservation as an evolving dialogue in Alaska. For all of our 30 years in Alaska, The Nature Conservancy has focused on possibilities, and you’ll see this up close in our Impact Report, which you can download here (pdf).
Lastly, I thank you again for your appreciation for Alaska’s wild places, your dedication to conserving lands and waters, and your support for our mission in this place we know and love.
Steve Cohn, Alaska State Director