WildArk Announces Grizzly Plains Conservancy

In Bristol Bay, Alaska

WildArk is excited to announce our third conservation project Grizzly Plains Conservancy on the Kvichak River, in Bristol Bay, Alaska. © Corey Wilson/ WildArk.

WildArk is excited to announce its latest project in partnership with the Igiugig community on Lake Iliamna, Alaska. Phase 1 of the project named “Grizzly Plains” will secure a vital piece of land on the shore of the Kvichak River, one of the most important rivers in the greater Bristol Bay Salmon fishery, which is the largest natural Salmon fishery in the world. Phase 2 will expand out into a larger conservation area.

The Grizzly Plains project, led by the people of Igiugig, will be looking at increasing conservation, cultural, education and ecotourism initiatives across their homeland to help preserve the incredible biodiversity of the region, with Grizzly Bears, Wolves, Bald Eagles, Caribou and Moose just some of the iconic species that share the land with the people.

Large schools of salmon viewed from the air. The fish, wildlife and wilderness are abundant in the untouched Bristol Bay area. © Corey Wilson/ WildArk

The Igiugig lands have seen human habitation for over 8,000 years, with wildlife and people living in a sustainable symbiosis and all thriving off the precious resource of the immense Salmon runs that come in each Summer.

Grizzly Bears play on the Arctic Tundra. © Corey Wilson/ WildArk

The fishery, the people and the wildlife of the Lake Iliamna region are at threat by a 3,000ft deep, 2-mile wide open pit Copper Mine, The Pebble Limited Partnership, LLC, which if given the green light to excavate billions tons of ore, would potentially destroy the delicate watershed ecosystem and with it the Salmon fishery that all life depends on.

The Grizzly Plains project is just one of many conservation initiatives out in this region and WildArk hopes to do its part in helping the Igiuigig people ensure a long-term, sustainable future for their way of life and that of the wildlife, that have successfully co-existed for 1,000’s of years.

(Top) Igiugig Village Council President Alex Anna Salmon. (Bottom Left) AlexAnna and (bottom right) AlexAnna and her sister Christina were born and raised here, and are advocates for environmental protection and sustainability within their community. © Corey Wilson/ WildArk

“There is no place in the world like Igiugig, where the water is so pure we drink it straight from the Kvichak River,” says AlexAnna Salmon, Village Council President for Igiugig.

“For the past decade, we have been seeking the right partners to pursue conservation that is community driven yet protects for the greatest biodiversity. Today, we are one step closer to achieving this monumental goal and we are honored to work with WildArk.”

A Grizzly Bear enters the river in search of Salmon. © Corey Wilson/

“The Grizzly Plains initiative is the an amazing opportunity to forge deep, long-lasting partnerships with the Igiugig Community, local NGO’s and business operators,” says WildArk founder Mark Hutchinson

“Having travelled and worked in Alaska since 2000, seeing this project come to fruition is a dream. Being able to spend time with Salmon sisters, Karl Hill and other members of the Igiugig community has been a privilege and seeing how they conduct their lives, preserve their culture and care for their land has taught us a great deal. Also seeing my old mate Brian Kraft at Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge become such a dedicated voice for conservation in the region has been inspiring.”

WildArk founder Mark Hutchinson has been traveling to this region for 20 years and has realised his dream in Grizzly Plains Conservancy to protect this wilderness area from development. © Corey Wilson/ WildArk

World Surfing Champion and WildArk Ambassador Mick Fanning accompanied the latest WildArk expedition to visit the Bristol Bay region and meet with the Igiugig Community.

Fanning said, “Now that I’ve retired, and experienced a whole lot of life, I can see the effects of what we are doing to the earth and I just feel like we need to think carefully about our impact.”

“I have only visited Alaska on a few occasions, but I have been so attracted by the pure nature and the wildlife of the region. This land and location at Bristol Bay is incredible, the river provides so much for bears, wolves, eagles everything, it’s all here. To have the opportunity to come back and help preserve the land has been an incredible experience.”

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