While past polls by anti-mine groups have found as many as three-quarters of Bristol Bay residents opposing Pebble, there is still a lot of uncertainty. As state senator Gary Stevens, whose district includes the villages closest to the site and who chaired the Senate Resources Committee hearing, told me, "Sentiment is pretty evenly divided between those who want the jobs and the development and those who see preserving the salmon as the most important thing. There are no easy answers here." One woman he ran into in King Salmon told him, "What I want you to do is to keep these jobs going until it looks like the mine is going to be developed. And then I want you to kill it."
Bloom, for her part, is busy getting ready for the 2009 fishing season, having spent much of the winter traveling around the state, giving presentationsand even attending a dinner with the chairman of Anglo American's board. When we last spoke, she was setting out on a plane trip around southwest Alaska with former state senator Rick Halford to hold community meetings at native villages. The opposition's best hope? That the legislature will act to protect Bristol Bay from development. If it doesn't, another clean-water ballot measure could go to a vote in August 2010. "I never thought I'd get this deep into Alaskan politics or be flying around Bristol Bay with the former senate president in a private plane," Bloom said, "but I'm getting my education."
She still has fish from last season in her freezer. "We actually had salmon last night. Sockeye from Ugashik."