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One of the most prominent features in the Copper River watershed landscape is the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). TAPS crosses five major tributaries to the Copper, all of which are salmon spawning rivers. Residents of this region fear a spill from a pipeline breach could quickly end up in the main stem of the Copper River and damage spawning and migratory habitat of the world-famous Copper River salmon. “We eat fish, we don’t eat money” said Ray Neely, Alaska Native, Council Member, Gulkana Village Council (April 21, 2006 stakeholder meeting).
Based on our experience attempting to reduce the risks posed by TAPS for the Copper River watershed, the CRWP and several partners are working to create a prototype model of citizens’ oversight for the entire Trans-Alaska Pipeline System by focusing initially on the lower fifth of the pipeline that traverses the Copper River drainage.
No containment site exists for the Copper River, yet current response times indicate that in several locations oil will likely reach the Copper River before Initial Response Teams arrive at existing containment sites.
Resolutions passed in support of citizen oversight for TAPS:
The Copper River Watershed Project has been working with other stakeholder groups along the TAPS corridor to convene resources and identify opportunities for engaging citizens in oversight efforts. The following is a list of organizations who have passed formal resolutions in support of independent citizen oversight.
For information on how your group can pass a resolution in support of citizen oversight of TAPS, contact Kate Morse at CRWP.
- Alaska Wilderness Recreation & Tourism Association Resolution in support of a citizen oversight council.
- Copper Country Alliance Resolution in support of a citizen oversight council.
- Copper River Watershed Project Resolution in support of a citizen oversight council.
- Cordova District Fishermen United Resolution in support of a citizen oversight council.
- Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association in support of a citizen oversight council.
- The Native Village of Eyak. Contact Kate Morse at CRWP for a copy of this resolution.