Project Report:
The Pebble Mine & the Economic Implications for Tourism in Southcentral Alaska
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Investigates causes tending to destroy or impair the free-market system.


Lower Cook Inlet boasts a world-class population of brown bears (Ursus arctos) which drive a thriving, non-consumptive bear-viewing industry. The region includes Katmai National Park and the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary & Refuge. The proposed Pebble mine would industrialize the heart of this unparalleled bear habitat with a large deepwater port facility and accompanying infrastructure. This development would invariably impact a sustainable bear-viewing industry, but to date, we do not understand the investments behind or the revenue generation from such operations. This project aims to quantify the investments in and revenues from bear viewing, to help level the playing field in the debate our Pebble mine development.

Bear Viewing Tourism


February 2019 Update: Inletkeeper has created a project team involving World Wildlife Fund, National Parks Conservation Alliance, Salmon State, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and various local bear biologists and bear viewing guides/businesses. In December 2018, Inletkeeper entered a contract to conduct economic studies pursuit to this proposal with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and we are now working with them to conduct the surveys and collect the data needed to produce a draft report in April 2019. The project team is also working on an outreach plan to disseminate the results of the study, and to ensure it gets considered during the EIS process for the proposed Pebble Mine. The final economic study will be completed by August 2019.

Mt. Augustine Volcano, seen from the proposed Pebble Mine Port
Mt. Augustine Volcano, seen from the proposed Pebble Mine Port


This project will investigate the causes of economic imbalances in the permitting process for the Pebble mine by driving the value of non-consumptive bear viewing into the state and federal regulatory decisions that will shape project development. It will also investigate the causes tending to distort the free market system by internalizing the costs and impacts from the Pebble mine on bear viewing businesses and clients into the permitting process.


Alaska is the largest state in the nation, and contains more untapped mineral resources then all the Lower 48 states combined. The Pebble Project has become the most significant conservation battle in Alaska since statehood in 1959, and largely as a result, it's also prompted a large and engaged nationwide following. As a result, this project has statewide and national implications, and will serve as a litmus test for the development of large scale mining projects in sensitive and lucrative fish and wildlife habitat.

Amount Approved
$25,000.00 on 8/1/2018 (Check sent: 8/27/2018)

Pebble Mine Transportation Corridor

Mt. Augustine Volcano, seen from the proposed Pebble Mine Port
Pebble Mine Transportation Corridor
Bear Viewing Economics Study (PDF)
Bear Viewing Tourism

3734 Ben Walters Lane
Homer, AK 99603

(907) 235-4068 ext 21
(907) 235-4069 (fax)


Sue Mauger
Science & Executive Director, Cook Inletkeeper

Posted 3/31/2018 1:50 PM
Updated   6/27/2019 12:49 PM

  • Nonprofit

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