Alaska voters weighing in: salmon vs. gold

By BECKY BOHRER | October 2, 2011 | 11:05 AM EDT

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The battle over a copper and gold mine near one of the world's premiere fisheries is headed to the ballot.

The vote has turned a normally sleepy local election into a national environmental debate.

Voters in southwest Alaska's Lake and Peninsula Borough are deciding whether to ban large-scale resource extraction activity, including mining, that would destroy or degrade salmon habitat. The measure is aimed at Pebble Mine, the world-class gold-and-copper prospect near the headwaters of Bristol Bay.

The debate surrounding Pebble has attracted the attention of chefs, Robert Redford and big-name jewelers who have vowed not to sell any gold coming from the project

But Tuesday's vote will almost certainly not be the last word on how — or whether — the mine gets built.