A person familiar with the thinking of the president’s son said he had spent time in Bristol Bay and believed that digging the mine near the sensitive fisheries could result in serious damage if there were an accident involving potentially toxic tailings at the mine. It was unclear whether he had mentioned his concerns to the president recently, but the person said Donald Trump Jr. had raised it several times since the 2016 election.
Nanci Morris Lyon, a fishing guide and the co-owner of Bear Trail Lodge on the Naknek River near Bristol Bay, hosted Donald Trump Jr., his son Donald III and his brother Eric Trump in July 2014 for Eric Trump’s bachelor party.
Ms. Lyon, who said she had been an outspoken opponent of the mine for more than a decade, spent a lot of time with the Trumps over 10 days. “I’ll guarantee you he heard about Pebble Mine,” she said, referring to Donald Trump Jr. “Because if you go fishing with me, you’re going to hear about it.”
Ms. Lyon said that Donald Trump Jr. and his brother were “very grateful” to have had the experience of fishing in such an untouched, wild place. “They truly got it,” she said. “They understood how ludicrous this expansive mine was.”
Mr. Ayers did not respond to questions about why he opposed the mine. But in his tweet, he claimed common cause with “millions of conservationists and sportsmen” and said that allowing the Pebble Mine project to go forward would “unnecessarily mine the USA’s greatest fishery at a severe cost.”
The White House declined to comment, referring questions to the Corps of Engineers, which said in a statement that “it is inappropriate for us to comment on opinions, to speculate on potential outcomes of our deliberations in response to media inquiries or to answer technical questions.”
Mike Heatwole, a spokesman for the Pebble Partnership, the company developing the mine, said the recently completed environmental review “shows that both Donald Trump Jr. and Nick Ayers are wrong.” The review, he noted, “concludes that Pebble Mine will not harm the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. “