Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 29, 2016

Contact:  Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 844-7108,
Dune Lankard, (907) 952-5265,

Center for Biological Diversity Hires Tribal Leader, Conservationist, Fisherman,
'Hero for the Planet' Dune Lankard as New Alaska Representative

ANCHORAGE, Alaska— The Center for Biological Diversity has hired Dune Lankard, an Alaska Athabaskan Native from the Eyak tribe with a distinguished history of community and environmental activism, as its representative in Alaska. Lankard grew up subsistence and commercial fishing in the Copper River Delta and Prince William Sound until 1989, when the Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated the region and dedicated Lankard to the cause of wild salmon habitat preservation. He has started several conservation campaigns and nonprofits, served on the boards of environmental and tribal organizations, and been widely lauded for his tireless work.

“Dune Lankard brings a wealth of local knowledge and organizing experience to the Center,” said Miyoko Sakashita, the Center’s oceans program director. “Alaska is ground zero on issues from climate change to habitat preservation. Dune has been doing outstanding work for decades, and we’re thrilled to be working with him.”

As a commercial fisherman, tribal leader and committed conservationist, Lankard operates in an intersection that is crucial to Alaska’s future. Lankard founded the Copper River Wild Salmon Company and works with local fishermen on sustainable practices. He is the founder and chair of the NATIVE Conservancy Land Trust and the Cordova-based Eyak Preservation Council; he has worked on successful campaigns to prevent resource-extraction roadways across the Copper River Delta and, with grassroots and statewide organizations, helped preserve 765,000 acres of wild salmon habitat in the Exxon Valdez oil-spill zone.

In 1998 Lankard — aka Jamachakih, or “little bird that screams loud and won’t shut up” — reunited the Eyak Traditional Elders Council, which later won a key Alaska Supreme Court case preserving 75,000 acres of Eyak rainforest. Time magazine named him to its “Heroes for the Planet” list in 1999, and in 2009 Utne magazine cited him among its “Visionaries Who Are Changing the World.” Dune is also an Ashoka fellow and a Prime Movers fellow, recognized for his social-change and entrepreneurial work.

“I’m excited to be working with the Center on our shared mission,” Lankard said. “The more we protect the intrinsic rights of indigenous and all people, the better chance we have of preserving our remaining green strips of habitat that support thriving sustainable communities and economies that depend on irreplaceable pristine lands and oceans.”

Lankard will help the Center continue its work in Alaska to preserve habitat for salmon and other wildlife, prevent destructive logging practices in the Tongass National Forest, protect endangered species such as the polar bear and Cook Inlet beluga, and help Alaskans stop new offshore-oil projects and deal with the effects of climate change.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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