Crouched on the riverbank, I’m looking into the eyes of several large chum salmon, their heads and slithering bodies well above the water. Chum salmon are hefty fish, second only to king salmon in size. The spawning males have hooked jaws with sharp, canine-like teeth. Their mouths gape as they fin their bodies forward. Some become stranded in the shallows. They twist, jackknife their bodies, and leap to reach deeper water.
The clear water of the stream offers a great chance to see these colorful fish. The males, some of them ten-pounders, have flashing plum stripes streaking across their silver-green bodies. Each fish has a unique psychedelic, tie-dyed pattern of colors. The females’ coloring is more subdued, with a dark stripe running along the midline of their silvery bodies.
–A Wild Promise: Prince William Sound by Debbie S. Miller, photography by Hugh Rose
Nestled below the mountains of the Chugach National Forest in southcentral Alaska, Prince William Sound contains a priceless gem—the Nellie Juan–College Fiord Wilderness Study Area. Within this wild expanse of over two million acres, roughly the size of Yellowstone National Park, tidewater glaciers tumble from dramatic peaks and a temperate rainforest hosts a rich array of wildlife including bald eagles, bears, salmon, seabirds, and whales, which thrive in and around the nutrient-rich Sound.
In A Wild Promise, Debbie Miller’s eloquent prose and Hugh Rose’s striking images take you to the glacier-carved fjords and lush forests of the Nellie Juan, guiding you through the region’s natural, human, and cultural history along the way. You’ll kayak up College Fiord, where the Chugachmiut people have lived for more than four thousand years; you’ll see how much has changed—or not—since John Muir ventured there in 1899. After almost four decades of being in limbo as a designated wilderness study area, the fate of this spectacular, wild place is now in our hands. Its protection is a gift we can offer generations to come—a promise of wilderness, beauty, and natural diversity that we can, indeed, keep.
“An informative, entertaining, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read for the armchair traveler, A Wild Promise: Prince William Sound… is a clarion call to arms for conservationists. Beautifully composed both in terms of commentary and illustration [it] is unreservedly and urgently recommended.” –Helen Dumont of Midwest Book Review
A lover of wild places, Debbie Miller has written about Alaska’s wilderness and wildlife for more than four decades. She is the author of Midnight Wilderness: Journeys in Alaska’s Arctic
[Editor’s note. Spotlight on Alaska Books is an occasional series submitted directly by authors and publishers. If you are a current or former Alaskan, we’d like to know about your book. Read the submission guidelines.]