SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

New website focuses on British Columbia - Alaska transboundary watersheds and growing development pressures


November 04, 2013
Monday PM

(SitNews) Victoria, British Columbia, Canada -  The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre and Rivers Without Borders unveiled a collaborative website, Wild Border Watersheds. This new website aims to both raise awareness of the extraordinary conservation values of the transboundary watersheds shared by British Columbia and Alaska, and to highlight the growing development pressures on those watersheds. The website is also a framework to highlight the recently revised Canadian and British Columbian regulatory processes for mining and hydroelectric permitting and environmental assessment.

“The website is called Wild Border with good reason” says Will Patric, Executive Director of Rivers Without Borders. “The transboundary region of northwest British Columbia and southeast Alaska embodies some of the wildest country left on the planet. In a time of diminishing wild salmon, the international watersheds here rank among the top salmon producers on the West Coast. And in a time of accelerated climate change, the significance of these still largely intact ecosystems as reservoirs of biodiversity can hardly be overstated.”

“This website focuses on a region of North America that is under unprecedented resource development pressure,” says Chris Tollefson, Executive Director of the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre. “The website will enhance the public’s ability to stay abreast of these developments, and participate effectively in the many regulatory approval and environmental assessment processes that lie ahead for this region.”

Numerous mining and energy projects are currently targeting transboundary watershed headwaters and tributaries. British Columbia’s Northwest Transmission Line, now under construction, is bringing industrial power north into the region to facilitate development.

At the same time, scientists are increasingly pointing out that transboundary rivers like the Taku, Stikine and Unuk, with diverse and interconnected mountains-to-sea habitat, are extremely important climate change sanctuaries for fish and wildlife. They are also profoundly important to First Nations and communities in the region that depend on the rivers. While their mineral and energy development potential may be substantial, so too is the intrinsic worth of keeping them intact, sustaining commercial and sport fishing, subsistence uses, clean water, recreation and tourism.

“With this new website we hope to create broader public awareness of these spectacular and threatened watersheds,” says Patric. “We want to encourage ecosystem-based planning for their future because what happens in one part of a watershed can impact the entire river system.”

On the Web:

Wild Border Watersheds

Source of News: 

Environmental Law Centre (ELC)

The Environmental Law Centre (ELC) is a non-profit society that operates the ELC Clinic at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law. Under the supervision of a senior environmental lawyer, ELC Clinic students provide pro bono legal representation and legal assistance to community/conservation groups and First Nations; produce citizen handbooks and other public legal education materials; and advocate on a wide range of environmental law reform issues.

Rivers Without Borders

Rivers Without Borders is the only conservation organization working in both the U.S. and Canada which is focused on the British Columbia – Alaska transboundary region. In a time of declining wild salmon populations, diminishing biodiversity, and climate change pressures, Rivers Without Borders promotes awareness of the extraordinary ecological and cultural values of the watersheds shared by British Columbia and Alaska and strives to protect those values.

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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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