New website focuses on British Columbia - Alaska transboundary watersheds and growing development pressures
November 04, 2013
“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.”