Protecting Four Pristine Rivers From Rapid Mining Development

Taku River. Creative Commons

The region encompassing South East Alaska and North West British Columbia is the world’s last and largest intact temporal rainforest. Four major pristine rivers, the Alsek, Taku, Stikine, and Unuk feed the salmon forest and sustain local communities.

British Columbia has embarked on a massive initiative to develop several large open pit mines in the Canadian headwaters of these crucial rivers. The new NW Transmission Line and BC Hydro project power these mines. 

BC borrowed $38 billion of public money and expects to recoup the cost by rubber-stamping 10-12 new mines. BC’s weak environmental safeguards and lack of enforcement combined with no engagement from Canadian or U.S. federal governments creates a significant risk to downstream fisheries and the continued existence of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tshimian peoples. 

The ultimate goal is to get both federal governments to act under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and invoke an International Joint Commission to govern the transboundary region. Meanwhile, these mines are rushing through development and permitting.

To address this gap, this project will leverage the ability of the sovereign indigenous governments on both sides of the border to enter into government-to-government relationships designed to create cross-border unity in opposition, remove the mining company’s social license to operate, and to require consultation and consent of Alaska Natives and Canadian First Nations. 

Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. Our work is divided into six main program areas – Wildlands Conservation, Oceans Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Transforming California, and Innovative Solutions.

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