May 06 2013 »
Fortune Minerals Needs An Environmental Assessment!
The last thing standing in the way of protecting the Sacred Headwaters is Fortune Mineral's plans for an open-pit coalmine right smack-dab in the middle of the Klappan! Actually, it's right on Mt. Klappan where the first Sacred Headwaters Gathering was held. You can read about it here.
DEADLINE 9pm PST TONIGHT!!!!!! So you gotta take action now!
We need you to email the Canadian Environmental Assessment Office, don't worry - we've filled out the letter for you. Feel free to add your own voice and your own words!!
We've included the letter that SWCC submitted to the Environmental Assessment Office with more detail if you'd like to read all the reasons why we're concerned. Thanks for helping us out.
WHAT YOU CAN SEND:
YOUR NAME ETC.
123 skeena street
hazelton, BC V0J 1Y1
Arctos Anthracite Project
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
410 - 701 West Georgia Street
Vancouver BC V7Y 1C6
SUBJECT: Request for a Federal Environmental Assessment of the Proposed Arctos Anthracite Project, in Northwestern British Columbia.
Dear CEAA Office,
As a resident of the Skeena watershed I am deeply concerned about the potential impacts from all major development projects occurring in my watershed.
I believe that the proposed Arctos Anthracite Coal Mine, including the landscape-level power and transportation infrastructure required, qualifies as a major project which deserves the highest level of environmental and social management available from the Canadian government.
To my knowledge, the highest environmental and social review for a major project exists in the form of a Federal Canadian Environmental Assessment and Joint Review Panel.
I request that a Federal Canadian Environmental Assessment and Joint Review Panel be initiated for the Arctos Anthracite Project.
I do not believe that a substituted BC Environmental Assessment (BC EAO) is capable of effectively considering the full range of the project's historic, current and future implications to the regional watersheds.
WHAT WE SENT:
May 6, 2013
Arctos Anthracite Project
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
410 - 701 West Georgia Street
Vancouver BC V7Y 1C6
Arctos Anthracite Project
1) Determination of the Requirement for an Environmental Assessment;
2) Notice of Request for Substitution of the Proposed Arctos Anthracite Project.
It is our opinion that the proposed Arctos Anthracite mine and the proposed completion and upgrade of the BC Rail are two separate projects and should not be lumped together as described in the project description. We request that CEAA conduct a federal environmental assessment under CEAA 2012 for the proposed Arctos Anthracite mine, and a separate federal environmental assessment under CEAA 2012 for the completion and upgrade of the BC Rail.
Due to the high fisheries and habitat values; high wildlife and habitat values; previous damage to fish habitats, wildlife habitats, and cultural heritage; and the recognized need to protect the Sacred Headwaters; existing environmental, socio-cultural, and economic values need to be carefully considered and balanced.
The Technical Report on the 2012 Update of the Arctos Anthracite Project Mine Feasibility Study notes the need to upgrade the BC Rail track from Minaret to Fort St. James. However, the Arctos project description notes only the need to complete the grade and track from Minaret north to Mount Klappan. There is no known reason why this inconsistency exists. Since 1977, and into the present, the abandoned BC Rail grade from Dease Lake south to Lovell Cove on Takla Lake produces adverse effects with impacts to water quality, wildlife, fisheries, and sense of place.
Wildlife values, particularly centered on the southern Spatsizi caribou herd, have been significantly degraded. The southern Spatsizi caribou herd is included in the SARA listing regarding Northern Mountain Woodland Caribou and the accompanying management plan. The southern Spatsizi caribou herd is listed as a special concern.
We do not believe that the BC Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO) is capable of considering federal concerns in the present environmental assessment process. First, BC EAO only receives comments and does not respond to comments given, and as such, there is no dialogue of concerns and issues. Second, as noted in the BC Auditor General report (July 2011), post-certification activities are almost nil, meaning commitments are not written in an enforceable manner, there is no follow-up policy, monitoring and compliance are not implemented, and evaluations of mitigation efforts are not conducted. Further, the Auditor General found that “information provided to the public is not sufficient to ensure accountability.” Basically, there is a lack of public trust in the BC EAO process, both pre and post-certificate.
We require a Joint Review Panel by CEAA in regard to the proposed Arctos Anthracite mine project, and a separate JRP by CEAA for the proposed completion and upgrade of the BC Rail.
April 24 2013 » Home FeatureNews Clippings » Terrace Standard
Fortune Minerals needs to abandon its mine plan
By Shannon McPhail
Let’s go back to 2005.
Eskay Creek was winding down and Galore Creek was planning the next big mine but there was little certainty that anything would go through. The safe assumption would be that communities would jump at the chance for jobs in the mining sector on an emerging project like Fortune Minerals.
Three commonly known rules in building a successful business: Location, location, location.
Fortune’s open-pit coal mine they call Arctos Anthracite, proposed for Mt. Klappan, rises above the iconic valleys of the legendary Spatsizi Wilderness Plateau in the heart of the Sacred Headwaters. Generations old Tahltan hunting camps dot the caribou rich flanks and the headwaters of the Nass, Skeena and Stikine are visible from the summit.
Fortune Minerals pushed hard even though community members turned down their jobs and blockaded the company in order to protect the culture and hunting values they have at Mt. Klappan.
Like a bully in the playground, Fortune had 15 community members arrested, including 13 elders from Iskut. These arrests rattled the community and broke the hearts of the grandchildren who stood helpless as their grandparents were carted away in handcuffs. This sparked an international campaign to protect the area from large-scale industrial development.
It was Fortune’s arrests that uncovered Shell’s plans to drill for coalbed methane.
The Tahltan Nation collaborated with downstream residents to oppose Shell’s ill-conceived idea while Fortune waited quietly in the background. Municipal governments and First Nations from all three watersheds supported a unified campaign to protect the Headwaters. It didn’t make sense to transform the source of our wild salmon rivers into an industrial wasteland.
In 2008, the province responded with a four-year moratorium on coalbed methane in the headwaters.
In December 2012, Shell voluntarily withdrew its plans and the BC government permanently banned all future oil and gas activities citing, “The Klappan is an area that has been identified by the Tahltan Nation as having significant cultural, spiritual, and social values. It is also an area of vital salmon-bearing waterways such as the Stikine, Nass, and Skeena rivers, and as such has importance for all British Columbians who rely on those rivers.”
Just as Shell’s plans headed to the shredder and the BC government commits to a planning process with the Tahltan for the headwaters, Fortune Minerals rides in on its black horse kicking up dust in everyone’s eyes. The Tahltan and communities didn’t fight for 10 years to protect the headwaters so Fortune could proceed with an open-pit coalmine right in the heart of it.
The only thing standing in the way of permanent protection is Fortune Minerals.
Let’s have Fortune admit the truth, their mineral claims are in an unfortunate location. Their plan to reconstruct the 60-year-old crumbling railway from Fort St. James to Dease Lake and run 24,000 tonnes of coal every three days for 25 years is an irrevocable blow to the Klappan and upper Skeena river. That’s 100km of railway right beside our pristine Skeena as it flows from the Sacred Headwaters.
A 1977 BC Royal Commission into the condition of this abandoned railgrade regarded it, “...as one of the most serious unresolved environmental problems in British Columbia.”
Those problems continue to this day and Fortune’s proposed reconstruction of the railway for an industrial corridor would drastically increase the likelihood that other companies will jump on the train and pursue lesser known coal tenures scattered along the Skeena and its headwater tributaries. Our wild salmon and steelhead swimming through it all.
The mining sector has a whole lot going for it along Highway 37 – mining, exploration, hydro projects, transmission lines, etc. all moving forward. What we need in the Sacred Headwaters are healthy rivers, wild salmon and areas of cultural identity that we can share with our children.
Will Fortune Minerals continue to waste taxpayer time and money on this bad idea when we know it will never happen?
Shannon McPhail is the Executive Director of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition and the 2013 recipient of the Northern BC Community Enrichment Award.
April 21 2013 » Home FeatureMedia Releases
Enbridge Can’t Get Love, Even When They Pay For It
We are proud of our Executive Director, Shannon McPhail, who was nominated for Community Enrichment person of the year. She attended the Women of the North Business Conference and Awards Gala as a nominee and when she walked into the Prince George Civic Centre for the event, she was somewhat shocked at the audience. "There were a couple tables full of Enbridge people and when I looked at the Agenda for the conference I saw that some of the keynote speakers included Enbridge, Rio Tinto Alcan and I thought, what in the heck am I doing here?"
Shannon travelled 5 hours from Hazelton with her Mom and her Grandmother to Prince George for the event. It was 3 generations of northern women and 1 who had already claimed this very award years ago, "My mom won this award back in the 90's for all her volunteer work in the community. She started Canada's 2nd largest horse & rider drill team only surpassed in size by the RCMP musical ride, she hosted cowgirl camps at her home for kids who couldn't afford a horse of their own every summer for as long as I can remember, she's always had an open-door policy for anyone who needed a leg up and she has been the most incredible example for a daughter to witness. My Grandmother is so awesome that she was my maid-of-honour at my wedding! I didn't think there was much chance of me winning but it was nice to travel with such great ladies."
Feeling awkward and uncomfortable surrounded by Enbridge folks, Shannon couldn't help but think about leaving, "I really didn't want to be there. This was the very company who was force-feeding their project to my community, who has caused so much strife in other parts of the world with pipeline ruptures and failures to notice the ruptures and failures to clean them up properly. They are disrespectful to First Nations and they are everything that I am against, but there I was sitting politely amidst them eating my wild-salmon dinner."
Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism & Skills Training and Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice were the emcees for the evening and when Shannon's name was announced she was a bit taken aback, "I really didn't think I had much of a chance and thought it was nice just to be nominated. I didn't prepare any speech or even thought about the gist of what I wanted to say so I walked up to the stage, passed the tables of Enbridge and started to tremble. I couldn't accept this award and not say anything. It would have been easier at that point if I had not won, I didn't want to be disrespectful because there were some awesome women in the room who had accomplished amazing things."
Shannon is not the type to shy away from public speaking but this was something important and her nerves got the better of her and she was visibly nervous. She cracked a few jokes to relieve her own nervousness, got people laughing and then talked about facing the hard issues that are so prevalent in the north citing stastistics such as 70% rates of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in some schools, the highest teen suicide rate in Canada and she went on to say that these children are suffering and they are also costing the tax-payers a lot of money to deal with them. "It would cost the tax-payers less to face these issues and help these folks then it would be to just leave them on the street!" She then went onto to say that she wants the kind of economic development that helps bring people out of the margins and helps make them thriving, resilient community members and that Enbridge is proposing something that would only increase the disparity, "You are proposing something that is unwanted and unneccessary."
McPhail invited the women of Enbridge to her community and to her home as "women" but told them their pipeline is "unwelcome." She received the only standing ovation of the conference but the entire room didn't rise to applaud McPhail, there was some gratuitous clapping coming from the Enbridge tables but they didn't rise to their feet.
Once sitting back at her table, countless conference attendees gave her compliments and thanked her for speaking the truth. "It turned out that I wasn't in the lion's den after all, so many people came up that my nerves settled down and I finally stopped shaking."
McPhail closed her speech paying homage to her hometown, "It's my community that created me, who put me here and I would like to honour them with this award, they are my strength."
March 07 2013 » Home FeatureMedia Releases
Top 10 in Canada - Sacred Headwaters Collaborative Victory
Written by Karen Tam Wu from ForestEthics Advocacy and Shannon McPhail from Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition:
It is a great honour for our organizations to be recognized along with nine other incredible projects this year as Tides’ top innovators.
Creative, collaborative, compassionate, and community-‐supported is how we define our work at ForestEthics and Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. It is a privilege to share the stage with all the players who acted to prevent the Sacred Headwaters from becoming a sprawling gas field: the Tahltan First Nation, the government of British Columbia, and Shell.
We recognize the Tahltan were the first to draw the line in the sand, and courageously stand up against a project that would see the heart of their traditional territory forever transformed into an industrial maze of gas wells and roads. Check out their awesome press release about the award.
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition was instrumental in igniting communities along the Skeena; communities united in opposition to a project that would jeopardize critical salmon habitat.
ForestEthics played an essential role in bringing the stories of struggle from this little-‐known corner of British Columbia to the world, and to the boardrooms of government and Shell. Decision makers were driven to sit down with each other to resolve the conflict.
The government of British Columbia and Shell heeded the broad voices of opposition. We are pleased our campaigns’ message – at times hard-‐hitting, but always well intentioned and in good humour – was taken to heart, and that the government and Shell came to a creative solution.
December’s announcement protects the origins of culture and tradition for the Tahltan and other northwest First Nations; the headwaters of three wild salmon-‐ bearing rivers and the salmon upon which the Tahltan and downstream communities depend; habitat for countless key species, like grizzlies and caribou; sustainable economies; and a pristine wilderness in British Columbia for all Canadians.
Eight years ago, the story of the Sacred Headwaters started with a revolution – one where unlikely allies of First Nations, loggers, ranchers, and environmentalists came together with the common goal of preventing the development of natural gas in the unique area.
The revolution didn’t end this past December, it only just begun. British Columbia has continuously demonstrated innovative conservation. Let the decision to forgo development in the Sacred Headwaters serve as a reminder of how we protect environmental values in British Columbia that can be applied elsewhere. Our story should serve as a model where sustaining and enhancing a healthy planet and social well-‐being are the foundation for communities, government, and corporations to determine whether development should proceed, and not the basis for decade-‐long battles.
February 05 2013 » Media Releases
Harpoonist & Axe Murderer to Rock the Cabin & the Ballroom in the North
Oh my - nitty, gritty rock. Have a listen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqvAyGJoTrc
It's time to Dance!
Get out your fancy plaid, ugly ski sweaters and toques… you won't want to miss this one!
SkeenaWild in collaboration with Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition is very excited to bring you CABIN FEVER.
Headlining is the groovy Vancouver based blues duo The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer. They've been described as a sweaty fling between a sack full of harmonicas, a mess of foot percussion, and a very greasy Telecaster. Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers say they’re making blues for a changing world, but a fan put it even better: this is ‘blues that gets you in the crotch'.
Skeena watershed-grown, locally-loved, Hazelton-based band, The Racket, will be opening up the show. The Racket is currently in first place for the top 10 best teen band in BC! They consider themselves a Rock/Alternative/ Folk/Blues/Stomp Folk/Experimenting/Loud group that loves to play with sounds, techniques, and all the while, love straight-up rocking. Over the years, they’ve varied between a two-piece, a three-piece, a five-piece, and a six-piece band, collaborating with other local young artists. Playing late-night festival shows and playing with bands such as Maria in the Shower, Rachelle van Zanten, Adrian Glynn and Trooper, these guys have been around on the northwest scene for a while.
Get your tickets in advance at Misty River Books in Terrace or the SkeenaWild office.
Friday, February 8th at the Elks Hall in Terrace. Doors open at 8:30 pm.
Help spread the word: tell your friends, forward this email and join the event on Facebook!
Ph. 250.638.0998 | Fx. 250.638.0997 | Toll-Free 1.888.4SKEENA
Find you best corset or bustier, add in a gorgeous mask and you'll be ready for the ball! Think Labrynth or Eyes Wide Shut and get some great costume ideas. Add one of the best rockin' blues bands, the Kispiox Valley hall all decorated up like a ballroom and you've got yourself one heck of a party.
Tickets at Mercedes Beans and Mountain Eagle Books.
Call (250)842-2494 or firstname.lastname@example.org for info
February 04 2013 » Media Releases
Headwaters victory a model for Canada, Cullen tells capacity crowd
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 4, 2013
Headwaters victory a model for Canada, Cullen tells capacity crowd
KITSUMKALUM – It was standing room only Saturday afternoon as hundreds of people who stood up for their rivers crowded into Kitsumkalum Hall to celebrate the permanent ban on oil and gas development in the 400,000-hectare Sacred Headwaters.
“The fight to defend our rivers is a model for the entire country on how to find common ground,” MP Nathan Cullen told the roaring crowd. “We’ll never give up our headwaters.
“As the strong Tahltan women told me many years ago, these rivers are a source of life and part of who we are. It is our duty to defend them, today and always.”
Speaker after speaker at Saturday’s celebration praised the Sacred Headwaters as a precedent-setting model that balances resource development with cultural and ecological protection.
Prominent participants included Tahltan leaders and elders, First Nations leaders from across the Northwest, Skeena swimmer Ali Howard, NDP Opposition western fisheries critic Fin Donnelly, and area municipal and provincial leaders.
The day finished with traditional dancing as First Nations in full regalia and residents from across the North pooled their watershed waters in a symbolic mixing ceremony.
Cullen took a small jar of the mixed waters back to Ottawa, pledging to present it to Parliament as visual proof that, “There is a better way, Mr. Harper.
“There is a better way, Canada.”
- 30 -
Contact: Shelley Browne, email@example.com, 250-877-4140
February 02 2013 » News Clippings
A Speech for the Rally
A great letter received from one of our awesome northern residents
The Klappan, the Sacred Headwaters are safe! I breathe in deeply the freedom and joy this knowledge brings. Yet my heart is still heavy. The battle is won, but the war is not over. I am a reluctant soldier, a reluctant activist. I feel as though my home is under threat, that the forces of oil and gas, of our federal and provincial governments still loom over my head. I know that I am not alone and I am emboldened by the unity I feel from my community. I am brave and afraid all at the same time.
Common fear binds us together like glue. I’m reminded of when I went to the confluence of the Sweedin and Kispiox rivers way up the Kispiox Valley with my niece, her partner and my little grand-niece. We’d had a nice wander down the gravel bar and back up. Short of reaching our car, a grizzly came out of the bush on the far shore and upstream from us. The shoulder hump and dished face were easily recognizable. Instantly, what had been a happy and relaxed family ramble, where we were often lost in our private reveries, became a focussed solidarity. We were all afraid! My niece’s partner and I instantly stepped forward to protect mom and little one and we moved as a unit to the safety of the car.
This little scenario makes me think of British Columbians, if not Canadians in general being my little family and the grizzly, well, he would be Stephen Harper. If this man has accomplished anything in his reign, it is to galvanize us in common fear.
Stephen Harper has methodically and systematically pillaged our country with no apparent thought to the well-being of all Canadians. He has stripped us of many of our rights and freedoms, threatened us and intimidated us if we choose to publically disagree with him and his policies.
Canadians identify with their country. We take pride in our ‘true north strong and free’. We care about humpback whales and salmon, otters and bears, bald eagles and wolves, moose and deer. We feel as though we have bragging rights to a beautiful and awe inspiring land….. well, we used to feel that way. Now, I for one hang my head in shame. Oil and gas exploration, extraction and transportation have devastated this land. It is dirty energy at the high and unforgivable cost of our people’s lives and the destruction of the wild land we yearn to protect.
Yes, we share a common fear, but we are much greater than this fear, we are strong and resilient and we will stop this madness.
January 31, 2013
December 20 2012 » Home Feature
3-minute recipe to kick the world’s largest oil company out of your watershed
Produced by Brian Huntington
United communities + love for our watershed + local action = zero drilling in the Sacred Headwaters x infinity!
Share and spread the good news!
December 18 2012 » Media Releases
Historic protection for BC’s Sacred Headwaters Announced
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 18 DECEMBER 2012
Contact - Melyssa Rubino, firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-331-6201, ext 227
Historic protection for BC’s Sacred Headwaters Announced: Major victory in campaign that puts local communities over corporate profit
Coalbed methane development to be permanently banned from headwaters of major salmon rivers VANCOUVER - The B.C. government announced today that Shell would be withdrawing its plans to develop coalbed methane in the Klappan-Groundhog tenure area in northwest British Columbia. The government will also not issue oil and gas tenures in the area in the future.
“Eight years ago, northern B.C. communities joined together to say ‘no’ to coalbed methane and ‘yes’ to wild salmon,” said Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition executive director Shannon McPhail. “Today is an incredible day for residents of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine watersheds. We are grateful and proud that First Nations and communities from the watersheds came and stood together. The B.C. government and Shell deserve recognition for listening to these communities and making a decision that will protect salmon cultures and livelihoods.”
This region, better known as the Sacred Headwaters, became the source of controversy in 2004, when Shell drilled three test wells in the area. Blockades and public rallies across the northwest ensued in 2005 and 2006. International protests were also held at Royal Dutch Shell headquarters in The Hague. Due to opposition, the Province imposed a moratorium on coalbed methane development in the area in 2008, which was set to expire on December 18.
“Shell has backed away from a project only a handful of times. The powerful, relentless movement led by the courageous Tahltan and supported by nearly 100,000 people from around the world has not only stopped Shell, but persuaded the BC government to permanently protect the region from any further gas development,” said ForestEthics Advocacy senior conservation campaigner Karen Tam Wu. “It’s an inspiring day when communities in northern B.C. can stand up to one of the largest oil companies in the world and win. Congratulations to the Tahltan, and to the citizens and government of British Columbia.”
Highlights of the campaign to protect the Sacred Headwaters include: - International attention on the conflict by generating nearly 100,000 signatures from around the world - Several international actions in the Netherlands - Meeting directly with Shell Canada President - High level government relations - The first ever swim of the entire length of Skeena River.
The Sacred Headwaters is located in northwest British Columbia, about 600 kilometres north of Terrace, B.C. The region is home to a diversity of wildlife, such as grizzly bears, caribou and moose. Shell’s plans would have seen thousands of gas wells and thousands of kilometres of roads built at the headwaters of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine rivers—three of B.C.’s top salmon-producing rivers. The headwaters were listed on the Outdoor Recreation Council’s Most Endangered Rivers list for the past three years.
ForestEthics Advocacy and Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition would like to thank Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada for its work to create this solution for the Sacred Headwaters, and for their work building support for a vision of a low-carbon Canadian energy economy.
ForestEthics Advocacy is a non-profit society devoted to public engagement, outreach and environmental advocacy - including political advocacy. We secure large-scale protection of endangered forests and wild places and transform environmentally destructive resource- extraction industries.
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition is a non-profit society focused on cultivating a sustainable economy rooted in culture and a thriving wild salmon ecosystem. As residents of the region, we advocate for community-based decision-making regarding large industrial projects.
December 18 2012 » Media Releases » BC Government
Agreement brings resolution to gas tenure in Northwest
For Immediate Release
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas
Dec. 18, 2012
Agreement brings resolution to gas tenure in Northwest
VICTORIA – Today, the government of British Columbia joined the Tahltan Central Council (TCC) and Shell Canada (Shell) to announce an agreement has been reached to resolve the status of natural-gas tenure in the Klappan area of northwest B.C.
As part of a tripartite agreement, Shell Canada is immediately withdrawing plans to explore for natural gas in the Klappan by relinquishing its tenures. In addition, the Province of British Columbia will not issue future petroleum and natural-gas tenure in the area.
A separate agreement between government and industry will also lead to a new water recycling project – to be built by Shell – through the issuance of $20 million in royalty credits support by the Province of B.C. The terms of this arrangement were agreed upon between government and Shell in recognition of the lost, upfront capital spent by the company, in addition to rent payments already paid to the Crown on the Klappan tenures.
The Klappan is an area that has been identified by the Tahltan Nation as having significant cultural, spiritual, and social values. It is also an area of vital salmon-bearing waterways such as the Stikine, Nass, and Skeena rivers, and as such has importance for all British Columbians who rely on those rivers.
The tripartite agreement represents a step forward in discussions between the Province of British Columbia and the TCC about the long-term future of the Klappan area.
Rich Coleman, Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas
“The government of British Columbia would like to thank the Tahltan Central Council and Shell for their commitment to positive communications during the last few years. Together, we have put agreements in place that respect the interest of all three major parties and have tangible benefits for British Columbians.”
Ida Chong, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
“Resolution of concerns around the Klappan area is a significant step in this government’s relationship both with the Tahltan and with industry. We look forward to continued progress in working with Tahltan through our government-to-government relationship as we work together
on land and resource matters across the Tahltan territory, as well as more particularly within the Klappan area”.
Annita McPhee, president of the Tahltan Central Council
“We want to acknowledge Shell for its decision to respect the wishes of the Tahltan Nation by giving up its plans to develop coal-bed methane in the Klappan. The Klappan is one of the most sacred and important areas for our people. It is a place of tremendous cultural, spiritual, historic and social importance. Our people do not want to see it developed, and we look forward to working with B.C. on achieving permanent protection of the Klappan. ”
Lorraine Mitchelmore, president and country chair, Shell Canada Limited
“Close relations with Aboriginal communities are important to our many business opportunities in British Columbia, and we are pleased to have found common ground on our petroleum and natural-gas tenure in the Klappan. We now focus on growth opportunities with better commercial and geological prospects in Northeast British Columbia. Good water management is central to sustainable operations, and we thank the government of British Columbia for their contribution to this aspect of our exploration and production activities.”
Royalty credits can be applied to an industry’s payment to government once the infrastructure they are approved for is operating. They are not an expenditure of provincial funds; they are deductions that are made to future royalties owed to government.
More information about the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas can be found at: www.gov.bc.ca/ener/
More information about the Tahltan Central Council can be found at: www.tahltan.org/ More information about Shell Canada can be found at: www.shell.ca
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas 250 952-0617
Robert McPhee Adviser
Tahltan Tribal Council 250 686-1883
Shell Media Relations Shell Canada Limited 1-877-850-5023 email@example.com
Klappan Coalbed Gas Field
In 2004, Shell Canada Limited acquired petroleum and natural gas rights covering more than 4,000 square kilometres in an area of Northwest British Columbia known as the Klappan. The area is within the Tahltan Nation traditional territory.
The area is of significance to the Tahltan/Iskut people for its cultural and wildlife values and contains the headwaters for the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers.
Shell drilled three exploration wells in the area in 2004-2005. Out of respect for concerns raised by the Tahltan Nation, Shell did not pursue further exploration activities in 2005-2006 to allow for further discussions within the Tahltan communities.
In 2008, Shell agreed to an amendment of its petroleum and natural-gas tenure, which suspended further exploration activities in the area for a minimum of two years with a maximum of four years.
Discussions have been taking place over the last few years to bring resolution to this situation. The agreement reached respects the interest of all three parties involved – the Tahltan Nation, Shell and the Province of British Columbia.
December 18 2012 »
SWCC Celebrates & Launches New T-Shirt Designs
We conducted a poll within the Sacred Headwaters Facebook group to decide which T-shirt design to print. The results were SO close that we went with both!
With today's announcement, we changed our "Get the Shell Out" shirts slightly (YEEHAW!)
Check 'em out and pick your size!
Drop by SWCC and get one, call us or email us your order!
(Cute models not included)
December 12 2012 » SWCC in the News
SWCC Christmas Garland of Joy!
This year we really got into the Christmas spirit and have sent all our supporters a "Happy Holidays" banner to adorn your home with fun Skeena facts and beautiful photos of rivers and wildlife.
We know most of you have received the banner as we've been getting flooded by emails and phone calls from our membership with rave reviews. We're SO glad you love it! All the love and gratitude you have sent us lights up our days and warms up our office.
Check out some pictures of the mailout that we've been sent so far and make sure you send yours!
It is so great to see our supporters getting into the Christmas spirit and getting behind the things they believe in. If you post a photo of your banner on our Facebook page, we will enter your name into a draw for one of our new T-shirt designs! Make sure to post on our facebook www.facebook.com/skeenawatershed and tag us in your post!
We're SO glad to see that a permanently protected Skeena Watershed is on your Christmas wish lists!
Thanks SO much to everyone who has already generously donated directly to SWCC in response to our mailout. This means so much to us! It means we can continue to kick-ass and do the work we need to do to protect this place and build a sustainable future for those that live here!
If you haven't already donated, now is a great time to show your support!
The first 50 people who donate $100 get a Leah Pipe print (retailing at $60!) There are 2 to choose from while supplies last: the Raven or the Salmon Mountain. So let's put that into perspective...for bumping your donation up to $100 you cover your $20 membership fee AND you get a $60 print.
If you haven't recieved your Xmas mailout, email us your mailing address and we'll get one sent out asap!
Thanks again and Merry Christmas from the SWCC family here in Hazelton
December 11 2012 » Home Feature
The Sacred Headwaters will be protected forever!
The government moratorium on coalbed methane drilling in B.C.'s Sacred Headwaters expired December 18, 2012. In the 10 days before the moratorium expired, 10 champions of the Sacred Headwaters spoke out on why this amazing place deserves protection and their voices were heard!
Read the press release HERE! and learn about the decision to permanently protect the Sacred Headwaters!
Read more about our Sacred Headwaters campaign HERE, the story of how community solidarity and action can halt industrial development plans that threaten our environment.
December 03 2012 » Home Feature
Q&A with local musician Rachelle Van Zanten about her new song
Rachelle Van Zanten talks to SWCC about her new song and its importance to her as an artist, mother and as a local to the Skeena Watershed.
Twenty cents from every download of Rachelle Van Zanten's new song "I fight for Life" will go directly towards youth in conservation.
SWCC: What is this song inspired by?
Rachelle: “This song was written for Enbridge and inspired by the incredible storm of unity we’ve seen here in BC to fight this pipeline. I think the title of the song speaks for itself, while our leaders fight for oil, I fight for life…and it looks like we’re winning!”
SWCC: What do you see as your role as an artists in this fight for the place you call home?
Rachelle: A wonderful mentor from Smithers once told me that I have the power in my music to invoke change. I just needed to tap into it and commit to it. So when writing my speech for the Joint Review Panel for the Northern Gateway Project, I really tried to dig deep and write from the guts. I meditated on why I felt so emotional and so distraught about the possibility of losing a river, a lake, an ocean, or all of them at once.
My daughter came to mind- her free and bold spirit is a direct result of growing in the womb to the sound of the waves crashing on the shoreline. She has eaten the salmon from five months of age. Our day revolves around outings through the forest, on the snow, down a river. She deserves to have that quality of life for the rest of her life and life of her offspring. So I took that speech and turned it into a song so that the entire world could hear my message.
SWCC: Why did you decide to donate a portion of the proceeds to our conservation camps?
Rachelle: When I look at organizations such as Cancer Research I find that very little of the funding goes towards the prevention. Most of it goes into finding the cure. With the current onslaught of industrial development coming at us from all sides I thought one effective way to create change is to inspire the youth to be the change. Many of the current CEO's, project managers, developers, have never caught a fish on a river, cooked it over an open fire, and then spent the night under the stars little alone had their lives depend upon the river's bounty for their survival. By allowing the kids a chance to fall in love with the incredible web of life that sustains us here in the Northwest as well as see the fragility of it all, they are more apt to grow up with it on their conscience. When the people lead, the leaders they will have to follow. My hope is that it is sooner than later!
SWCC: What advice you have for people who want to use their talents to stand up for what they believe in?
Rachelle: If you truly truly believe, it comes out in everything that you are. For some it is in visual art. Others it is in their leadership. For me, it fuels my fire to write songs.
SWCC: Why does this place need protecting?
Rachelle: After traveling the world with my music, i have been made of aware of the value of clean and accessible drinking water, fresh air, and untainted soil. I took if for granted while growing up and when I went away to other parts of the globe, I craved it dearly. I look at the United States and see people yearning for a river, lake, or land body that hasn't been affected by energy development. I see the same thing in Europe. Everyone looks to Canada.
Buy the tune by clicking below!
November 23 2012 » Media Releases » Press Release
Fortune Minerals back in the spotlight as protests target BC coal mine plan
(Hazelton, BC) Last week, junior mining company Fortune Minerals (TSX:FT) was the target of another public protest in response to its controversial plan to build an open-pit coal mine on Mt Klappan in the heart of an area of British Columbia known as the Sacred Headwaters.
Five protesters gained entry to the “Hard Assets” mining investors’ conference in San Francisco carrying a large banner that read, “A Risky Investment: Fortune Minerals. Don't fund social conflict on First Nations Land.”
“Our community will be severely impacted as this area is where our cultural activities take place. This project will destroy a way of life for our people if it goes ahead and we have said as a community that it’s never going to happen, we will do anything we have to in order to stop this development!” said Iskut Band Chief Marie Quock.
Quock says Fortune’s claims that it is working with the Tahltan First Nation, on whose traditional territory the coal mine is located, are false. In 2006, members of the Tahltan blockaded the main access road. Thirteen Tahltan elders were arrested, putting a stop to Fortune Mineral’s exploration program on Mt Klappan.
In September the Tahltan Central Council issued a press release stating, “We want to make it clear that the Klappan area is one of the most sacred and important areas for the Tahltan people. It is a place of tremendous cultural, spiritual, and social importance. It is not an area that the Tahltan people have expressed interest to see developed.”
Fortune's mine plan is controversial because Mount Klappan sits at the centre of the Sacred Headwaters, where three of North America’s most valuable wild salmon rivers – the Skeena, Stikine and Nass – all originate. Tahltan families have long relied on the area’s moose, caribou, and wild salmon for sustenance.
The Sacred Headwaters is also the site of another controversial proposal: a Royal Dutch Shell plan to drill for coalbed methane. In 2008, the B.C. government placed a moratorium on gas drilling after strong opposition from the Tahltan and downstream communities who are opposed to development in this sensitive area.
“We are confident that neither Shell’s project nor Fortune Minerals’ will go forward,” said Shannon McPhail, executive director of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. “We depend on the Sacred Headwaters to help sustain our $110 million wild salmon economy on the Skeena and we’re prepared to do what it takes to ensure this important place isn’t damaged.”
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Marie Quock – Chief, Iskut Band Council: (250)234-3331
Annita McPhee – President, Tahltan Central Council: (604) 754-9974
Shannon McPhail - Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition: (250)842-2494
November 14 2012 » Media Releases » Tahltan Central Council
Tahltan People Continue to Emphasize Importance of Protecting Sacred Headwaters
November 13 2012 » Home FeatureMultimedia
New song from Rachelle van Zanten: “I fight for life”
October 08 2012 » Home Feature
SWCC’s New Women On Water Program: A Small Change Project!
WOW is aimed at bringing women of all ages together out on their local rivers to learn white water skills, building self-esteem, learn about local environmental issues and inspire and encourage one another as community leaders. Learn more about this new project here.
What is Small Change Fund Project all about?
Did you know that less than 1% percent of Canadian giving goes to grassroots groups and only a fraction of that goes to support environmental and international causes? That's crazy! Small Change Fund Initiative is a creative new way of giving to help change these statistics.
It is a bottom-up way to get individuals giving to awesome stuff happening in their communities: like our WOW program!
Using the power of social media and the internet the Small Change Fund provides the opportunity for people to learn about grassroots environmental projects and play a part in helping groups like us make positive change!
Learn more about Small Change Fund here: www.smallchangefund.org
SWCC's Women On Water Program
The WOW program developed out of SWCC's popular Youth On Water (YOW) program. In 2011 SWCC ran Women on Water for the first time for young girls, in 2012 SWCC was able to extend this to women of all ages.
"We knew this program was going to be positive for the participants, but honestly we had no idea just how powerful this program would be for women of all ages," says Cynthia McCreery, YOW and WOW co-ordinator.
The experience of the participants in this program has been overwhelmingly positive. The women spoke of gaining confidence in ways they had never imagined as they learned water skills and built relationships on the river. Many women felt the experience was life changing!
How your small change can help!
Funding from The Small Change Fund will help us increase awareness of the program, allowing us to work closley with First Nations groups, run open houses and visit local women’s organizations and support groups. You'll help us provide trained professionals for healing and self-esteem building activities AND you'll be helping us expand our program so more women can get out on the water!
To Donate visit our project on Small Change Fund website HERE!
September 20 2012 »
Paul Colangelo interviewed about the Sacred Headwaters
International League of Conservation Photographer Paul Colangelo has photographed some of the most remote habitats in the world to document the current condition of delicate ecosystems at risk of destruction.
Colangelo speaks to James Milles of the Joy Trip Project, on the developments facing the North West BC, the Sacred Headwaters and how his photographs are bringing about social change and helping to preserve one of Canada's most spectacular regions.
Listen to the interview and check out the images HERE!
Learn more about the fight to Save the Sacred Headwaters HERE!
September 20 2012 » » The Cleanest Line - Patagonia
The Sacred Headwaters - By Paul Colangelo
In a remote mountainous region of northern British Columbia lies the Sacred Headwaters, the shared birthplace of three of British Columbia’s most important salmon rivers, the Stikine, Skeena and Nass. It supports one of the largest predator-prey ecosystems in North America, and it is the traditional territory of the Tahltan First Nation. Largely unprotected, numerous proposed mining developments now threaten the water, wildlife and culture of this land.
The largest proposed development is Shell’s coal bed methane (CBM) project. In its tenure of nearly a million acres in the heart of the Sacred Headwaters, Shell would extract methane gas using the water-intensive fracking process, which would risk contaminating and altering the water levels in the headwaters. A maze of roads and pipelines would connect the wellheads, fracturing the now pristine wildlife habitat.
Read more HERE!
[The Stikine River flows in the Grand Canyon of the Stikine, Stikine Plateau, British Columbia.] - Paul Colangelo
[A Wet’suwet’en man gaffs salmon in the Bulkley River, British Columbia.] - Paul Colangelo
September 20 2012 »
A Journey Through the Sacred Headwaters: A Documentary Project
Sacred Headwaters, Sacred Journey is a documentary project of the Sacred Headwaters. Photographer Paul Colangelo and writer Amanda Follett aim to raise awareness of this remote land and the issues surrounding it.
In northern British Columbia, three of the province's greatest salmon-bearing rivers are formed in the subalpine basin known as the Sacred Headwaters. The land has one of the largest intact predator-prey systems in North America, earning it the nickname, "Serengeti of the North," and is the traditional territory of the Tahltan First Nation.
The Headwaters is at the centre of a dispute between the Tahltan, resource industries, government and environmental groups. Competing interests concerning land use, mining and hunting have created divides and put the future health of the Sacred Headwaters at risk.
View the images above to learn more about the Sacred Headwaters and see this remote land for yourself. http://www.sacredheadwatersjourney.com/
September 20 2012 »
Wade Davis Speaks on the Sacred Headwaters
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis describes the Sacred Headwaters -- where three of British Columbia's greatest salmon-bearing rivers are formed. The area is under threat by mining developments. Featuring photos by Paul Colangelo and music by Todd Hannigan.
September 20 2012 » News Clippings
An Exploration of the Environmental Price of BC’s Mining Boom: Fascinating series on CTV this week!
Ed Watson takes you on a journey to the wildest places in BC - an exploration of the people, issues and environmental price of BC's mining boom.
Learn about the damanging developments, underway and planned in NorthWest BC, on this fascinating CTV series airing all this week.
Check it out HERE!
July 19 2012 »
Keep the Sacred Headwaters Sacred!
Ask Premier Christy Clark to protect the Sacred Headwaters.
Only a few months remain on a moratorium that currently prevents Shell from transforming a wilderness in northwestern British Columbia into barren land of gas wells and roads. The Sacred Headwaters is the source of three of North America's most productive salmon-bearing rivers, and critical habitat for moose, bears, and caribou. The landscape supports thriving salmon and wildlife populations, and local cultures and economies. Broad community opposition convinced BC's government to place a moratorium on Shell's plans. But the moratorium expires on December 5, 2012, a few months from now.
By signing your name to this letter, you are joining others in telling BC's government to protect the Sacred Headwaters for good. The letter and collective signatures will be delivered to Premier Clark and the Honourable Rich Coleman.
Sign the petition HERE!
July 19 2012 » SWCC in the News » Forest Ethics
Spin on government’s job ads highlights risks to salmon jobs
VANCOUVER - ForestEthics Advocacy launched an ad campaign today bringing attention to jobs that will be threatened by fracking for coalbed methane in northwest British Columbia.
The group’s ad suggests that the jobs currently supported by thriving salmon populations will be lost if Shell’s plans to drill for gas in the region known as the Sacred Headwaters are permitted to go ahead.
“Is Premier Clark willing to ignore the sustainable local jobs that salmon have provided in the region for generations in favour of fracking for gas in the vast wilderness of the Sacred Headwaters?” asks Karen Tam Wu, ForestEthics Advocacy senior conservation campaigner. “Or will she ban coalbed methane permanently in the Sacred Headwaters, clearly demonstrating the importance of salmon to regional economies and cultures?" Read more...
June 22 2012 » Home Feature
Youth On Water 2012
The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, Tides Canada Initiatives and the GItanmaax Band Council are proud to announce the launch of YOW 2012!
Youth on Water (YOW!) is Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition’s flagship program. More than just an outdoor recreation program, YOW is focused on empowering regional youth through water level activities.
YOW helps participants develop tangible, transferrable job skills while connecting them to their local landscapes. It cultivates both a sense of adventure and environmental responsibility in our youth.
YOW! began in 2009 as an SWCC pilot project to provide a white water guide training program for Hazelton area youth. YOW quickly became a highly visible program and its positive impacts at the individual and peer group levels were widely recognized, last year YOW had 89 participants!
YOW! 2012 will run throughout the summer months in Terrace, Smithers, Moricetown, Gitsegukla and Hazelton, so if you're out and about on the water this summer, be on the look out for our youth and give us a wave!
For more information about YOW conact: Cynthia McCreery: Cynthia@skeenawatershed.com or call: 250-842-2494
June 19 2012 » News Clippings » Telluride Daily Planet
Skiing the Headwaters
This past winter a local group sponsored by a National Geographic Young Explorers grant ventured into the wilderness of British Columbia seeking some of its natural wonders.
The group of five skiers headed to the Sacred Headwaters, where the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers begin. Located on the western side of British Columbia, the Sacred Headwaters is a place most people only visit in summer months.
In March the group made excursions into the area, the longest being a 20-day 65-mile one-way push. Along for the journey were Nick Chambers, John Gioia, Julia Nave, Trevor Cobb and Ken Voeller.
The idea to ski the area came from a summer visit.
“After spending some time up there in the summer just north of the Scared Headwaters, we learned about what was going on up there and the potential resource development,” Nick Chambers from Durango said. “Some of the local indigenous communities were kind of divided on whether or not some of these projects should happen. But while we were up there backpacking around we thought to ourselves it would be a good place to go backcountry skiing.” Read more...
June 05 2012 » » Forest Ethics Advocacy
Get the Shell out - BC residents not about to welcome new proposal
Peter Voser, Royal Dutch Shell CEO of the world’s second most profitable corporation, is eager to “pilot” fast-tracked rules for development approval to build Canada’s largest liquefied natural gas plant off the Pacific north coast to capture a narrow window of opportunity. Shell is looking to take advantage of Canada’s revamped environmental and fisheries laws. Yet Shell isn’t new to controversy around gas projects in northwest British Columbia.
Shell has forgotten that staff were met with blockades and protests when the company tried to conduct exploratory drilling for coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters in 2005. This led to a moratorium on Shell to stop drilling for gas at the headwaters of three major salmon rivers (Skeena, Stikine and Nass), and residents want to get them out permanently. Read more...
May 28 2012 » News Clippings » Straight.com
Let’s Leave the Dirty Business of Coal Exports Behind Us
As public opposition to tanker traffic on the B.C. coast continues to grow louder, another fossil-fuel industry is quietly moving ahead with its own expansion plans.
Between B.C., Washington, and Oregon, there are proposals for eight brand spanking new coal-export ports, and additional plans to double output at three existing facilities.
These proposals represent a massive increase in our carbon footprint. Once burned, the coal from our fair province’s ports would add over 200 millions tonnes of carbon pollution to the atmosphere every year. Whether used to generate power or as a part of the steelmaking process, the burning of coal for energy is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. B.C.’s growing contribution to this industry represents a dire threat to our collective future.
On Vancouver Island, there are plans for three new coal mines in the Comox Valley and a coal port in Port Alberni. Local opposition has highlighted the impact this proposal would have on drinking water and the Fanny Bay Oyster industry . In the Peace River region of northeastern B.C., critical habitat for the threatened caribou herds that were once plentiful in the region are threatened by new coal mines. The thriving and mighty salmon rivers of the Sacred Headwaters are also at risk from a giant open pit mine proposal. And additional proposals in the Kooteneys will intensify the existing mining activity in the Elk Valley, pushing into intact wilderness. Read more...
May 23 2012 » SWCC in the NewsHome Feature
Activists Protest Shell’s Resistance to Withdraw from BC’s Sacred Headwaters
Moratorium on gas drilling in Sacred Headwaters to expire in seven months, Shell’s plans ship gas to Asian markets raises concern
Tuesday May 22, 2012
PRESS RELEASE CONTACT: Karen Tam Wu, ForestEthics Advocacy, 778-846-5647
THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS – At Shell’s annual shareholder meeting today, the company made clear that it has no plans to withdraw its operations to drill for gas in BC’s Sacred Headwaters. With the company’s announcement of a liquefied natural gas plant on BC’s north coast, gas from the Sacred Headwaters could be headed for Asia. Potesters rallied to expose the environmental threats of extracting gas from the Sacred Headwaters, one of the most pristine and stunning regions of British Columbia.
Shell’s original plans to develop coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters were put on hold by the BC government imposing a four-year moratorium on development in the Sacred Headwaters. The moratorium is set to expire at the end of 2012.
Last week, Shell announced its partnership with Asian companies to build Canada’s largest liquefied natural gas plant off BC’s north pacific coast to supply Asia with gas from Shell’s operations in B.C. Large tankers carrying the compressed gas will travel through the Great Bear Rainforest to Asia, travelling the same treacherous route tankers carrying crude and condensate from Enbridge’s proposed pipeline.
“There is nothing natural about natural gas from the Sacred Headwaters,” says Karen Tam Wu of ForestEthics Advocacy. “Shell’s bad gas puts our greatest salmon rivers at risk. The company’s plans to ship the gas through the Great Bear Rainforest to Asia means that BC will bear all the risks and costs with no benefit.”
Governments from the village of Hazelton to First Nations Band Councils to the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine - have passed resolutions opposing the development of coalbed methane. The Union of BC Municipalities and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs passed similar resolutions.
“While Shell is shaking hands with Big Oil from Asia and celebrating the announcement of their plans, residents in BC are still shaking their heads and fists over Shell’s plans to frack for gas in salmon habitat,” said Shannon McPhail of Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. “The controversy over the Sacred Headwaters has left Shell with a tarnished reputation in the northwest.” Read more...
May 15 2012 » News Clippings » Times Colonist
Red Chris Mine Not Worth The Risk
Re: "First Nations gird for battle against B.C. mine," May 6.
Pity us poor British Columbians. Along with the Enbridge Gateway and the Kinder Morgan twinning project, salmon farms and the Site C dam, we now have the mine that never should have been considered - the Red Chris Mine. Five tigers by the tail.
The authorized mine site is close to the heart of the sacred headwaters of the Nass, Stikine and Skeena rivers, near the edge of Todagin Provincial Park above the Klappan River, which flows into the Nass River. Read more:
May 15 2012 » News Clippings » Question
Wade Davis Addresses Sold-out Crowd in Whistler
The Brew Creek Centre south of Whistler was an apt location for Wade Davis’s sold-out talk on the Sacred Headwaters on Wednesday (May 9). With fresh spring flowers growing on scenic pathways and water flowing through the old-growth forest, the local landscape is not unlike the one Davis hopes to protect — a place full of meaning because of the people and the culture that fill it. Davis, a Canadian anthropologist and ethnobotanist who holds the role of “Explorer-in-Residence” at the National Geographic Society, has travelled to exotic, far-off places like Borneo, Haiti and Nepal. But more than 130 people have come to hear him talk about his own home and their backyard — British Columbia. Read more...
May 08 2012 » News Clippings » Centre for a Better Life
British Columbia’s Threatened Sacred Headwaters
It is not often a photographer has the opportunity to explore lands which have rarely, if ever, been captured by the lens of a camera. Collaborating with National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and author Wade Davis, and the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), photographer Carr Clifton was fortunate enough to have had this experience in the Sacred Headwaters of British Columbia.
Throughout nine weeks trekking hundreds of miles of backcountry trails and roads, and 250 hours of helicopter flights, Clifton captured some of the most beautiful and endangered lands in North America. From aerials of the region’s rivers and valleys to remote lakes, mountains and glaciers, Clifton’s portfolio of the incredible region conveys the importance of protecting this extraordinary ecosystem. Read more...
April 29 2012 » News Clippings
MEC Vancouver hosts “Sacred Headwaters, Sacred Journey”, a photography exhibit by Paul Colangelo
Mountain Equipment Co-op's Vancouver store is displaying images from "Sacred Headwaters, Sacred Journey", a photography exhibit by Paul Colangelo, showcasing the threatened Sacred Headwaters region of northern British Columbia. April 28th - May 27th, 130 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC
Sacred Headwaters, Sacred Journey
In a remote mountainous region of northern British Columbia lies the Sacred Headwaters, the shared birthplace of three of British Columbia’s most important salmon rivers, the Stikine, Skeena and Nass. Known as the Serengeti of the North, it supports one of the largest predator-prey ecosystems in North America, and it is the traditional territory of the Tahltan First Nation. Largely unprotected, numerous mining projects are proposed for this region, threatening everything that makes it sacred. Incredibly, a small group of Tahltan elders succeeded in halting the world’s second largest corporation. But the fate of their homeland hangs in the balance as the moratorium on the largest mine expires in December 2012 and a new wave of development approaches. Learn more and help at www.sacredheadwatersjourney.com
About Paul Colangelo
Paul Colangelo is a National Geographic Explorer and a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers. For three years Paul has explored northern British Columbia, telling its stories of culture, wildlife and a changing landscape. www.paucolangelo.com
April 26 2012 » Media Releases » BC Parks
The Get Outside BC project is happening this summer for BC youth aged 14 to 18!
This all-expenses-paid opportunity has 3 phases:
1. July 3 - 7, 2012 - Attend the Get Outside BC Youth Leadership Summit in Squamish with 40 other youth from across the province. Build leadership skills, go hiking, network, meet inspiring mentors, learn about cool green jobs, become a natural leader, and create an action plan to deliver your own outdoor event to connect other youth to nature and parks.
2. August 2012 - In honour of International Youth Day (August 12), plan and host your own outdoor activity event for other youth in a park near your community.
3. October 2012 - Reunite with the Leadership Summit participants from your region to talk about your events, share your successes and make plans for future events. Please find the poster attached - applications are due May 7th! Brought to you by BC Parks, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC).
April 25 2012 » Home Feature
Purchase the Awakening the Skeena DVD and support Sue Allen Jensen!
For the month of May, Andrew Eddy, long time SWCC supporter and talented film director of Awakening the Skeena, will be generously donating all proceeds from Awakening the Skeena DVD sales directly to a member of the SWCC family: Sue Allen Jensen.
Sue recently suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke and was given a 4-6% chance of survival. Sue is one tough cookie and is inspiring us daily with her strength. Not only is Sue the much loved sister of SWCC’s Executive Director Shannon McPhail but she has been along for the ride with SWCC since day one.
Sue’s journey to recovery will be tough but she is one of the bravest women we know. She will need to remain in the hospital until the end of this year and then we hope she will be able to come home to continue her recovery.
Support Sue’s journey to recovery by purchasing the DVD of Ali’s epic journey down the Skeena and our fight to save this place!
April 24 2012 » News Clippings
Vacation? That’s so 2011! Why would you want to have a vacation when you can have an EXPEDITION?
Expeditions are the foundation of our past and a key part of our vision for the future!
It’s all about getting out on the land and so we’ve put together a list of guides and outfitters ready to take you on an EXPEDITION OF A LIFETIME!
From fishing to hunting to white water rafting, whether you want to rough it for ten days in a tent or enjoy luxury comforts while in the wilderness, we've got you covered!
Hunting, fishing and wilderness guide outfitters with camps, lodges and horse trips in and around the Sacred Headwaters:
FISHING - Explore the wilderness beauty of Tatlatui Provincial Park. Situated in the heart of the Alpine of North Central BC, Tatlatui offers excellent fishing & can be reached only by chartered aircraft.
HUNTING and FISHING - This is a small personalized guide/outfitting business that borders Spatsizi Wilderness Park and lies within the southern portion of the Sacred Headwaters.
FISHING, WILDERNESS & HORSE - Spatsizi Wilderness park covers 3,600 square miles and is inaccessible by road. The park contains part of the west and north side of the Sacred Headwaters. This is a land of crystal clear lakes and streams where the trout are plentiful and wildlife abound. The Collingwood family operate Spatsizi Lodge, and the packages compare favorably to the finest fly-out lodges in the Americas.
HUNTING, FISHING, HORSE & WILDERNESS - the ultimate fly-in hunting adventure in Northern British Columbia! Fully guided hunts. Exclusive single species and combination hunts and guiding trips from 8 to 14 days. Ray Collingwood is one of the only North American to receive the distinguished "Professional Hunter of the Year" award.
HUNTING and HORSE TRIPS - Join us for wilderness hunts or see the amazing country from the back of a horse. With 4,500 square miles of wilderness, accessible by float plane or horse, in the remote Northern Cassiar Mountains. The area varies from lowlands to high alpine country, mingled with mountains and lakes.
FISHING - Located in Northern British Columbia, Canada, the Damdochax River is home to one of the last, truly unspoiled fisheries in the world. For over 30 years we have provided remarkable angling for 100% wild and healthy runs of Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, Coho, Chinook, Bull Trout, and Dolly Varden. The Damdochax Lodge offers exceptional, classic fly angling opportunities and have 4 lodges we operate from.
HUNTING, FISHING & HIKING - Located in the southern portion of the Sacred Headwaters and beyond to the rugged Skeena mountain range, this area has some of the most remote and scenic wilderness country in the world! It covers 3,000 square miles and offers quality accommodation on the banks of a pristine lake with fly-in access only.
HUNTING & WILDERNESS These guys have been operating on the headwaters of the Finlay River for over 40 years in 2500 sq. miles of pristine wilderness.
HUNTING - The oldest outfitting family in the north, the Creyke's have been guide outfitting for more than 60 years. Hunting or wilderness trips, these Tahltan guides are some of the best.
WILDERNESS, HORSE, RIVER EXPEDITIONS, CONSERVATION CAMPS FOR KIDS, RETREATS, FISHING, HELI-SKIING - largest heli-ski tenure in North America, incredibly exclusive with only 8 guest rooms, trail rides or mountain pack trips by horseback, upper Skeena river expeditions, steelhead and salmon fishing, retreats and more at one of BC's most luxurious wilderness lodges! Surprisingly affordable.
April 19 2012 » News Clippings
2012 Stewardship Community Bursary
Pacific Salmon Foundation 2012 Stewardship Community Bursary
The Pacific Salmon Foundation and Salmon Enhancement Program volunteers raise funds each year to support two annual awards for students in need who volunteer in activities that benefit salmon in the wild.
In 2012, the financial contribution from the stewardship community has remained strong resulting in a minimum of two bursaries of $2,000.
Bursary applicants must be full-time students enrolled in at least their second year of a program leading to careers that support Pacific salmon. The 2012 application window is from September 1 to October 30.
For additional information please contact Dianne Ramage, Salmon Programs Director, or Jim Shinkewski, Salmon Programs Coordinator at 604 664-7664.
An electronic version of the application form is available on the website at http://www.psf.ca/bursary
April 11 2012 » SWCC in the NewsNews Clippings » Nelson Star
Nelson Area Teachers Tackle Environment
Learn how to make an environmental difference by attending the BC Teachers’ Federation Environmental Justice Conference: Local to Global on April 27 to 29 at L.V. Rogers high school.
Key note speakers include: Ali Howard, who swam 610 km from the Skeena River Sacred Headwaters to the Pacific Ocean in 28 days, and Chris Turner, the author of the acclaimed book Hope of Geography. Read more...
April 11 2012 » News Clippings » KTOO News
Skiing the Sacred Head Waters
A young Juneau woman and four other Americans are on their way home from a six-week tour of British Columbia’s remote Sacred Head Waters to raise awareness of potential development.
Twenty-four-year old Julia Nave is among four 2010 Colorado College graduates, who – armed with cameras, notebooks and a Young Explorers grant from National Geographic – have been exploring the wild headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine international rivers, considered endangered by some scientists, conservationists, and local communities. Read more...
March 27 2012 » News Clippings
Nathan Cullen gives his last speech of NDP leadership campaign at convention
Skeena-Bulkey Valley MP Nathan Cullen took the stage this morning at the NDP's national leadership convention being held in Toronto to give his last speech before the party decides who will be the first ever NDP Leader of the Opposition.
Political commentators from all over the Canadian media scene are still saying that Montreal MP Thomas Mulcair will most likely be the winner, but in the same breath they say if the party leadership isn't decided on the first round of voting, Cullen could win as a consensus candidate or end up being the king-maker if he drops out and endorses another candidate.
Cullen has based his whole leadership campaign on his idea of electoral cooperation with the Liberal Party to avoid vote-splitting of progressive voters. He started his speech off with a call to action for those voters. Read more...
March 27 2012 » News Clippings » Times Colonist
Coyne: Mulcair’s sprint, Nash’s dead air, Singh’s cartoon — the speeches, reviewed Read more: http:
TORONTO — Whether a convention speech ever changed a single vote, who can say. But there's no reason they shouldn't. A party leader's main job, arguably, is to communicate, and if the set-piece speech is no longer of quite the importance it was — sadly — it is still a good test of a leader's ability to come across under pressure.
Here, then, are capsule reviews of the contestants in Friday's NDP leadership showcase:
Nathan Cullen spoke first, exhibiting his peculiar brand of laid-back intensity, part surfer dude, part Baptist preacher. Alone upon the stage, he spoke without introduction, without notes, and without, it seemed, much to say. He had defended, he reminded delegates, both "my friend Thomas Mulcair" and "my friend Brian Topp" from attacks. On the other hand, I gather he is no friend of the oil industry. Had he not run for leader, he told the convention, he would have been back in northern British Columbia, "defending my home" from the Gateway pipeline. As well as pipelines, he was unalterably opposed to "a petro-dollar and a petro-state." He told with pride of how Shell Canada had been kept from fracking for methane in an area known as the Sacred Headwaters. But even bashing Big Oil could not rouse the crowd to much enthusiasm. Read more...
March 27 2012 » News Clippings » CTV
With final speeches done, NDP begins to choose leader
TORONTO — With chanting and plenty of orange fashion statements, thousands of NDP delegates descended upon the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Friday to pick the party's new leader -- and the nation's next Opposition leader.
At stake is the party's political future following the historic election last May, which saw the NDP sweep through Quebec and assume Official Opposition status for the first time.
Some candidates are pledging to move the party toward the centre and co-operate with other parties, while others are promising to remain committed to the NDP's founding principles of social justice and equality.
But before the crucial first ballots could be counted on Friday evening, the seven candidates were given 20 minutes each to make their final pitches to the party faithful.
Among that first faction pushing the party's base are Thomas Mulcair and Nathan Cullen, who want to become the next government by expanding the popular vote. Read more...
March 23 2012 » News Clippings » Examiner.com
The Sacred Headwaters
In a classic story of conservation writer and anthropologist Wade Davis will make you profoundly care about a place you will likely never visit. ‘The Sacred Headwaters The Fight to save the Stinkine, Skeena and Nass’ details the modern struggle to preserve the last remaining rainforest in North America. Beautifully illustrated with breathtaking images from the International League of Conservation Photographers Davis’ book makes a compelling case for the protection of wilderness over the short term and often harmful benefits of natural resource extraction. Read more...
March 23 2012 » News Clippings » The Tri-City News
A Good Read: Photos tell stories in these books
Working in a library and being surrounded by printed materials, I am often drawn to the covers of books to help decide which book I will pick up and begin a new adventure with. Being a photographer at heart, I am quick to reach for books that use photography to tell stories. These books are found in the photography section of the library, which highlights the work of published photographers, or are kept in the subject area that the photography is portraying, including marine life and regional areas of British Columbia.
• Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest by David Hall is a visual delight and my current favourite book on photography. Hall is an award-winning underwater photographer, with work published in National Geographic, Smithsonian and Natural History magazines as well as 10 children’s books in the Undersea Encounters series. In Beneath Cold Seas, Hall reveals a vibrant and multi-coloured world of marine life off our Pacific Coast, which is also home to the most diverse marine life of any cold-water ecosystem on the planet. Unless you are a scuba diver and have seen these underwater treasures, this book is a must for exposing the mysterious and beautiful fragile life in our local waters.
• In The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena and Nass, author Wade Davis uses photography by the International League of Conservation Photographers to showcase the remote and spectacular valley in northern British Columbia known to First Nations as the Sacred Headwaters. Davis is an anthropologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence and, for the past 30 years, has lived seasonally at his family’s fishing lodge in the upper Stikine, where he worked as a park ranger in his youth. In this book, Davis weaves eloquent text with full-page photographs of untouched natural wilderness, revealing his reverence for this region and his goal to take the viewer “to realms of cultural [and natural] splendour so great that we will understand, finally, their value to the world.” Read more...
March 19 2012 » » The Vancouver Sun
Best on the Shelf
(1) 14 wks Death Comes to Pemberley
1 P.D. James
The grand dame of the British murder mystery takes on the characters of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
(2) 9 wks Believing The Lie
2 Elizabeth George
Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley is back on the case.
(3) 35 wks A Dance with Dragons
3 George R.R. Martin
The fifth instalment of fantasy epic, A Song of Ice and Fire.
(4) 2 wks Lone Wolf
4 Jodi Picoult
A moral dilemma presented by Jodi Picoult about a man in a coma.
(5) 28 wks The Cat's Table
5 Michael Ondaatje
The story of a boy crossing from Ceylon to England.
(8) 3 wks The House I Loved
6 Tatiana De Rosnay
This new novel by the author of Sarah's Key also takes place in Paris. This time its about Baron Haussmann's redesign of the city.
(9) 26 wks The Night Circus
7 Erin Morgenstern
Debut novel takes a behind the-scenes, magical look at a circus of the night.
(6) 27 wks Sense of an Ending
8 Julian Barnes
The Man Booker Prize-winning novel about memory and recollection.
(10) 3 wks I've Got Your Number
9 Sophie Kinsella
Billed as hilarious and unpredictable, this novel is about a woman about to be married who loses her engagement ring and her phone.
(7) 20 wks The Virgin Cure
10 Ami MacKay
The story of a young girl in Victorian New York that includes her experience as an "almost" prostitute.
(1) 15 wks Eating Dirt
1 Charlotte Gill
Gill won the BC National Prize for Non-Fiction for her memoir of a 20-year tree planting career.
(2) 40 wks Go the F---to Sleep
2 Adam Mansbach & Ricardo Cortes
A naughty bedtime book for parents.
(3) 20 wks Steve Jobs
Large number indicates rating in the past week, number in parentheses indicates rating the previous week, third number indicates number of weeks on bestseller list. © TBM BookManager Ltd., http://www.bookmanager.com Lists. are compiled weekly from actual sales at more than 280 Canadian independent booksellers.
March 19 2012 » News Clippings » Canada.com
Sacred headwaters in B.C. under threat, says author
B .C.'s own National Geographic Society explorerin-residence, Wade Davis, wants to save an area of B.C. known by first nations people as the sacred headwaters, the area where the Stikine, Skeena and Nass rivers originate. Davis's book, The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass, is a bid to do just that. Born in Vancouver, Davis was raised in Montreal and on Vancouver Island, educated at Harvard, and ultimately came back to B.C. where he worked as a park ranger in the Stikine Valley. Davis knows the area well. He has lived and worked in the region as a park ranger, guide and anthropologist at least parttime since 1978. He and his wife, Gail, own Wolf Creek Lodge, the closest private holding to the sacred headwaters. He raised his two children, daughters aged 23 and 20, in Washington, D.C. during the winters and at the lodge in the B.C. wilderness during the summers. Read more...
March 17 2012 » News Clippings » The Joy Trip Project
The Sacred Headwaters
In a classic story of conservation writer and anthropologist Wade Davis will make you profoundly care about a place you will likely never visit. ‘The Sacred Headwaters The Fight to save the Stinkine, Skeena and Nass’ details the modern struggle to preserve the last remaining rainforest in North America. Beautifully illustrated with breathtaking images from the International League of Conservation Photographers Davis’ book makes a compelling case for the protection of wilderness over the short term and often harmful benefits of natural resource extraction. Read more...
March 17 2012 » News Clippings
Anthropologist Wade Davis says Canada at crossroads
As a boy, Wade Davis can recall visits to Salt Spring Island where he would strap a pair of roughly hewn logs to his feet and apprehensively hang onto the lead as an eccentric quasi-relative would tow him across Ganges Harbour.
The sputtering fishing vessel never topped five knots, but its captain insisted the exercise was all part of a training regimen that would prepare the young Davis for a career as an astronaut.
Davis never made it into outer space, but he has been just about everywhere else in a career that’s encouraged many to describe the Vancouver native as a real-life Indiana Jones. Read more...
March 17 2012 » News Clippings » The Vancouver Sun
Wade Davis Challenges ‘Tsunami of development’ in remote BC
B.C.’s own National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, Wade Davis, wants to save an area of B.C. known by first nations people as the sacred headwaters, the area where the Stikine, Skeena and Nass rivers originate. Davis’s book, The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass, is a bid to do just that.
Born in Vancouver, Davis was raised in Montreal and on Vancouver Island, educated at Harvard, and ultimately came back to B.C. where he worked as a park ranger in the Stikine Valley. Davis knows the area well.
He has lived and worked in the region as a park ranger, guide and anthropologist at least part-time since 1978. He and his wife, Gail, own Wolf Creek Lodge, the closest private holding to the sacred headwaters. He raised his two children, daughters aged 23 and 20, in Washington, D.C. during the winters and at the lodge in the B.C. wilderness during the summers. Read more...
March 13 2012 » News Clippings » Times Colonist
Explorer defends sacred places
Mines and money-making have their place, world traveller says, but First Nations and nature have rights, too
Wade Davis has a hunger to know the world.
The explorer-in-residence for National Geographic not only defies borders, but definition. He could be called an anthropologist or a botanist. Or adventurer. Or an author, photographer, filmmaker.
Perhaps storyteller is best.
"I think I just couldn't imagine a single career," he said in Victoria this week. "I just had a great curiosity about the world and a desire to explore it. We only have one lifetime, you know. It's been in my blood since I was a kid."
Born in West Vancouver, Davis was raised in Montreal before finishing his last two years of high school on Vancouver Island at Brentwood College School. From there he went to Harvard University, but would return to B.C. each summer to work as a logger and park ranger.
"I was interested in anthropology," he says of how he began exploring. "I went off to South America, became interested in botany, started collecting plants. Plants led to more remote places and I was fascinated by the wonder of culture, so I kept going." Read more...
March 13 2012 » News Clippings » Vancouver Sun
Power project plan puts Kokish on endangered list
Renowned fishing spot ties for first place in annual B.C survey
The run-of-river power industry emerged as a leading environmental threat today in the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C.'s annual top-10 list of endangered rivers.
The Kokish River on northeastern Vancouver Island - renowned for its salmon and steelhead - tied for first place on the list due to a proposed independent power project in which an aboriginal group is a partner.
Ranking of the Kokish, located about 15 kilometres east of Port McNeill, follows a story Saturday in The Vancouver Sun based on freedom-of-information documents showing how two run-of-river power projects - on lower Mamquam River and Ashlu Creek, both near Squamish - repeatedly stranded and killed fish.
"The Kokish has everything," the council's rivers chairman Mark Angelo, confirmed in an interview. "It's become a rallying cry, a poster child in terms of concern for projects like this." Read more...
March 13 2012 » News Clippings » Globe and Mail
130 years after John Muir’s visit, author seeks to save B.C.’s Sacred Headwaters
Wade Davis, explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, photographer, filmmaker, and one of Canada’s most brilliant writers, should not have time for this in his busy life.
But here he is in Vancouver – between speaking engagements and in the midst of a tour to promote two recently published books – working on a campaign to stop two major resource developments proposed in northern British Columbia.
“I spend about 20 per cent of my time every day on this,” he said of his fight to save a region that the Tahltan people call the Sacred Headwaters.
“I don’t know how that happened … it’s just become that important to me,” said Mr. Davis, who is currently working on two new books and who recently completed a four-hour National Geographic documentary series shot in Australia, Mongolia and Colombia. Read more...
March 13 2012 » SWCC in the NewsHome FeatureMedia Releases » ORC
Sacred Headwaters and Kokish River jointly top BC’s Most Endangered Rivers List for 2012
Sacred Headwaters tops BC’s Most Endangered Rivers List along with Kokish River: Kitimat, Peace and Kettle Rivers close behind
(Image: Paul Colangelo)
A remote wilderness landscape widely known as “the Sacred Headwaters”, as well as the Kokish River on Vancouver Island have jointly topped British Columbia’s most endangered rivers list for 2012. The accompanying report also outlines several key river issues that must be addressed.
The Sacred Headwaters is an historic reference used by the Iskut First Nation to describe the area that nurtures the source not only of the Skeena, but also the Nass and Stikine, all great salmon-bearing rivers. Located on the southern edge of BC’s Spatsizi wilderness, the sacred headwaters is home to an abundance of wildlife, including caribou, stone sheep, grizzly bears and wolves; to many, this area is the “Serengeti of Canada” said Mark Angelo, River’s Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council.
Yet, the sacred headwaters is also the site of several major industrial developments, the most note-worthy being Shell Canada’s proposal to extract coal bed methane gas, a highly invasive process that would compromise the biological richness of the great rivers that flow from this area. If approved, a maze of wellheads, roads and pipelines would spread across the proponent’s 400,000 hectare tenure. Given the intensity of such development, concerns include the likelihood of altered drainage patterns and increased siltation. Vast amounts of wastewater, high in salts and heavy metals, may also be generated in the extraction process. Current plans call for re-injecting this polluted water back into the ground but this is an untested method that could contaminate groundwater aquifers linked to surface flows.
While there is a temporary moratorium on coalbed methane development in the sacred headwaters, it is set to expire in December, 2012, at which point development could proceed. “There is widespread support for making this moratorium permanent, which would do much to protect the legacy of the great wild rivers that flow from this area”, said Angelo, who is both an Order of Canada and Order of BC recipient. “The multiple threats confronting this area highlight the need to be more proactive in protecting our great northern salmon rivers”, he added.
In a tie for the top spot is the Kokish River located on northeastern Vancouver Island about 50 km southeast of Port Hardy. “While just a fraction of the size and scale of the much larger sacred headwaters area, the Kokish illustrates the fact that many small, remote and highly productive streams also face serious risks”, said Angelo.
In the case of the Kokish, it faces the prospect of a controversial 45 MW independent power project that, in the view of many, would seriously threaten the survival of its salmon runs. “There is particular concern about a rare population of summer-run steelhead, a species that is becoming increasingly rare on Vancouver Island streams”, added Angelo. DFO staff have publicly expressed their concern about the project and the uncertainty to which its impacts can be mitigated. As a result, they have not yet signed off on this project in spite of the Province already approving it.
While smaller scale power projects can potentially be less harmful than larger ones, they can still do significant damage if located in the wrong place. The Kokish is not an appropriate locale for such a power project in light of its exceptional fisheries values.
In the next position is the Kitimat River, threatened by industrial development and the proposed northern gateway pipeline. The fact this river is so prominent on this year’s list reflects the widespread concern about the pipeline project that is being expressed by so many locals, first nations and conservation groups. In the 3rd spot is the Peace River, threatened by the Site C dam, while the Kettle River in the Okanagan appears as number 4. “Current issues along the Kettle River highlight the need to update the Water Act so that fisheries and aquatic ecosystems are adequately considered when making water allocation decisions”, noted Angelo.
“As one scans this year’s list, the issues and problems outlined are extensive and diverse, ranging from the importance of pro-actively protecting productive salmon rivers to ensuring that adequate water management regulations are in place”, explains Angelo. “The list also helps to create a greater awareness of the various threats that confront our waterways”, he added. “These issues highlight the fact that you cannot separate the health of our fish stocks from the health of our rivers; they are completely inter-dependent”.
Each year, the Outdoor Recreation Council solicits and reviews nominations for BC’s Most Endangered Rivers from its member groups, which total close to 100,000 members, as well as from the general public and resource managers from across BC.
For more details, see the endangered rivers backgrounder at http://www.orcbc.ca/pro_endangered.htm
BC’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2012;
1. (tied). Sacred Headwaters of Skeena, Nass and Stikine (coalbed methane, new mines)
1. (tied) Kokish River (IPP proposal)
2. Kitimat (industrial development, pipeline proposal)
3. Peace River (hydro-electric dam proposal)
4. Kettle River (water extraction, development)
5. Fraser River, “Heart of the Fraser”(urbanization, industrial development, habitat loss)
6. Taku River (mining development, road proposal, leachate concerns)
7. Elk River (development, increasing selenium levels, wildlife migration issues)
8. Big Silver Creek (IPP proposal)
9. Coquitlam River (excessive sedimentation, urbanization – some progress evident
Media only: backgrounder with complete details on each river is found here
For more information, please contact: Jeremy McCall, Exec. Dir., ORC, 604-873-5546
March 06 2012 » » CVV Magazine.com
Wade Davis on the Sacred Headwaters
CVV’s John Threlfall says:
Some might know him best as the author of Haitian zombie study The Serpent and the Rainbow, but there’s far more to the Vancouver-born Wade Davis than just a Hollywoodized horror rip-off of his work. A world-renowned anthropologist, ethnobotanist and Explorer-in-Residence with the National Geographic Society, Davis is also an accomplished photographer and compelling speaker. This week he’ll be joining the Sierra Club at the Royal BC Museum in his role as a World Wildlife Photographer, discussing the Sacred Headwaters in northern British Columbia—the spot where three of Canada’s most important Salmon rivers (the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass) are born in remarkably close proximity—but an area now threatened by industrial development. Described as “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity,” an evening with Davis is never to be missed. This is also the launch of Davis’ new book, The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass (Greystone). 7:00pm March 7, Royal BC Museum $15 per person
Read at CVV Magazine.com
January 31 2012 »
SWCC is seeking an Events and Volunteer Coordinator
Events and Volunteer Coordinator Position – 2012
The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC) is seeking an outgoing go-getter, who can ensure our fundraising and educational outreach events run smoothly, and our amazing volunteers are well organized and supported. You must be super organized, self motivated and able to think on your feet.
In this role you will report to the Executive Director and work closely with the local community, volunteers and SWCC’s Communications Director.
Purpose of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition:
To cultivate a sustainable future from a sustainable environment rooted in culture and a thriving wild salmon ecosystem.
The Event and Volunteer Coordinator (EVC) is responsible for the successful organization and implementation of SWCC outreach and education events as well as the overall supervision of the volunteer workers who assist with our projects, programs and events. The EVC will report directly to the SWCC Executive Director.
Duties include but are not limited to:
Event organization duties:
• Creating and adhering to event work plans for each event
• Following SWCC’s community organizing principles
• Organising logistics of events e.g. securing venues, projectors, sound systems etc.
• Helping to promote each event to ensure maximum attendance
• Collaborating with SWCC Director of Communications on media relations and publicity
• Keeping track of hours & expenses on a monthly basis
• Adhering to the pre-approved budget for each event
• Writing reports/evaluations on events
• Maintaining a consistent supply of merchandise for events
• Attending regular action meetings
• Providing regular progress updates to Executive Director
• Supervision and organizing of volunteers
• Recruitment of new volunteers
• Scheduling and conducting orientation of new volunteers
• Scheduling volunteer work times and following up on no-shows
• Communicating with volunteers and resolving any problems
• Motivating volunteers to stay involved
• Organizing and scheduling continuing educations for the volunteers
• Organize volunteer functions, such as summer BBQs
• Providing regular progress updates to Executive Director
• Attending regular action meetings
Mandatory Qualifications & Experience
• Good communication and people skills
• Motivated, self-starter able to work without supervision
• Good organizational and time management skills
• Computer skills
• Working with diverse communities and people
• Event organizing experience
• Community volunteer experience
• Excellent writing skills
• Experience with event and community organizing
• Excellent computer skills including Mac, some graphic design, spreadsheets
• Excellent public speaking and presentation skills.
Please send resumes to: ?firstname.lastname@example.org
January 19 2012 »
Carr Clifton’s Sacred Headwaters photography exhibit a huge success!
Carr Clifton Photography :: 1211 Genesee Road :: Taylorsville, CA 95983
530.284.6205 :: www.carrclifton.com
Carr Clifton’s spectacular photographs of the Sacred Headwaters are causing quite the stir in the US. The opening reception was a huge hit and the exhibit, featuring thirty-two fine art prints which celebrate the Sacred Headwaters, is set to be a huge success.
We feel so privileged to have artists such as Clifton share the beauty of our own backyard with the world and join us to protect the Sacred Headwaters!
December 19 2011 » Home Feature
Sacred Headwaters Book Now Available
In a rugged knot of mountains in northern British Columbia lies a spectacular valley known to the First Nations as the Sacred Headwaters. There, three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers—the Stikine, the Skeena, and the Nass—are born in close proximity. Now, against the wishes of all First Nations, the British Columbia government has opened the Sacred Headwaters to industrial development. Imperial Metals proposes an open-pit copper and gold mine, called the Red Chris mine, and Royal Dutch Shell wants to extract coal bed methane gas across a tenure of close to a million acres.
In The Sacred Headwaters, a collection of photographs by Carr Clifton and members of the International League of Conservation Photographers—including Claudio Contreras, Paul Colangelo, and Wade Davis—portray the splendour of the region. These photographs are supplemented by images from other professionals who have worked here, including Sarah Leen of the National Geographic.
The compelling text by Wade Davis, which describes the region’s beauty, the threats to it, and the response of native groups and other inhabitants, is comple- mented by the voices of the Tahltan elders. The inescapable message is that no amount of methane gas can compensate for the sacrifice of a place that could be the Sacred Headwaters of all Canadians and indeed of all peoples of the world.
Wade davis is explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and is the author of numerous books, including Light at the Edge of the World and The Clouded Leopard. He has lived and worked in the Stikine as a park ranger, guide, and anthropologist since 1978. He and his wife, Gail, own Wolf Creek Lodge, the closest private holding to both the Sacred Headwaters and the proposed site of the Red Chris mine.
December 13 2011 » News Clippings » opednews.com
Where The Waters Begin - Shell, Fortune Minerals And Salmon
Where The Waters Begin – Shell, Fortune Minerals And Salmon
By Merv Ritchie
Map detailing the origins of all the Northwest BC waters at Mount Klappan in the Tahltan Territory by Terrace Daily News
“A picture is worth a thousand words’ is a common phrase and in this case a picture is worth the preservation of not only all Northwest life but maybe all life. Words are not enough.
The above picture is of a BC Government produced map. It shows the details of the source of all the major Northwest BC rivers. The Stikine, known as the “Grand Canyon of the North” is one of the last great unspoiled salmon producing rivers. Two others, the Nass and the Skeena Rivers have their origins here, at the Spatzizi Wilderness Plateau and Mount Klappan.
All the rivers flowing off of Mount Klappan and the Spatzizi Wilderness Plateau, which run east, flow into the Stikine River. The Stikine then wraps around this region in a huge arc flowing east, then north, then west, then south into the North Pacific waters of Alaska.
The Little Klappan River captures all the North and the West flowing waters from Mount Klappan and the Spatzizi Wilderness Plateau, which joins the main Klappan River flowing directly into the Stikine, in its westward arc, just east of Highway 37 north of Iskut, BC.
The Skeena River originates along the southern and eastern edges of Mount Klappan capturing all the remaining waters flowing West and South not captured by the Little Klappan River.
Just to the west of the Little Klappan and Skeena Rivers is a small mountain range of peaks in the Skeena Range which defines the border of the Regional District Kitimat Stikine and the Regional District Bulkley Nechako. This range is called the Slamgeesh range and the northern end on these peaks is called the Groundhog. Like the peak of the roof of a home the waters run off each side. To the east these waters run into the Little Klappan and the Skeena River. To the west the waters flow into the Nass River and the main Klappan River and there is a small lake at the origin of these two rivers. The North end of this lake flows into the Klappan River and the south end of the lake flows into the Nass River. This region is truly the top of our world.
It is this entire region, detailed and defined above, which the BC Government has identified and labelled as the Provincial Government Coal Reserve. The mineral exploration and lease holders have for decades called it the Groundhog. Today two Companies are actively preparing to disturb this territory.
Map detailing BC Provincial Government Coal Reserve located at the headwaters of these major rivers by Terrace Daily News
Royal Dutch Shell is preparing to employ a method to extract the Methane gas trapped and contained within the coal fields by using an extremely poisonous and polluting activity called Fracking. Fortune Minerals is planning to simply tear down Mount Klappan and the surrounding territory to take the coal away.
Reason and logic demonstrate a simple truth, this is nature’s water filter for all life. As can be shown by using an aquarium water filter or even a counter top Brita water filter, coal and charcoal are the highest premium water purity and filtering systems.
The Klappan region, the Ground Hog and the Spatzizi Wilderness Plateau are at the height of the Northwest. All waters flow from this high point into every river and every water source. It is this natural “Coal Bed’ field that provides the purity for all the salmon bearing streams and rivers. The Klappan is the incubator, the nursery, the life source of every living thing. To disturb this region is to sacrifice all life on Planet Earth. This might sound dramatic but it truly is this important. All North Pacific waters, this means most marine life, depend on the Salmon originating from the pure Klappan waters. All Northwest BC Rainforest habitats (25% of the worlds rainforests) depend on the returning spawning salmon for their nutrients, from the Bears and Wolves to the trees which derive a significant portion of their nutrients from rotting salmon carcasses left in the woods by the carnivores who have already fed on them. These forests produce the oxygen we all need to breathe.
Astoundingly, these rivers are attempting to deliver a message to humanity by forming the profile of a human face looking east as if to warn humanity of our folly.
Profile of human face looking east formed by the major rivers of northwest BC, Canada by Terrace Daily News
The Klappan is the origin of the life cycle. Today the BC Liberal Party and the associated BC government is urging the completion of a rail line through to the Klappan to assist Fortune Minerals and others to extract the Coal. Royal Dutch Shell is now pursuing their gas extraction plans pushing the BC Government to allow them to proceed.
Any and every person who encourages and facilitates this proposal is quite bluntly a traitor to humanity and all life. There is no excuse, nothing to excuse, no manner in which to justify such an abhorrent attack on the blood stream of all Northwest life. In a reasonable world those who participated in destroying such an indispensible, essential and even mandatory system for survival would not just be expelled they would be executed. What would be a reasonable action to take against an individual or corporation that destroyed your food source for hundreds of years?
This concept is an all out attack on everything life sustaining. It is imperative that all peoples take all action to prevent any incursion into these regions. Anything less is not just cowardly it is unforgivable.
December 12 2011 » Multimedia » Moldy Chum blog
Make the Sacred Headwaters gas drilling ban permanent!
Make the Sacred Headwaters gas drilling ban permanent!
Set to expire in December of 2012, environmental groups are calling for an existing provincial moratorium on drilling in the Sacred Headwaters to be extended indefinitely.
LINK (Via: The Vancouver Sun)
A new book, The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena and Nass, by Wade Davis, Carr Cliton and Robert Kennedy Jr, is do out on the 14th.
December 06 2011 » News Clippings » Vancouver Sun
Make Sacred Headwaters gas drill ban permanent: eco-groupsMake Sacred Headwaters gas drill ban permanent: eco-groups By Gordon Hamilton
Pictured is the Sacred Headwaters region of Northwestern B.C., Divide Mountain where waters from its slopes and Mount Klappen form the source of Stikine, Nass, and Skeena rivers. Environmental groups opposed to a Shell Canada proposal to drill for coal-bed methane in the headwaters are calling for an existing provincial moratorium on drilling in the region to be extended indefinitely.
Photograph by: Vance Culbert, Vancouver Sun
Environmental groups opposed to a Shell Canada proposal to drill for coal bed methane in the headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers are calling for an existing provincial moratorium on drilling in the region to be extended indefinitely.
In 2008, prompted by strong regional opposition to the gas extraction program, the province placed a four-year moratorium on Shell’s gas-drilling tenure in the region, called the Klap-pen Basin, but referred to as the Sacred Headwaters by environ-mental activists and first nations. With that moratorium set to expire in 2012, ForestEthics and the Skeena Watershed Coalition say the province risks putting its natural gas industry under the environmental spotlight if it allows Shell to go ahead.
The Klappen controversy is one of two energy development plans for the northwest coming under increasingly strong opposition as the region braces for an unprecedented resources boom. Communities, first nations and environmentalists are also lining up against Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline plan.
ForestEthics spokesman Andrew Frank said in an inter-view that up until now, the B.C. gas industry has been spared the type of reaction Enbridge’s oilsands pipeline has fuelled. The same arguments behind the provincial moratorium are still true today and the province is putting at risk the entire natural gas industry if it allows this one development to go ahead, he said. “The Sacred Headwaters would be the poster child for what’s wrong with B.C. regulations,” he said.
The eco-groups say that under current regulations, Shell can drill 4,000 wells and clear thousands of kilometres of roads. The groups want Premier Christy Clark to make the four-year moratorium permanent. In a television interview one year ago, then-energy minister Blair Lekstrom said the moratorium is coming off in December 2012.
The Klappen Basin is rich in wildlife and one of the rivers that originates there, the Skeena, supports a $110-million-a-year fishery, said ForestEthics campaigner Karen Tam Wu.
She said gas drilling would require a network of roads in one of the province’s last wilderness areas as well as the potential for gas extraction to result in pollution to the three rivers.
“Permanently banning coal bed methane in the Sacred Headwaters would be an important signal to British Columbians that the government is serious about responsible development of the province’s unconventional gas resources. If the government allows coal bed methane to be developed in a pristine wilderness like the Sacred Headwaters, it would signal that B.C. truly is the Wild West where nowhere is off-limits.”
Shell Canada received the provincial land tenure in 2004 to explore for coal bed methane. The province granted the tenure after Shell signed a memorandum of understanding with the leaders of the Tahl-tan First Nation. But strong community opposition to the drilling resulted in a change in leadership. The Tahltan began blockading roads in 2007.
Calls to Shell Canada were not returned.
December 05 2011 » Media Releases
Conservationists Ask Christy Clark to Ban Coalbed Methane Drilling in BC’s Sacred Headwaters
Conservationists Ask Clark to Ban Coalbed Methane Drilling in BC’s Sacred Headwaters, Once and For All
With moratorium set to expire in one year, the Sacred Headwaters offer a potential political win for BC’s Premier – or a potential PR nightmare for gas development
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA— There is one year remaining on the BC government’s moratorium on coalbed methane drilling in the Sacred Headwaters, and conservation groups ForestEthics and the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition are calling on Christy Clark to institute a permanent ban on drilling in the area.
The request comes as the groups are ramping up their campaign against Shell and the BC government, to protect the Sacred Headwaters. A lump of coal and giant greeting card were delivered this morning to Royal Dutch CEO, Peter Voser, at his office in the Hague, Netherlands, issuing a one year ultimatum for Shell to abandon its plans to drill in the headwaters, and reminding the company that 60,000 people have signed a petition opposing its plans.
“Natural gas could face the same backlash as tar sands if Shell’s destructive plans for the Sacred Headwaters are allowed to proceed,” says Karen Tam Wu, Senior Conservation Campaigner with ForestEthics. “What happens in the Sacred Headwaters will determine the image of natural gas development in BC Shell and Christy Clark have one year to make sure it’s the right one.”
To illustrate the risk of Shell’s plans, the groups have created a coalbed methane simulation map. Current regulations would allow the drilling and fracking of over 4000 wells, and the clearing of thousands of kilometers of roads in the Sacred Headwaters, the birthplace of three of North America’s most important salmon rivers, and numerous First Nations’ creation stories.
“Four years ago, the BC government listened to northwestern communities and pushed pause on drilling in the Sacred Headwaters. Now it’s up to Premier Clark to follow that path to its logical conclusion,” says Shannon McPhail, Executive Director of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. “A permanent ban would indicate to local communities, First Nations and the rest of British Columbia that the government is committed to establishing a truly responsible industry.”
Last week, the groups placed ads at Shell Canada President Lorraine Mitchelmore’s favourite ski hill in the Canadian Rockies, featuring breathtaking photos and reminding her that the Sacred Headwaters are “Out of Bounds”.
The Sacred Headwaters are located in northwest British Columbia, about 600 kilometres north of Terrace, BC They are home to grizzly bears, caribou and moose. In 2008, the BC government imposed a four-year moratorium on Shell’s activities in the area. The headwaters have been listed on the Outdoor Recreation Council’s Most Endangered Rivers List for the past two years.
Photos of today’s action at Royal Dutch Shell headquarters and copies of the coalbed methane simulation map are available upon request.
December 01 2011 » Media Releases
Coalbed Methane: Shell President Is “Out of Bounds” in BC’s Sacred Headwaters
Coalbed Methane: Shell President Is “Out of Bounds” in BC’s Sacred Headwaters
New ads at Lorraine Mitchelmore’s favorite ski hill are reminders that Sacred Headwaters are out of bounds.
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Shell Canada President, Lorraine Mitchelmore, is “out of bounds” in her company’s pursuit of coalbed methane development in BC’s Sacred Headwaters, according to new ski hill ads placed by conservation groups ForestEthics and the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.
The Sacred Headwaters, in Northwest British Columbia, are the birthplace of several First Nations creation stories and three of North America’s most important wild salmon rivers. They are home to grizzly bears, caribou and moose. Shell currently has plans to drill thousands of coalbed methane wells in the area.
Click the ads below to view them as full-sized images >>
“Lorraine Mitchelmore can work for the weekend and head for the ski hill, without thinking about the dire consequences her company’s actions would have in the Sacred Headwaters, but First Nations and residents of Northwest B.C. would have to live with irreversible impacts forever”, says Karen Tam Wu, Senior Conservation Campaigner with Forest Ethics. “We want to keep this issue top of mind for her, all of the time.”
The ads, which feature breathtaking photos of the Sacred Headwaters with glaring “Out of Bounds” signs, criticize Shell’s plans to drill thousands of wells and build thousands of kilometres of roads. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – a controversial practice linked to water pollution, methane leaks, and extreme water usage – would be used to extract the gas.
“All downstream communities have rejected Shell’s proposal to frack in the Sacred Headwaters, “ says Shannon McPhail, Executive Director of Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. “Wild salmon and wildlife like moose, which thrive in this area, are the lifeblood of our communities’ cultures, livelihoods, and traditions. The ads are a reminder to Mitchelmore that the Sacred Headwaters are off limits.”
The Sacred Headwaters. the shared source of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers, is located in a remote region of northwest British Columbia, about 600 kilometres north of Terrace, B.C. In 2008, the B.C. Government imposed a four-year ban on Shell’s activities. ?The Sacred Headwaters has been listed on the Outdoor Recreation Council’s Most Endangered Rivers List the past two years.
November 15 2011 » Media Releases
2011 Municipal Election Candidate Surveys
WHO WILL PROTECT OUR WILD SALMON? YOU DECIDE
SWCC & Friends of Wild Salmon surveyed candidates from Smithers, Terrace, New Hazelton, Prince Rupert & Kitimat. Below is the list of 5 questions they were asked. The candidate responses have been pasted directly below and no corrections of spelling, context or grammar were made to ensure their answers were delivered exactly how they were received.
We have done this so you can make an informed vote this November 19th. You MUST vote, it’s the way to ensure your values are reflected in decisions that your mayor and council are making. It doesn’t matter if you don’t live in town, you can still vote for your Regional District representative.
“Where/How do I vote?”:http://www.elections.civicinfo.bc.ca/2011/
1. What do you perceive as the single greatest human- caused threat to Skeena wild salmon?
2. If elected, what will you do to ensure sustainability of our Skeena wild salmon?
3. Do you support or oppose the Enbridge pipeline? 4. What do you think is the single greatest opportunity
for non-industrialized community economic
5. Do you support protection of the Sacred Headwaters?_
1. In terms of specific threats to salmon, I believe open-net fish farms are the most worrisome, particularly with the news that a new virus is spreading to wild salmon populations.
2. As mayor, I would speak out in defence of our wild salmon economy, including supporting our in-river commercial fishery and sport-angling sector. I will also make cumulative impacts and the health of wild salmon foremost considerations in all deliberations on resource development.
3. I do not support the Enbridge pipeline.
4. Our diverse economy is our greatest strength, and has protected us from the ups and downs that have hurt other communities. Supporting local small businesses and entrepreneurs in our community is a big opportunity, particularly in the creative and knowledge-based sectors. Tourism is also an underdeveloped sector, and deserves greater emphasis. I believe these provide good complements to our traditional resource industries, which remain essential.
5. I support a long-term solution in the Sacred Headwaters that safeguards the area from coalbed methane drilling and provides economic development opportunities for local communities.
Cress Farrow – Could not reach/Did not respond
Norm Adomeit – Could not reach/Did not respond
Mark Bandstra – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. Currently the largest threat would be open net fish farms but looking forward the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline poses a real threat to wild salmon and the people who depend on them for food and their employment. The benefit to our area is so small and the threat to the environment and peoples financial and personal well being is so great. One study valued the fishery in the Skeena River system at 110 million dollars annually. If we value our streams, rivers and wild salmon, we cannot support Enbridge or open net fish farms
2. I will work with local groups such as FOWS, SWCC, Local Guides, Sport Fisherman, First Nations and others in as open and inclusive a consultation process as possible to work on solutions and use that information to lobby the provincial and federal governments for the changes that are needed to ensure the sustainability of our wild fish stocks and a quality experience and way of life on the river for everyone. 3. As I stated above I am opposed to the Enbridge Pipeline. In July of 2010 over 819,000 gallons of oil spilled from an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan polluting the Kalamazoo river. Over a year later there is still pockets of submerged oil in the river. This is just one of a number of recent pipeline spills. So many people depend on our river systems here. The consequences of a spill like this in our river system would be devastating.
4. We need to start looking closer to home for economic development. Small business is the backbone of so many communities but they rarely get the support they deserve. Tourism operators, fishing guides and the retail sector that serve
the fishing community our important to our local economy. Mining, Industry, and Forestry will always be important components of our communities but we cannot put all of our eggs in one basket or we will be at the mercy of rising and falling commodity prices and the boom bust cycle. We must also ensure that one development does not adversely affect another established industry.
5. The sacred headwaters is the birthplace of our local river system. As I have mentioned in previous questions the fishery aspect of the river alone is worth over 110 million dollars annually. We must be careful that development does not affect established industries and that we protect our natural environment. Ideally the wishes of the Tahltan people who live in the Sacred Headwaters would be respected. They could take a leadership role in partnership with industry to promote development that works for all involved.
1. The single greatest human threat to Skeena wild salmon in my opinion is climate change. With waters warming, seasons changing, water levels shifting with so many influences of warming this would threaten not only Skeena wild salmon the environment, and many other factors linked to their habitat,
2. Smithers need continue with their carbon plan as a community to lead in methods to reduce carbon emmissions, and ensure we support responsible fish management practice, explore research into methods and locations to attract and grow other forms of industry that is sensitive, safe, and enhances this resource, and finally help to create more awareness about the importance of wild salmon to the quality of life and culture of the Bulkley Valley.
4. Single greatest opportunity for non-industrialized community economic development in my opinion is local food development and business support; for local consumption and distribution in general (perhaps even exported with specialty products) – through various value added opportunities including fruit, veggies, berries, meat and yes, fish!
1. The single greatest threat to wild salmon is fish farms and the many attendant problems, most notably diseases.
2. If elected I will ensure that the Town of Smithers is kept up to date on issues related to the rivers and fish and furtherthat the Town gets involved advocating for wild salmon.
3. I am unalterably opposed to the Enbridge pipeline.
4. I personally feel that the knowledge and cultural workers of this community will be our next economic engine.
Scott Groves – Could not reach/Did not respond
Dan Mesec – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. Human actions are the greatest threat to all environments and we need to “do better” not less about it.
2. I believe an elected official has to concentrate on their specific authority and jurisdiction to govern while encouraging all citizens to engage at all three levels of government; municipal/regional/, provincial, and federal. I have worked hard in the municipal decision making process in favor of doing “what is right” for the communities interest in maintaining and enforcing established policy and regulation. Listening and being afforded the opportunity to hear all sides on every issue is key in the decision making responsibility; as every issue has three sides.
3. Smithers Council was the first Municipal Council to bring the three sides around the “Endbrige pipeline” together in a public forum. I believe that goal to ensure the public obtained the most information possible from all sides was the right action. Personally I feel the initial presentations we received opposing the way the “tar sands are mined” is the best approach. If we are going to continue mining our Canadian tar sands, we have to ensure they are done in a safer and improved manner. I am still undecided “if” oil is to be transported, what is the safest manner; opposed to yes or no. Is it okay in someone else’s backyard but not mine?
4. I believe Tourism with a camera and opportunity to “feel and experience” is our single greatest non-industrialized option.
5. I sat on the Real Estate Foundation selection committee for the “2011 B C Land Champion award” that choose Mark Angelo as the 2011 recipient. Mark is an internationally renowned river conservationist. I have spoken not only about protecting “sacred headwaters” but all our “taking for granted” of our most precious commodity, water, since being elected. Some day Smithers may even have water metres and filtered storm drainage. Mark Angelo received the award November 4, 2011.
1. While I believe that global warming is the single greatest human-caused threat to Skeena wild salmon, I also believe that the ability of Skeena wild salmon to adapt to global climate change is severely exacerbated by the cumulative effects of all human activities on both the terrestrial and fresh and salt water aquatic habitats. These cumulative effects include increased linear disturbance densities throughout the watershed, changes in water quality and quantity, unsustainable recreational and commercial harvests, activities of exploitative industries such as the mining, forestry and oil and gas industries, and more recently, diseases.
2. The Smithers Town Council must speak for the interests of its citizens and while many of the forces affecting Skeena wild salmon are outside of municipal jurisdiction, this will not prevent me from seizing ever opportunity to use my position on Council to advocate for the improved management of human activities that could adversely affect wild salmon. This will involve working closely and collaboratively with citizen groups and other regional interests that are concerned about the sustainability of the Skeena wild salmon, along with other municipal, provincial, national, and international governments with interests in conserving on wild salmon.
3. I am clearing on the public record as being opposed to the proposed Enbridge pipeline project. 4. Depending on how “non-industrialized” is defined, I believe that there are many secondary and tertiary opportunities for re-processing and manufacturing of wood products (ie doors, windows, moulding, ect) for regional use and for export to domestic and international markets. Why do we continue to export raw logs to China when that wood could be used to create sustainable, high quality jobs in our communities. Once these industries are up and running I would turn my attention to attracting technology based businesses that are involve in environmentally and socially sustainable industries. 5. I believe that the Scared Headwaters must be protected if we want long term security that oil and gas industry activities will not adversely harm the regions biological, social and cultural values. In the absence of meaningful protected area status, Shell will doggedly continue with its goal to exploit the regions natural gas resources and given recent developments towards creating a major natural gas pipeline corridor in the southern Skeena watershed, I believe it is imperative that protect status be pursued without delay.
Cheryl Ann Stahel
1. Industry’s deliberate disassociation from undeniable impacts of self interested pursuits for money/control/power over the environment – no matter the cost to habitats or the expressed concerns of all peoples. (28) 2. Follow your lead: ‘... ensure the sound stewardship of our natural resources while promoting sustainability … raising awareness … ’. Participate in events and learning opportunities, move those voices ahead to tables municipal councilors can be heard at. I am a lay-person in this issue but believe in this issue. (50)
4. Local governments need to function based on solution focused thinking… diversifying healthy-living amenities is an investment in sustainable economic development. (20)
1. I think the greatest human-caused threat to Skeena wild salmon, as with most wild animals, is irreversible loss of habitat. Salmon have adapted to numerous changes throughout their history on this planet, and have been able to survive these changes. While overfishing is also a threat, this can be regulated to enable depleted stocks to recover. Destruction of their spawning and feeding habitat will not allow for recovery of stocks, and could leave to extirpation.
2. If elected as town councillor, I would advocate for the importance of retaining our wild salmon stocks, and would ensure that any fish-bearing streams within Smithers town boundary not be negatively impacted by any town operations or developments. I think beyond the town limits, town councilors are somewhat limited in the impact they can have. Since salmon habitat
crosses many jurisdictions, many decisions are made at a higher level than the municipality. That being said, working collaboratively with these other levels of government and NGOs, I would make sure that wild salmon sustainability has a high profile.
3. I oppose the Enbridge pipeline project for the following reasons: 1) I don’t think the risks associated with a pipeline of this size outweigh the benefits. The chances that a pipeline rupture could occur are high, and the increased tanker traffic would also increase the chance of a spill; 2) I don’t think a large number of local jobs will be created, and; 3) The shipping of condensate across the Pacific Ocean is encouraging our continued reliance on fossil fuels. I believe we need to start looking at alternatives, in order to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.
4. Increased tourism is the greatest opportunity that northwestern B.C. has for non-industrialized community development. Recreational tourism brings people to the community, and these people spend money that allows for development. Most tourism is low impact to the environment, and allows for the development of businesses to supply goods and services to the tourists. The development of these businesses is also essential in engaging the human resource, and leads to community development and stability. I think more work needs to be done to encourage tourism in our area, and I would definitely be an advocate for tourism if elected.
5. I personally support the protection of this important area. If I am elected to Smithers town council, I will take any opportunity there is to support the protection of the Sacred Headwaters. Unfortunately, I think the ability of a town councillor to influence decisions like the protection of the Sacred Headwaters is limited by the location of the Headwaters (outside of the town’s jurisdiction), and the levels of government that are involved in creating protected areas. Smithers town council could certainly show support at the municipal level, and advocate for protection whenever possible.
1. I believe that the greatest human-caused threat to the Skeena (and indeed all) wild salmon is the lack of a cohesive management plan for the resource. All stakeholders including sports fisheries, commercial fisheries (both American and Canadian), salmon farmers and Native fisheries need to come together to establish a resource management plan that ensures that we are able to protect Wild Salmon stocks and still utilize the resource to the advantage of all.
2. As a member of Town Council, we have to help in whatever way we can. Mostly, we can help by strongly voicing concerns to the more senior levels of government. At the council level, our most effective tool is to maintain the health of the portion of the Bulkley River and its tributaries that flow through Smithers. We can do this by ensuring that our sewage continues to be treated effectively and that our storm drains are filtered before their outfall into the river and our streams. The South Trunk storm sewer project allows us to use our wetlands to help naturally filter our storm sewer outflow, so Council should continue to pursue funds to connect the trunk to the main lines.
3. At this time, I personally oppose the Enbridge pipeline. As a member of the current council seeking re-election, I stand by our decision to not issue a “yes” or “no” position, based on the fact that such a decision would not have been unanimous, and would have possibly left us in the position of having the newly elected council issuing a contrary position within a month of our council having issued a position, thus diluting any message being sent by the Town of Smithers.
4. If we want to leave “industrialized” out of the equation, then commercial support of the “industrialized” developments should probably be left out as well… In that case, I would have to say tourism continues to be a great area of growth, but we have to be careful to ensure that we keep our area attractive
to tourists. For example, it is excellent that we have tourists coming in to fish our waters, but we have to make sure that we don’t allow the waters to be overfished, or the “fishing” tourism sector will suffer.
5. Until we fully understand the impacts of development, I support protection of the Skeena Headwaters.
The survey doesn’t allow varying degrees of agreement or disagreement with the limit of 100 words, but I have answered the first and second question.
I perceive over-fishing and pollution as the greatest human- caused threats to Skeena wild salmon but I do not necessarily think it is the fishers on the North Coast who are over-fishing, as I am aware of very creative and sustainable fishing practices being employed, but is resulting from fishing practices before they reach the Skeena and pollution from outside the region. Ensuring the sustainability of Skeena wild salmon is not a direct mandate of a City Council. It resides with organizations such as yours to lobby for proper fishing practices and maintenance; hopefully, with the support of Council.
Corinna Morhart – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. To much escapement; disease in the spawning channels.
2. Lobby for increased enhancement.
3. Ad Mayor, and on any topic, must wait for the review process to end, before providing comment.
4. Greater enhancement and fuller utilization of wildlife and fish stocks. We have very scenic and beautiful areas that can be shown to the world, Canada has favored nation status with China, there’s a tourism opportunity.
1. There are many human-caused threats to Skeena wild salmon. The biggest threat would be global warming and its effects on water temperature and climate which ultimately affect salmon stocks, especially as they spawn. If salmon cannot recognize the waters they came from, as they return to the rivers, then the life cycle is interrupted and as a result salmon stocks decline. Policies need to be created that reflect environmentally sound practices in business and industry and funding must be available to support their implementation. This also means holding government agencies to task on enforcing environmental policies around resource use.
2. Since fisheries are under federal jurisdiction, municipal levels of government do not have any power to create policies around this matter. However, there is power in working together with our fellow municipalities and organizations such as the Union of BC Municipalities to put forward resolutions that protect our wild stocks. It is my belief that municipal governments should lobby other levels of government to create, fund and enforce policies that support sustainability, and environmentally sound practices to ensure that there is a sound balance between environmental, economic, social and cultural considerations.
3. I believe in economic and environmentally sustainable resource use. As a Prince Rupert citizen, I don’t believe the Enbridge pipeline is worth the risk. There is virtually no financial benefit in terms of jobs, or revenues for our city. It is a huge risk to our quality of life and the industries we rely on in our community such as sport and commercial fishing, tourism, and aquaculture in the event of an oil spill. As a councillor however, I believe it is the people of Prince Rupert that should decide whether or not they want projects like the Enbridge pipeline.
4. The single greatest opportunity for non-industrialized community economic development is in the area of Tourism, which although technically an industry, does not have the same effect on the environment as other resource industries. It is renewable and sustainable while providing many jobs and a lot of revenue to our city. There are huge opportunities for the development of the tourism sector in our region, due to our beautiful coastlines, majestic mountains, pristine waters and abundant wildlife. We can partner with our first nations neighbours, and neighbouring local governments, to expand this sector in the areas of cultural and eco-tourism.
5. The proposed development in the Sacred headwaters would potentially contaminate the watershed at its source which would have wide ranging impacts on the entire ecosystem. This can cause such things as contaminated drinking water, depleted salmon stocks (destruction of spawning beds), loss of wildlife habitat, loss of revenue and resources for the sport and commercial fishing industry, as well as others. I don’t believe the currently proposed resource extraction from this area is environmentally sound or sustainable due to the nature of the process being proposed for use.
1. I believe that over conversation is a huge threat to our sustainability, as well as pollution. I grew in and around the fishing industry and so I appreciate proper management of our resources. I also believe that protecting our waters is a crucial component when it comes to talking about our future. We need to do what’s best for our waters and lands and think
strategically about the our future as a marine city.
2. In my platform I state “Promoting economic development with the intention of hiring locally and training locally. While also keeping in mind that there are no environmental or community risks involved in projects”
3. Yes, I believe that the Pipeline could generate more jobs in our communities however, the risks are very visible and not worth jeopardizing our waters. We need to protect our waters at all costs. I understand that people think that the Pipeline will help develop our help community but it may also may ruin our livelihood, sustenance and future as a marine city.
1. My perception is that the single greatest human caused threat to skeena wild salmon is the possible contamination from tailings from mining sites and other heavy industrial contaminates.
2. If elected, I will ensure that we continue to lobby our federal and provincial governments to protect Skeena Wild Salmon
3. Personally, at this time, I do not support Endbridge as I still have alot of unanswered questions ….What I do know is that I do not want to be held responsible for the devastation that will occur when there is a catastrophic oil spill , be it on the ocean
or inland…....I have questioned them several times at council meetings and they continually are unable give the responses that I need in order to make an informed desicion.
4. I believe there are many opportunities for non- industrialized community economic development. What the single greatest opportunity is…..I would have to explore those opportunities…..it is not up to me to decide…..it is up business to decide what that looks like…..perhaps food production is a possibity…..be it mariculture, aquaculture, salmon ranching, shell fish production…..harvesting mushrooms from the forest floor…...and other plants that might be used in phamasutical applications…..there are endless opportunities to be explored.
5. Yes, I do support protection of the Sacred Headwaters.
Christo Holmes – Could not reach/Did not respond
Kinney Nelson – Could not reach/Did not respond
James Kirk – Could not reach/Did not respond
Conrad Lewis – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. Supply and demand market.
2. I do not have an answer for you because I am not aware of municipal powers over the issue of wild salmon. I am prepared to learn how and at what level I could be educated and involved.
4. Alternate hydro power generation.
1. At the present moment I think the greatest human-caused threat to Skeena wild salmon would be the federal government
that the people of Canada have put in leadership. Unfortunately, the present government does not seem to understand the value of wild salmon to the people of British Columbia. This is demonstrated by recent endorsements for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project from federal ministers before the review of the project has even been completed. It is also demonstrated by the recent cancelling of the funding of the PNCIMA (Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area) process. This marine planning process will help plan for the future determining areas allocated for specifics uses including First Nations use, commercial use and protected areas.
2. If elected I would support economic and community development projects that are in tune with the values of the people that live in the Northwest. That includes a life and culture where salmon and other species of fish are valued and not put at risk.
3. I do not support the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines proposal that would see 1200 kms of twin pipelines running from the Alberta tar sands to the town of Kitimat. The project would mean crossing 1000s of fish-bearing streams and would introduce super-tankers to Northern waters that would be required to navigate the rocky shores of Douglas Channel. While all development has an environmental impact to a certain degree, the risks of this particular project far outweigh the benefits
4. This is a great question and should be posed to the people who live here. I think the possibilities are limited to our collective imaginations. One possibility would be local energy production such as small wind turbine generated, or tidal produced energy. Not only is this an economic opportunity for Prince Rupert but it helps build community resilience. We are after all, a small and isolated community at the end of a road.
5. I do support the protection of the Sacred Headwaters — The Headwaters of the Skeena, Stikine and Nass rivers. These 3 great rivers are of tremendous economic and cultural significance to the people of the Northwest. Putting these rivers at risk by drilling for coal bed methane is a risky practise that has a record of poor success with much environmental degradation. This activity has the potential to destroy fish and fish habitat including eulachon, a species at risk and of great importance to local First Nations hence I support the protection of the Sacred Headwaters.
Farley Stewart – Could not reach/Did not respond
Joy Thorkelson – Could not reach/Did not respond
Robert Vallee – Could not reach/Did not respond
Don Dunster – Could not reach/Did not respond
Jennifer Lewis – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. Industrialization of the Basin. Federal Government Treating Salmon as a commodity, Forestry treating habitat as expendable. Pipeline building arguing short-term damage is reasonable, and long-term pipeline risks are manageable. We need to put the fish first in our consciousness and actions.
2. I will bring the River into every conversation, into every promotion, and into the consciousness of the people. I will develop a stewardship position, first through the Terrace Community Forest Strategic Plan and then through advocacy and promotion of those standards. I welcome insight and participation in this process next spring if I am elected. I have also long advocated for our region to be called the Skeena Region “officially” to remind us why we are here in all our actions.
3. I am absolutely opposed to any Pipleline carrying Crude Oil or Bitumen through our mountains, across our streams and beside our rivers. I oppose any crude tanker , big or small, shipping through our Northern channels and waters. I have been front and centre on this issue since I was elected, challenging our Council to move to an opposition role so we can begin to challenge this project before it is too late.
4. I am particularly interested in the local food movement, and with the right policies and promotion I believe we can approach sustainability in this field and stream, particularly as we begin to respect our resources as lifegiving and not just commodities. For example, our Community Garden has over 50 plots un- used, and I am dedicated to promoting that fact this spring. My Waste Diversion Action Plan also has at its core, entrepeneurial access to the waste streams so that innovative solutions can be found and local industry can be developed around waste as we move toward the Zero Waste goal
5. Yes. In fact in a private meeting with Shell as they were promoting their plans for Kitimat (now public knowledge), I brought up the Sacred Headwaters and asked if they were prepared to include that project into their social contract with our communities as they move to develop a Natural Gas Pipeline. I received no answer, but it the type of question you might expect from me when I get the chance. I realize that this issue is on the horizon and I am prepared to cahallenge Council to take a stand, as opposed to the Neutral position they have currently.
1. At the moment, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project.
2. All decisions we make as a community and in this region relating to economic development should ask that question. Our decisions must respect the environment and not impact wild salmon.
3. I do not support the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. I believe that we can’t afford to have even one spill into our rivers and streams or into the ocean from the oil tankers.
4. Our greatest opportunity for non-industrialized community economic development is creating bio-energy from wood waste and building large commercial greenhouse operations to grow organiz produce year-round.
5. Yes, I support the protection of the Sacred Headwaters. The movie, ‘Awakening the Skeena’ with Ali Howard provided an excellent visual reason why we need to treasure the Headwaters and our river systems.
1. The lack of unity of the people of the region along with the numerous disparate groups, including environmental groups, to stand as one entity to protect the region is the greatest threat. Currently no activity is ongoing except the spillage of nuclear waste from Japan into the migration habitat of all salmon stocks. The potential threats include; placement of fish farms on migration routes, proposed coal mining along with coalbed methane drilling in the Klappan region and the potential of a tanker breaking up loaded with raw bitumen releasing hundreds of thousands of litres of carcinogens into the environment.
2. The Skeena River runs through Terrace. The fishing industry provides a significant part of the economic foundation for Terrace. Therefore, any activity, from the headwaters at the Spatzizi Plateau to the waters the migrating salmon pass through, becomes a serious issue of concern. As Mayor I will ensure these habitats are protected to the highest standards such that the waters of the Skeena River will allow the salmon to flourish. This includes monitoring the catch allowances for sport and commercial fishing to provide our council an opportunity to make informed inquires to, and of, the Federal and Provincial governing authorities.
3. I oppose Enbridge building a pipeline to carry the proposed bitumen product from the Tar Sands of Alberta to Douglas Channel at Kitimat for transport in VLCC and ULCC tankers. I would support, if the shipment of petroleum is necessary, the containerized transport by cargo carriers and rail. I would never support the present day method of bulk carriers with the raw petroleum product uncontained. Nor would I support the proposed tank farms on the shores of Douglas Channel, or anywhere. All transport of this product should be in double skinned, vacuum sealed containers, from the origin to the destination.
4. Without any doubt it is the First Nations Culture. This has been virtually ignored and has the potential to bring ten times the travelling tourist and revenue to the region than the salmon fishing ever will. With very little investment, simply the nurturing of the elders and the youth of the eight Nations of the region; the Nisga’a, Haisla, Haida, Tsimshian, Tlingit, Gitxsan, Wet’suwet’en and Tahltan, we might be able to become an attraction of international notoriety. The immense revenues derived from this activity could fund infrastructure projects to further enhance the culture working as a perpetual economic engine.
5. Yes. What is referred to as the Sacred headwaters is the Klappan region. This area borders the Spatzizi Wilderness Plateau and has been identified as holding a massive quantity of Coal called the Groundhog deposit, which Fortune Minerals plans to mine. This deposit acts as a water filter for three major rivers of the northwest; the Stikine, the Skeena and the Nass. These rivers provide
the lifeblood and nourishment for everything living in the northwest. There is no location in British Columbia that has more significance to such a wide array of habitat. The Sacred Headwaters is just that, sacred.
Tamara Ainscow – Could not reach/Did not respond
Bruce Bidgood – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. over fishing and mismanagement
2. I am not a biologist and would rely heavily on input from experts in this field.
3. I am opposed to enbridge
4. recreation and eco-tourism
1. I think the single greatest threat is irresponsible resource extraction. Certainly there are industrial projects that can take place without increasing the risks to our river systems. It is important that as a community we look past quick economic gains and instead focus on projects that will have a lasting benefit to the region without jeopardizing our environment.
2. Municipally, we can work with higher levels of government and agencies on issues outside municipal jurisdiction. An area within the control of the City and Regional District is waste management. With a soon to be recycling drop off centre, I would like to see the city and RD work to prevent dumping in and around our river. I would propose a “Keep it out of the River” campaign encouraging recycling of products, eliminating tipping fees at the dump for items that are not returnable, and increasing fines for illegal dumping. This would help to keep our water system cleaner.
3. I oppose the Enbridge pipeline. Terrace and local businesses earn millions of dollars a year from tourism and fishing. We will see an economic benefit from construction of the pipeline but that benefit will come and then go, whereas proper stewardship of our rivers will provide economic benefit year after year.
4. The most viable non-industrialized development would be First Nations and Ecotourism. That said there would still be environmental impacts associated with increasing tourism such as increased traffic through YXT. We will need to look at some industrialized economic development if we are to promote growth and give tax relief to homeowners as explained in question 1.
5. I am on record from the 2008 election opposing coal bed methane extraction in the Scared Headwaters.
Marylin Davies – Could not reach/Did not respond
Brian Downie – Could not reach/Did not respond
MaryAnn Freeman – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. Climate change, Shell, Enbridge, and the hydro power project frenzy currently overtaking our region, all make it near the top of my list but, the single greatest threat comes from finger pointers like myself who lay blame on others for the slow moving catastrophe of biosphere degradation. Almost everyone I know (I include myself in this), over consume resources and are addicted to fossil fuels. Herein lies the systemic source of the single greatest threat to Skeena wild salmon.
2. I will do everything in my power to encourage Terrace City Council to officially oppose Enbridge and Shell’s CBM plans.
4. Expansion of our local food system.
5. Yes, with all my heart.
Tyson Hull – Could not reach/Did not respond
Dan LeFrancois – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. Fish farming. I am, by no means, an expert. The more I learn, the more they scare me. This was the first thing that came to mind, there are others.
2. Elected officials are attaching a higher priority to sustainability in general as they become more aware of its significance, and certainly have some influence in their respective areas of responsibility. I, as a city Councillor,
may advocate the cause of our wild salmon, get resolutions passed, promote education and create awareness but; it will be ineffective unless it is done “up and down the river” so to speak. I used the word “heartened” earlier, with respect to your survey, because it sends the message “people are watching” and may help to motivate the greater co-operation that is required.
3. Tampering with the Sacred Headwaters, the Enbridge pipeline and the associated oil tanker traffic have the potential to destroy our way of life as effectively as any invading army and must be opposed with as much tenacity. I have said this before and there is not enough money to change this stand.
I will interject here, a Direct Democracy, where people, (not politicians or committees), are the final authority on any issue, would have the power to stop these actions cold. No appeals, no “ifs ands or buts”. 4. Tourism (and the associated recreational and service industries) Win/ win. Maintain the beauty and the ecology while deriving a very prosperous livelihood and preserving tradition. For so long it was “Super Natural BC”. Now, we are on course for supernatural BC – as in “nothing left but ghosts” We must apply our wisdom soon. The “boom/bust” cycles have been cancerous and destructive. Tourism may prove to be slower growth but will be healthy growth, and will immunize us from this cycle.
5. Tampering with the Sacred Headwaters, the Enbridge pipeline and the associated oil tanker traffic have the potential to destroy our way of life as effectively as any invading army and must be opposed with as much tenacity. I have said this before and there is not enough money to change this stand. I will interject here, a Direct Democracy, where people, (not politicians or committees), are the final authority on any issue, would have the power to stop these actions cold. No appeals, no “ifs ands or buts”.
2. I will advocate that we take stands. That it is our responsibility as a community and a council to protect and respect our environment. We must also stand by First Nations people who too often are consulted as a token gesture and not truly listened to. This is not an acceptable practice, we must ensure we hear them.
3. Oppose, The potential risks outweigh the potential benefit.
4. Small Business Services. Whether arts, culture, food etc.. We need to support, train and encourage more small business.
5. Yes, we need to protect our communities and maintain their extensive beauty and environmental benefit for the generations to come. Greed should never overpower the desire to ensure stability and sustainability for the generations to follow.
1. Simply put fish farming and the lack of action by government and DFO on this very serious threat.
2. There is little a local government can do other than lobby the Provincial and Federal Governments to protect our salmon. Support good science and reject environmentally dangerous projects. Organizations like Friends of Wild Salmon need to take action. Learn about what the issues are that affect our salmon and support real Salmon not just ideologies. Sustainable programs are essential to maintain any fishery. River lake and stream enhancement is a no brainer yet both DFO and Provincial Fisheries would rather sit on their hands and watch our waterways be degraded
by unsustainable practises. Hatcheries are a great stopgap measure to maintain a fishery but why not fix the problem instead of just massaging it. Even the Hatchery system has been eroded, budgets have been cut, programs curtailed, people laid of. Wouldn’t it be smarter to bring our waterways back from the brink stop overfishing and start repairing? I have witnessed and been involved in restoration projects in other provinces that have not only saved waterways but have created sustainable fisheries. Projects that may have an initial high capital cost, but in the long run cost far less because once restored that fishery need only to be protected and will produce far more fish. The cost of stewardship programs in far less than maintaining hatcheries.
4. Good question. I recently watched a documentary on sustainable living; the premise was somewhat akin to the 100
mile diet. The idea is to develop a sustainable community to the point that growth is not needed to maintain a healthy life style and economy. You would still need industry and commerce but it would be as clean and environmental maintainable. A utopian dream world but the documentary had examples of communities in a number of countries around the world working within that framework. I look forward to hearing the answer from far smarter people than myself.
1. Illegal fishing
3. By law that our council has set out, I am neutral and will remain so until the environmental review comes out.
4. Green issues, like biomass (eg Pytrade, a company from Germany that is dealing in Bio mass, heat and electricity from wood waste, pellets from wood waste and briquettes from cardboard), and tourism.
5. I believe that is a question that should be sent to the NCLGA, as that organization of elected officials covers that area.
Danny Nunes – Could not reach/Did not respond
Jim Thom – Could not reach/Did not respond
Joshua Callahan – Could not reach/Did not respond
Bob Corless – Could not reach/Did not respond
Edwin Empinado – Could not reach/Did not respond
Mario Feldhoff – Could not reach/Did not respond
Phil Germuth – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. Previous to this past year, I would have said logging, but lately with the possible commercial fish-farm introduced viruses into Pacific wild stocks, I would say open-net fish farming may prove to be the greatest threat. Definitive scientific study must be done on this subject.
2. As an elected District of Kitimat Councillor with a close working relationship with our Skeena MLA Robin Austin, and our Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, I will work towards the replacement of open-net fish farms with closed containment systems coupled with enforcement of best forest practices regarding logging. I also endorse continued, full support of the DFO’s Kitimat River Fish Hatchery. 3. I am on record as being opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway (Bitumen) Pipeline. I believe it poses a grave risk to the more than 1000 water courses that it will traverse between Alberta and the BC Coast, as well as posing an unacceptable and possibly catastrophic threat to the entire North Coast through it’s use of super tankers to export the bitumen offshore.
4. In Kitimat, the development of the sport fishing industry, as well as boating, kayaking and eco-tourism focused on the Douglas Channel and on the North Coast in general, is the greatest non-industrial opportunity for development.
5. Yes. I am in favor of making the moratorium on natural gas extraction in the head waters of the major salmon bearing rivers of the northwest a permanent one. I am concerned that through the application of modern techniques like hydraulic fracturing the major water courses of the Northwest could be severely damaged threatening the fish stocks and natural eco-systems of these rivers.
1. The greatest human-caused threat to the Skeena wild salmon, is over fishing, my perception, followed by leaching into the rivers.
2. Education on the maintenance of our fish supply. There have been many changes over the years, and fishing has taken on a specialized kind of fishing, and I am not concerned with the sport fisherman. Lobby the government on strengthen environmental laws, and enforced compliance with the communities and industries.
3. At this time I feel that The Enbridge pipeline, has too many risks, which outweighs the benefits. I am willing to sit down with the government, the industry and communities to insure environmental laws are upgraded and risks are addressed. We have a huge appetite for this commodity, and I don’t hear any solutions, we need to be part of the future building in order to address the huge environmental concerns. That means being part of what we perceive as the projected good and bad changes.
4. Our area is filled with many opportunities by its prestige protected waters, and all that our wonderful Douglas channel has to offer, we also have beautiful surrounds, wonderful culture and traditions. but all that should be looked at with all aspects, I am hopping that we are not looking at elimination of all industries? that is not the answer, we need balance of sustainability which includes, a balance between industry, environment concerns, and social responsibilities.
5. Absolutely support the protection of the Sacred Headwaters, the culture, the protection of the beautiful pristine beauty of this beautiful land, and this can be done with honesty and analysis to the fullest, proposals coming forward. Working with communities, government and industries…to ensure our community needs are met.
John Pacheco – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. In the past I would have considered over fishing by ALL concerned as the most damaging to our wild Skeena Salmon. However, at this time I feel that the proposed Enbridge pipeline running past the Skeena and it’s tributaries, in close proximity to the Skeena watershed, the very greatest threat.
2. I will work diligently to get all concerned to remove the threat of the Enbridge pipeline.
3. Obviously I am opposed to Enbridge.
4. Tourism. We are smack dab in some of the most beautiful, most pristine and mostly undamaged part of the world and lets show case it.
5. Yes – this is where the watershed begins. Without the Headwaters we don’t have drinking water, our wild life downstream are stressed, our First Nations peoples who rely so heavily on salmon for their diet have their way of life wiped out, etc. etc..
1. The greatest human cause threat to the wild salmon would be an oil spill on the west coast, straight up, if we let enbridge in, it’ll only be a matter of time before we experience thee inevitable.
2. If elected I would work with what resources we have as a council to try and keep our oceans clear of oil tankers. 3. I am OPPOSED to the Enbridge pipeline. I don’t need no report to convince me of how I feel on this issue.
4. I believe that the single greatest opportunity for non- industrialized community economic development would have to be the tourism business along with a small business approach geared toward our wilderness and wildlife.
5. Yes I do support the protection of our sacred headwaters.
Corinne Scott – Could not reach/Did not respond
Carl Whicher – Could not reach/Did not respond
Robert Henwood – Could not reach/Did not respond
Gail Lowry – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. I perceive that the single greatest human-caused threat to Skeena wild salmon is overfishing.
2. If I am elected I will be willing to hear from various groups on what their concerns or suggestions are in regards to ensuring sustainability of our Skeena Wild Salmon. I think that being on council we can access the government and voice potential concerns.
3. I am on the fence in regards to whether I am for or against the Enbridge pipeline. I am for it as it will create jobs for the building of it. I do realize that once built it won’t employ many. I also think that there is the potential for many environmental disasters. I think that in order for this to pass there needs to be very strict regulations and safety precautions in place before it is given the go ahead. I am not sure if the benefits outweigh the negatives.
4. I think that the single greatest opportunity for non-industrialized community economic development is to enhance current tourism in this area. We need to maximize on what our community can offer whether it be through eco adventure or historical/cultural adventures. I think that all of the communities need to come together to collaborate and see how the existing tourism can work together to create a bigger attraction to potential visitors.
5. Yes I support the protection of the Sacred Headwaters. I have had the opportunity to see that part of the country and it is amazing. This area is so important as it is the start of all of the water systems in our area as well as other areas. If the headwaters are damaged….so too are our water systems.
George Burns – Could not reach/Did not respond
Braunwyn Henwood – Could not reach/Did not respond
Richard Simms – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. Coalbed Methane extraction in the headwaters.
2. I am not running for council to protect our wild salmon and will not bring the matter up to council. I have supported and will continue to support the opposition to coalbed methane extraction and any other threat to our rivers, lakes and streams.
3. I oppose oil tanker traffic on our coast. The best way to stop the tankers is to stop the pipeline.
4. The tourist industry. We have, in the Skeena (Kispiox) Bulkley valleys, a vast hiking area, full of mountains, lakes, streams, birds, plants and animals, all in a pristine environment. We are one of the best kept secrets in natural Canada.
Pete Weeber – Could not reach/Did not respond
Mike Weeber – Could not reach/Did not respond
1. I think that one of the greatest threats to Skeena wild salmon is the danger of contaminating an area of the river if there were an industrial accident. Both road and rail follow the Skeena closely for long distances.
2. I feel that an additional threat could be the over harvesting of wild salmon before and after they enter the Skeena.
3. I am opposed to the Enbridge pipeline.
4. Tourism is a great opportunity for non industrialized community economic development. We should continue to promote and build on it.
5. I support protection of the Sacred Headwaters
October 12 2011 » Media Releases
10,000 Salmon Finish Exhibit in Prince Rupert
The very successful 10,000 Salmon project on display in Hazelton last year, swam it’s way to Prince Rupert for the summer.
The brightly coloured fish swam on their posts along the bank in Cow Bay and were one of the first things thousands of visitors arriving on the cruise ships saw.
All summer long there was a mecca of activity surrounding the salmon and it was a huge hit for both tourists and locals alike.
A big thank you to the city and councillors of Prince Rupert who were not only enthusiastic about bringing the fish to their shores but also did everything they could to help make the project a success.
If one was to hang out on the bench by the fish they would most likely hear things like, “Wow, look at the size of this watershed!”, “Did you read some of those fish, there are some very passionate children here,” “I had no idea there were so many tributaries along the Skeena,” and my personal favourite, “Protecting this is so important, we should find out how we can help.”
When the fish first arrived many locals also brought their children down to look for their little paper fish on the larger ones and watching one child find her’s was a thrill.
She called to her dad and jumped up and down and then she had her picture taken several times beside her creation. Even more impressive, she started telling her dad about what she had learned and even mentioned the song she sang in the “Up Your Watershed” concert that came to Rupert in the spring.
Now that the tourist season is winding down, it’s time to take the fish down as well. Due to the wet summer and UV rays, the fish are definitely fading and may not make another appearance next summer.
However, the bottom line for all of us involved is they have done a phenomenal job of getting peoples attention, spreading the word about the importance of protecting both the salmon’s habitat and the Skeena Watershed in general and they have also brought communities, families and children all across the Northwest together in a positive and creative way.
In closing, We would like to send out 10,000 cheers to the 10,000 salmon project, the staff and volunteers of SWCC and the residents and tourists who shared in the vision of the importance to protect our fish, waters, watershed, wildlife and more.
Feel free to email the City of Prince Rupert a big thanks for hosting such a great event in their community…sometimes it’s nice for politicians to hear about the good things they do!
September 01 2011 » News Clippings » Fly Fusion Magazine
Sacred Headwaters - Protecting BC’s Most Endangered Watersheds
Read article on Fly Fusion’s Website
May 18 2011 » Media Releases
Up Your Watershed Comes to the Skeena
The communities of Hazelton, Kitimat, Prince Rupert and Smithers are hosting Up Your Watershed! concerts in celebration of watershed stewardship, salmon conservation and the fabulous, unique rivers of British Columbia. Singers/songwriters/producers Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright of the Artist Response Team (ART) will join with choirs of local students to perform songs that are the “leading edge of environmental folk pop to rock your world!”
The Up Your Watershed! project is based on the Voices of Nature Community Outreach Model pioneered by ART. Voices of Nature weaves together music, education and ecology to inspire positive action. Other projects include Salish Sea (ocean protection), Water For Life (water conservation), Winds of Change (climate change) and Cycle of Life (endangered species), through songs that speak right to the heart.
The educational foundation for Voices of Nature are School Music Programs where Skeena watershed students have been learning songs over the past couple of months. Teachers are provided with ART’s award-winning Educators’ Handbooks that provide activities linked to the song lyrics that fulfill Provincially prescribed learning outcomes in science, social studies, language arts and other subjects. The Up Your Watershed! concerts are a forum to celebrate students’ learning and leadership in protecting the Skeena’s beautiful and precious ecosystems. Students sing and deliver their own messages about positive actions. A special focus is being brought to the importance of the small things we all can do, such as recycling beverage containers—an action within the power of a child.
Even very young children can make an informed choice about whether to throw their drink boxes into the garbage can or the recycling bin…whether to put their apple cores into the trash or the compost bin. Students learn how recycling reduces their ecological footprint, which helps protect the habitats of endangered species they love…like salmon, bears, eagles and big trees! They latch onto facts like these: when you recycle one aluminum juice can, it saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours!
Music is the medium; songs are the message; the messengers are artists and children. The result is joyous and effective engagement and action.
The coalition of partners producing the Skeena Up Your Watershed! Tour are the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, Encorp Pacific and the Artist Response Team (ART).
Be sure come out with families and friends, to these concerts that put our communities young people at centre stage and will raise the roof! May 19 – Hazelton Community at Hazelton Secondary School May 24 – Kitimat at Mount Elizabeth Secondary School May 27 – Prince Rupert at Conrad Elementary School May 31 – Smithers at Della Herman Theatre
April 30 2011 » Media Releases
Rachelle van Zanten Releases Music Video about Sacred Headwaters
Slide guitarist and songwriter Rachelle van Zanten just released a music video of her hit song, My Country. This rock-and-roll anthem sheds a powerful and intimate light on an issue close to van Zanten’s home and heart: the future of BC’s Sacred Headwaters.
The Sacred Headwaters is the shared birthplace of BC’s Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers, and the site of a coalbed methane gas development proposed by Shell. The new video highlights the region’s wild landscape and social struggle that has put the Sacred Headwaters in the international media spotlight.
“From the moment I saw the photo of Shell employees facing off against the Tahltan elders, women and children trying to protect the Sacred Headwaters, I felt a burning desire to write about it,” said van Zanten, “This new video aims for the heart of the issue – the fact that there is much more at stake that just a special place.”
“Northern BC’s culture and communities are being put at risk by controversial industrial proposals like Shell’s coalbed methane despite unanimous regional opposition. There’s only so much these rivers will take before people are left without the abundant salmon and clean water that we depend on.”
Smithers-based videographer Taylor Fox spent eight years capturing footage of the Sacred Headwaters story alongside filmmaker Monty Bassett. In 2005, Fox and Bassett filmed the arrest of 15 Tahltan elders after they blockaded Fortune Minerals, a mining company planning to build an open-pit coalmine in the Sacred Headwaters.
“The archival footage of the arrests worked seamlessly with Rachelle’s lyrics and her live performance at the Sacred Headwaters Music Fest in Iskut,” said Fox. “It all came together in such a powerful way.”
“Much of our work focuses on celebrating life in the north with little mention of the underlying issues that threaten the unique social fabric that keeps people in the north connected,” Said Shannon McPhail, executive director of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. “This video scratches the surface to reveal the dirtier side of what happens when multinational companies meet community resistance in northwest BC.”
“The My Country music video is a tribute to all the people around the world standing up for their watersheds,” said van Zanten.
Born and raised in northwest B.C., van Zanten has performed with Feist, Blue Rodeo, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, and Sue Foley. Her latest tour schedule took her through Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, India and Nepal.
Email us your thoughts on this video – we’d love to hear your feedback
April 29 2011 » News Clippings » Muskeg News
Van Zanten Premiers Protest Video
By Gina Clark
For decades, musicians such as Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and John Lennon have sung about the important issues of the day, from war to poverty to racism. That tradition continues tonight when Rachelle van Zanten premieres her new music video “My Country” at the Tom Rooney Playhouse. She will also be performing an acoustic show. The event is hosted by the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.
Van Zanten was inspired to write the song when she saw photos of the Tahltan Elders standing up to Shell, trying to protect the Sacred Headwaters. She says she wanted to write a song that could resonate with the people up here.
“I know many Northwest people can identify with the line ‘my Harlem grows 500 miles from the city ‘neath the poplars and the evergreens,’” she says. “I wanted to convey pride, passion, and concern for this country while making the music and melody catchy.”
She said the music video is far from the usual Much Music kind of vibe, but she thinks viewers would like it. It features the Sacred Headwaters and the Tahltan People, as well as van Zanten herself. She said she loves it because it is real, it evokes emotion and it makes people think.
Shannon McPhail, Executive Director of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, says the song has become a rallying cry for communities faced with development, adding that the video speaks volumes about the way government awards oil and gas companies tenures and drilling rights.
McPhail said the Coalition wanted to do this tour for a couple of reasons. One is to get the music video out into the region since she says Shell is not going away.
The other reason, says McPhail, is to honour the people that stood up to protect the Sacred Headwaters from development plans. “When they were arrested, the Sacred Headwaters weren’t a household name, but because of their courage, we now know it’s one of the most spectacular and important places on the planet, and so does the rest of the globe,” says McPhail. She hopes that the audience will learn about the issue, be inspired by the music and turn that inspiration into action.
Joining van Zanten on tour are two youth bands from Hazelton, the Racket and Blind Vinyl. The band members range in age from 15-20 and van Zanten says they remind her of early Led Zeppelin.
McPhail says if they make money from the event, it will support the Coalition’s Youth on Water Program, but the goal is not to make money. They believe there are not enough cool events for local youth and they wanted to do something fun for the youth of the region, she says.
“It’s really easy to look at some other place or some other celebrity and wish that they lived here. We often fail to recognize the things we already have right here,” says McPhail. “We really wanted to give people something incredible from their region, something they can be proud of. Ali Howard’s swim of the Skeena in 2009 was the beginning of that. We have so many amazing locals doing some really amazing things and we want to showcase them to the world.”
The show begins at 7 p.m. April 29. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth and free for kids 12 and under.
March 31 2011 » Media Releases
Canada’s First Non-Profit Community Ski Co-op in Terrace
A newly minted non-profit community co-operative, My Mountain Co-op, is trying to buy Shames Mountain Ski Area near Terrace, BC for $2 Million. By April 30, 2011. Ambitious? Yes. But how co-ops strengthen and bind the social fabric of community are well-recognized mainstays of the co-operative movement.
In the case of Shames Mountain, the social benefits of maintaining Ski Area operations are plain to see. The ski hill is one of the advantages of the area. It helps recruit and retain local professionals including health care workers, environmental consultants, and management level employees. For an area that’s been hammered by the dying forest industry, Shames Mountain is integral to the community.
Prior to forming the Co-op, a group of like minded professionals and ski enthusiast got together and formed a non-profit society called Friends of Shames. That group did two years of legwork. They hired professional consultants to assess the lifts, buildings, water and sewer systems, environmental concerns, terrain and what have you. From that, a feasibility study was completed along with a 5 year business plan. The assessment determined that a non-profit community co-operative was the best business model.
Why try to raise the money in such a short timeframe? Darryl Tucker, a founding member of the Co-op replies, ‘The current owners have had enough. They’re former business owners in the area who have retired. Even though they know the value of the hill to the community and what a great loss it would be if it shut down, they can only put their retirement funds into the business for so long. It’s time for another group to step up. My Mountain Co-op hopes to do that.’
Memberships are well-priced at $299 for individuals and $599 for businesses, with bragging rights that you own a ski hill, part of the deal!
Join My Mountain Co-op at www.mymountaincoop.ca
Darryl Tucker 250-615-9509
February 18 2011 » SWCC in the NewsMedia Releases
Conservation groups comment on continuation of moratorium in the Klappan
The British Columbia government confirmed earlier this week that the moratorium established in 2008 on Royal Dutch Shell’s coalbed methane development project in northwestern British Columbia — in an area also known as the Sacred Headwaters — would continue through 2012.
“The BC government’s decision to continue the moratorium allows time for affected communities living within the three watersheds to craft a permanent solution to protect the Sacred Headwaters,” said Karen Tam Wu, Senior Conservation Campaigner for ForestEthics.
“The future for the Sacred Headwaters needs to consider cumulative impacts of all developments within the region, and determine what projects can go ahead that safeguard the watersheds’ unique values — clean water, wild salmon, and cultural heritage — while providing meaningful employment to communities. Coalbed methane does not fit with these values, “ said Shannon McPhail, Executive Director for Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.
“Salmon is the cornerstone upon which these communities’ culture and identity have evolved. We will not tolerate wild salmon being guinea pigs for Shell’s coalbed methane experiment,” said Karen Tam Wu, Senior Conservation Campaigner for ForestEthics.
“While Shell profits $2.5 million per minute, no amount of money will appease the communities of northwestern British Columbia to betray our wild salmon, “ said Ali Howard, representative for Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, who swam the entire Skeena River in 2009 to raise awareness.
February 08 2011 » SWCC in the News » Women & Environment
Skeena Sisters: Fighting to save a sacred river system
By Amanda Follett
Last summer, Ali Howard cannonballed into the Skeena River’s headwaters in northwestern British Columbia’s Spatsizi Plateau. She raised one arm, then the other, for the first strokes in her 610-kilometre swim to the Pacific Ocean. Inside, she felt immense anxiety — tumbling whitewater, whirlpools and tidal currents were only a few of the challenges ahead — and she silently said a prayer to “Mother Sister Skeena”.
Howard had no idea how apt the impromptu pseudonym, which stayed with her throughout her 28-day journey, would become. The river would beat her down — Howard compares it to feeling humbled by a sibling — while keeping her safe in its maternal grasp.
“We were so well protected and embraced by the river. It felt like we were being led down and mothered,” says the 34-year-old Smithers woman. “The Skeena absolutely brought out the best in me. I didn’t know my own potential. Discovering it was the greatest gift of the river.”
Howard is just one in a handful of women in northwestern B.C. that have fought to save a watershed currently threatened by resource development. The Spatsizi Plateau — dubbed the Sacred Headwaters for its conspicuous role as the birthplace for the Nass, Stikine, and Skeena rivers — is currently under the gaze of multi-national corporations like Royal Dutch Shell, which has fought to begin coalbed methane exploration in the area.
As the headwaters for three of the province’s top salmon-producing watersheds, the Spatsizi Plateau (known as Klappan to the local Tahltan First Nation) supports a partially-subsistence culture that has thrived in the area for countless millennia. In recent years, members of the Tahltan Nation built and occupied a roadblock shelter at the Klappan River Road turnoff. In 2006, the blockade resulted in several elders being arrested when Shell was granted a court injunction to proceed with its exploration.
Rhoda Quock lives in nearby Iskut, a mostly aboriginal community a few hours’ drive south of the Yukon border, tucked in the shadow of a mountain and home to only few hundred residents. A mother of four, Quock was an unlikely spokesperson in the battle against Shell’s interest in the Sacred Headwaters. Born and raised in Iskut, it was her passion for the land and her traditional culture that brought her to the frontlines of a fight with a multi-national corporation with billions to gain from the methane gas that lies below Klappan Mountain, where her family’s traditional hunting camp is located.
“Sure, we can say let’s go for the money now, but in 30 or 40 years, when it’s a boom and bust, what are the kids going to have?,” Quock said in an interview several years ago, just as the battle with the oil and gas magnate was igniting. Despite the argument that drilling and mining would bring much needed jobs to the area, Quock and her supporters, a local elders’ group known as the Klabona Keepers, desperately tried to communicate the importance of maintaining the area’s long-term sustainability. “It’s just not for sale,” she said about the Tahltan’s traditional hunting and fishing grounds in the Klappan.
Lillian Campbell, a Tahltan elder who lives 80 kilometres further north in Dease Lake, echoes Quock’s opposing voice. Her feisty demeanor earned her the nickname Tiger Lil and she was one of the elders arrested during the 2006 standoff with Shell. The charges against the grandmother, then in her late 60s, were later dismissed. The following year, she was honoured as a finalist in the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Awards.
A common passion brought together these strong Tahltan women with people like Shannon McPhail, who was born into a guide outfitting family on the Kispiox River, a tributary of the Skeena. McPhail, an outspoken force, has given birth to two young children during her years fighting development in the watershed. She created the non-governmental organization Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition in response to proposed threats to her family’s fishing business and the lifestyle she has always known.
“I was the daughter of a big game outfitter and a rodeo contractor and my husband worked in the oilsands. So I wasn’t the most likely candidate to get started on this,” she says, describing her organization’s beginnings as “a bunch of local yokels” who set out to fight development in their valley. “Rhoda Quock has four children and she’s running the Klabona Keepers, she’s dealing with the second largest company on the planet. She gave birth to twins during this whole battle. She gave birth right when this whole thing got started and she’s raising twins plus her two other kids.”
Another friend joked to McPhail, “You bring your kids everywhere. You even brought them to the revolution!”
It was McPhail, whose family owns the Bear Claw Lodge where Howard works as a chef, who convinced the former water polo player to take the plunge in swimming one of North America’s mightiest rivers. When Howard offhandedly suggested getting another distance swimmer to take on the task, McPhail’s response was simple: “You swim. You do it.” Howard agreed.
On Aug. 15, 2009, Howard became the first person to swim the Skeena River in its entirety when she pulled herself onto a wharf at Port Edward on B.C.’s northwest coast. Her efforts were recognized soon after by outdoor retail giant Patagonia, which created its first-ever annual Activist Award for the swimmer. Howard has also been nominated for National Geographic Adventure magazine’s Adventurer of the Year award.
She attributes her safety, a strong team dynamic, and the warm reception she received in numerous communities for allowing her to have the profound experience of living as one with the Skeena River for a month. “It really felt like we were operating in a state of grace. It allowed me to take everything in stride and experience everything with an open mind and, especially, an open heart,” she says. “When we were in the communities people spoke about it — that we were swimming with the ancestors.”
Just as the river brings together its tributaries, similarly these women’s common bond with the watershed brought them together in a fight against what many would feel typifies the masculine: industry, economy, and capitalism. With limited budgets, they stood up to an industry that seeks to pillage the landscape of its ability to yield for future generations and gave Premier Gordon Campbell’s pro-industry government pause in its crusade to sell the Sacred Headwaters.
In 2008, the province declared a two-year moratorium on coalbed methane development. The gas, which has never successfully been developed in British Columbia due to strong public opposition, is relatively new and its extraction methods untested. The moratorium expires this year. It remains to be seen if the Klappan — a magical place where the tracks of grizzly, caribou, moose, and wolf can all be seen within a few square feet — will be safe from the precious gas that lies beneath its surface.
Dissent within the Tahltan Nation — between those who welcome the jobs that come with resource development and those that want to protect traditional lifestyle —resulted in a change of government. In 2007, an Iskut Band Council election saw the council replaced by an all-female chief and council. The Tahltan Central Council, which represents all three bands within the nation, replaced chair Jerry Asp — a central and much vilified figure in the nation’s initial dealings with mining companies like BCMetals and Fortune Minerals — with Annita McPhee.
Today, at the Klappan River Road turnoff, a spray painted plywood sign hands askew, reads “Save our Sacred Headwaters” reminding passersby that the battle for these traditional hunting and fishing grounds has not yet been won. Families still gather at the roadblock shelter to cook moose meat over the campfire, play cards around a circular table, and talk about ongoing threats to their traditional lifestyle.
More than 100 kilometres upriver, in the wild and vast Spatsizi Plateau, the Skeena River begins its tireless journey to the Pacific Ocean. As it has since time immemorial, Mother Sister Skeena provides sustenance for the delicate and diverse ecosystem it supports, which further supports a lifestyle held close by those that love and revere its waters. Through the efforts of women that identify with its nurturing spirit, the Skeena — at least for the time being — will continue to support the lives and cultures that thrive in northwestern B.C.
Amanda Follett lives and writes in Smithers, B.C., a small northern community that never fails to amaze her with its colourful characters and cultures. Last fall, Amanda completed a Master of Communication specializing in intercultural communication through Royal Roads University in Victoria. Her thesis explored media coverage of the Sacred Headwaters issue.
February 07 2011 » SWCC in the NewsSkeena Swim
Times Colonist Reviews Skeena Swim Film
AWAKENING THE SKEENA
Where: Odeon/Empire Capitol 6
When: Feb. 6, 9: 30 p.m./Sat., Feb. 12, 4 p.m.
Full disclosure: I groaned when I first heard about this movie, figuring it would be just another eco-rant for outdoorsy types. My bad. As it turns out, the film’s account of Ali Howard’s remarkable one-month journey -becoming the first person to swim the 610 km length of B.C.‘s Skeena River from its sacred headwaters to the Pacific Ocean -is just one reason to see director Andrew Eddy’s gorgeously photographed tribute to grassroots activism as Howard and her supporters raise awareness of this pristine wilderness threatened by methane gas exploration. It’s as much a breathtaking travelogue and adventure film as an environmental documentary -one that engagingly makes you realize what a treasure this watershed is, and how important it is to protect it from industrial destruction before it’s too late.
February 01 2011 » News Clippings » Daily Utah Chronicle
National Geographic speaker to examine effects of drilling
~By Doug Jennings
Wade Davis, a Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist and Explorer-in-Residence at National Geographic, will be speaking at the City Library on Thursday on environmental preservation in British Columbia. Davis will focus specifically on plans threatening the Sacred Headwaters, an ecosystem that could potentially be threatened by mining and development.
“Royal Dutch Shell wants to drill more than 1,000 coal bed methane gas wells in the Sacred Headwaters, threatening communities, wildlife and wild salmon,” according to Sacred Headwaters’ website. “Concerned citizens from around the world are calling for steps to safeguard the Sacred Headwaters from Shell’s gas drilling.”
The site is located in an alpine basin that is the source of three different rivers and acts as an important cultural location for the indigenous Tahltan of the region. Canadian environmental think tank, the Pembina Institute, has expressed concerns over what kind of effects mining and development could have on untouched wilderness and Tahltan communities.
Davis is a visiting scholar for the environmental humanities program, said Heidi Camp, assistant dean of the College of Humanities. He visits campus regularly, meeting with graduate students in the department to discuss their research in addition to speaking in the community.
In 2010, he joined efforts with Bobby Kennedy, son of former presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, to create an IMAX documentary about changes in the Colorado River since its original exploration by 19th century explorer John Wesley Powell. The film was screened at the U, and included an appearance by Bobby Kennedy’s daughter.
February 3rd 7-9pm @ Salt Lake Main Library Auditorium, Salt Lake City Utah
Admission is FREE
January 24 2011 » Multimedia » Rabble.ca
PODCAST - Wade Davis on the Sacred Headwaters
Resource exploitation in the Sacred Headwaters of northern B.C.
Wade Davis on the imminent threat from resource exploitation in the Sacred Headwaters of northern British Columbia.
January 15 2011 » News Clippings
Wade Davis fights for Sacred Headwaters
Violating the Sacred
IN A RUGGED KNOT of mountains in the remote reaches of Northern British Columbia lies a stunningly beautiful valley known to the First Nations as the Sacred Headwaters. There, on the southern edge of the Spatsizi Wilderness, the Serengeti of Canada, are born in remarkably close proximity three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers: the Stikine, Skeena and the Nass. In a long day, perhaps two, it is possible to walk through open meadows, following the tracks of grizzly, caribou and wolf, and drink from the very sources of the rivers that inspired so many of the great cultures of the Pacific Northwest, the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en, the Carrier and Sekani, the Tsimshian, Nisga’a, Tahltan, Haisla and Tlingit.
The only other place I know where such a wonder of geography occurs is in Tibet, where from the base of Mount Kailash arise three of the great rivers of Asia, the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra, vital arteries that bring life to more than a billion people downstream. Revered by Hindu, Buddhist and Jain, Kailash is considered so sacred that no one is allowed to walk upon its slopes, let alone climb to its summit. The thought of violating its flanks with industrial development would represent for all peoples of Asia an act of desecration beyond all imaginings. Anyone who would even dare propose such a deed would face the most severe of sanctions, in both this world and the next.
In Canada, we treat the land quite differently. Against the wishes of all First Nations, the government of British Columbia has opened the Sacred Headwaters to industrial development. These are not trivial initiatives. Imperial Metals Corporation proposes an open pit copper and gold mine processing 27,000 tonnes of ore a day from the flank of Todagin Mountain, home to the largest population of Stone’s Sheep in the world. Its tailings pond, if constructed, would drain directly into the headwater lake chain of the Iskut River, the principal tributary of the Stikine. Over its 25-year lifetime, the mine would generate 166 million tonnes of toxic tailings and 279 million tonnes of waste rock, which would need to be treated for acid mine drainage for over 200 years.
Imperial Metals’ Red Chris project is but one of several industrial schemes proposed for the Sacred Headwaters. Fortune Minerals and West Hawk Coal would tear into the headwater valley itself, on a similar scale, with open-pit anthracite coal operations that would level entire mountains.
The largest project, proposed by Royal Dutch Shell, involves extracting coalbed methane from the same anthracite deposit, across an enormous tenure of close to 400,000 hectares. Should this project go ahead, it would require a network of several thousand wells, linked by roads and pipelines, laid upon the landscape of the entire Sacred Headwaters basin. Coalbed-methane recovery is by all accounts a highly invasive process. To free the methane from the anthracite, technicians must fracture the coal seams with massive injections of chemical agents under high pressure. Using as much as 1.3 million litres at a shot, the technique creates enormous volumes of highly toxic water. More than 900 different chemicals, many of them powerful carcinogens, are registered for use, but for proprietary reasons companies do not have to disclose the identity of the solutions employed at any given site.
Environmental concerns aside, think for a moment of what these proposals imply about our culture. I recall overhearing a conversation some seasons ago at a neighbouring lodge between an assistant deputy minister of mines and an engineer from the Red Chris project. They had just come down by helicopter from the site and they could not stop speaking about how beautiful it was, how many sheep they had seen, how extraordinary the vistas were from the height of the mountain. They both said that they had never seen such a beautiful place in their lives. As it turned out, it was the first time either of them had come so far north. They had never ventured beyond the Yellowhead Highway and here they were in a land they had never known, stunned by the beauty of a mountain it was their bureaucratic and corporate mission to destroy.
This was a powerful lesson for me, which I raised when I met some months later with Gordon Campbell, BC’s premier at the time. I was amazed to learn at that meeting that he too had never seen the Stikine. The Premier of British Columbia, the elected representative of all the people, had never visited a region encompassing fully a quarter of the province he presumed to govern. That a head of government would authorize a major industrial initiative of such consequence without having ever visited the region to be so irrevocably changed was rather startling.
I suspect that few of the principals of Imperial Metals ever saw this country until they began to set in motion their plans to transform it for their own personal gain. I understand this, as it is their business to do so. But I was astonished to learn from their proposal that their project is not economically viable unless Canadians subsidize it through the construction of power lines.
Moreover, the BC government’s preferred option, the $404-million-, 287-kilovolt Northwest Transmission Line, would access $130-million from Canada’s Green Infrastructure Fund (formerly the Canada EcoTrust for Clean Air and Climate Change). Meanwhile, a 2008 analysis by The Pembina Institute calculates that rather than lower greenhouse gas emissions, the Northwest Transmission Line would increase them by up to 1200 per cent. As currently proposed-, it would not even tie in nearby First Nations, allowing them to retire their diesel-burning generators.
That these tax dollars will be drawn from a fund conceived to improve the environment and then used to open up the Sacred Headwaters to industrial development represents a level of political cynicism that I have never before witnessed in the affairs of a major industrialized nation state.
We accept it as normal that people who have never been on the land, who have no history or connection to the country, may legally secure the right to come in and by the very nature of their enterprises leave in their wake a cultural and physical landscape utterly transformed and desecrated. What’s more, in granting such mining concessions, often initially for trivial sums to speculators from distant cities, companies cobbled together with less history than my dog, the government places no cultural or market value on the land itself. The cost of destroying a natural asset, or its inherent worth if left intact, has no metric in the economic calculations that support the industrialization of the wild. No company has to compensate the public for what it does to the commons, the forests, mountains and rivers, which by definition belong to everyone. It merely requires permission to proceed. This is very odd, if you think about it, and surely reflects a mindset that ought no longer to have a place in a world in which wildlands are becoming increasingly rare and valuable, even as we strive as a species to live in a sustainable manner on a planet we have come to recognize as being resilient but not inviolable.
The people of the Sacred Headwaters, the men and women of the Iskut First Nation who have rallied against these developments, have a very different way of thinking about the land. For them the Sacred Headwaters is a neighbourhood, at once their grocery store and sanctuary, their church and schoolyard, and their cemetery and recreational area. They believe that the people with greatest claim to ownership of the valley are the generations as yet unborn. The Sacred Headwaters will be their nursery. The Iskut elders, almost all of whom grew up on the land, have formally called for the end of all industrial activity in the valley and the creation of a Sacred Headwaters Tribal Heritage Area.
Beginning in the summer of 2005, Iskut men, women and children, together with Tahltan supporters from Telegraph Creek and beyond, have maintained in all seasons an educational camp at the head of the only road access to the Sacred Headwaters. Those who would violate the land they hold in trust have been denied entry. Those who accept and revere the land as it is have been welcomed. With everyone, they have shared their vision of a new era of sustainable stewardship both for their homeland and the entire northwest quadrant of the province. Meanwhile, the BC government has never agreed to consider the cumulative impacts of licensing as many as five new mines in the region, has failed to consider phasing in development over time and at no point has shown any interest in determining if these initiatives would pass a “positive contribution to sustainability” test, as it did for the Kemess North Project.
In the end, what is at stake is the future of one of the most extraordinary regions in all North America. The fate of the Sacred Headwaters transcends the interests of local residents, provincial agencies, mining companies and those few among the First Nations who favour industrial development at any cost. The voices of all Canadians deserve to be heard. Gordon Campbell, to his immense credit, attached his legacy to the fight against global warming, boldly calling for a 33-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. What better way to celebrate such a profound and courageous act of leadership by our former premier than to say that no amount of methane gas, no volume of gold or number of jobs can compensate for the sacrifice of a place that can be the Sacred Headwaters of all Canadians…
Photos for Wade Davis’s article were made possible by the International League of Conservation Photographers. Many thanks also to the contributing photographers. Buy this issue to fully enjoy their amazing photography in the context of Wade Davis’ warning call for three of Canada’s most threatened salmon rivers. Photographers: Graham Osborne | Paul Colangelo | Tom Peschak/saveourseas.com | Wade Davis.
View full article
January 14 2011 » Media Releases
Shell targeted by residents in new ad campaign
January 06 2011 » Home Feature
Volunteers Needed for Adventure…and Hard Work
We need help! LOTS of it! If you’re interested in participating on research expeditions, helping revive old trail systems, working on our website, or organizing fun events – WE NEED YOU!! Come hang out with the SWCC team and make a difference.
Here are some examples of the sorts of things we need help with:
1.) TECH STUFF: Helping us keep our website up to date (can do this from anywhere…just need a computer – we’d LOVE it if you were here with us to hang out though)
2.) RAFTING: World Rivers Day is September 25th, 2011. We need a bunch of people to jump in the raft with us in Telkwa. We have the raft, the life jackets and the helmets…we just need some people to float with us. Free BBQ afterwards.
3.) EVENT: Winter film nights will happen 1 night a week in October-March. We need people to help host these evenings with us.
4.) FUNDRAISING: Host an SWCC House Party to help us raise funds for our work and projects.
5.) EXPEDITION/FIELD WORK: Trail scouts needed to find, trim and map trail systems in the region
6.) EXPEDITION/FIELD WORK: Research assistants to come on 1 or more expeditions to act as research helpers. Lots of hiking, rafting and outdoor work. No experience necessary
7.) LABOUR: We’ve just expanded our office and need people to help us get it into ship shape. This includes building shelves, decorating, finding bookshelves and other furniture.
If you have an event or something that you think needs to happen in our communities – contact us, we’d like to help.
There’s LOTS more coming up – we’ve just got to get it all uploaded onto this website!! Whew – come on folks, drop us a line and we’ll hook you up with some SWCC style adventure!
January 04 2011 » News Clippings » Burnaby Newsletter
2011 Hopes & Plans: A closer look at our rivers with Mark Angelo
Mark Angelo is a longtime advocate of river conservation and the founder of both BC Rivers Day and World Rivers Day. He is chair of the Rivers Institute at BC Institute of Technology and has received numerous awards for his efforts, including the Order of British Columbia, the Order of Canada and the United Nations Stewardship Award. In addition to advocating, he has experienced rivers firsthand, paddling along hundreds of them around the world.
Q: Were there any surprises for you in river conservation in 2010? Please elaborate.
My biggest surprises this year were of a positive nature. For example, it was exciting to see such a massive global turnout this year for World Rivers Day, which involved well over 60 countries and millions of participants. This went far beyond our expectations and the event continues to grow. It’s also exciting to know that the origin, or genesis, of this international celebration can be found right here in B.C. In addition, another very pleasant surprise was the unexpectedly large return of sockeye salmon to the Fraser this year. This was the biggest return in a century and something indeed worth celebrating!
Q: What do you think is the most pressing issue in river conservation right now and why?
Across our province, I think there’s still much to be done in terms of ensuring our waterways are adequately cared for. We’ve made some progress on specific fronts and some local governments, such as Burnaby, have been quite progressive in protecting local streams. But if you scan the entire province, many of our rivers continue to face an array of threats associated with pollution, inappropriate development, urbanization, the excessive extraction of water and the building of dams.
Q: What are your plans to help address this, or other, issues in the new year?
Through the Rivers Institute at BCIT, we’re involved in an array of activities including applied research, various special projects relating to river conservation and restoration, and public awareness activities such as Rivers Day. We also try to mentor and support the next generation of river stewards; young people who will become our river champions of the future. My hope is that all of these activities, in conjunction with the good work that many other groups and individuals are undertaking, will help address at least some of these issues. In addition, we’re organizing a “Water for Life” benefit concert on April 7 at the Michael J Fox Theatre. This program will be a mix of inspiring stories, stunning images and great music, all focused on the importance of water and the need to be good water stewards, wherever we might live. The show will also be filmed as a major Global TV special with all proceeds benefitting worthy water-related initiatives, both locally and abroad. Tickets will go on sale Feb. 1 through Ticketmaster.
Q: What would be the best thing that could happen in river conservation in 2011?
I think we have the world’s finest river heritage right here in B.C. and yet our waterways continue to face an array of threats and pressures. A number of these were highlighted in the most recent “endangered rivers list”, which included problems around excessive water extraction on interior rivers such as the Kettle and Coldwater; concerns about proposed coalbed methane development in the “sacred headwaters” of the Nass, Stikine and Skeena Rivers (three of our finest salmon rivers); and uncontrolled development and a loss of habitat along the “Heart of the Fraser” between Hope and Mission, one of the most productive stretches of river anywhere in the world. In addition, there’s a myriad of other concerns ranging from the lack of an effective strategy and plan for independent power project development to the urgent need for a new Water Act that strikes a better balance between water extraction and the protection of aquatic ecosystems. So the best thing that could happen in the coming year would be to make progress on all of these fronts!
Q: The worst thing?
As a long time river advocate, I’ve seen my share of ups and downs over the years—and I’ve always believed that the worst thing that could happen to any sector in a given year is to make no progress, or even take a step backwards. I try to remain hopeful though that this won’t happen.
Q: What are your hopes for the community in the new year that have the best chances of actually happening?
I’m very upbeat about our own community and I see a very vibrant future, both in the short and long term. And looking at the many natural areas that have been set aside in communities such as Burnaby (totaling about 25 per cent of the land base), I believe we have a unique opportunity here to strike an appropriate balance between a sound economy, a good environment and an excellent quality of life.
Q: Give us your wildest and craziest prediction?
In response to a similar question last year, after a disastrous 2009 sockeye return, I said my “wildest and craziest prediction” would be to see a massive salmon return in the fall of 2010. In light of what happened, perhaps if I answer this again in the very same way, we’ll be fortunate once more in the fall of 2011.
See full article
January 01 2011 » Skeena Swim
Skeena Swim film available for purchase
Get your copy of Awakening the Skeena:
Wholesale Purchases (Retailers or Large quantities) – contact Filmmaker, Andrew Eddy
Our SWCC headquarters in Hazelton is now stocked with DVD’s for purchase as well. Call (250)842-2494 for more information or send us an email
The film is $20 (+$5 shipping and handling from the SWCC office, $7 for US orders)
Misty River Books
Mountain Eagle Bookstore
December 15 2010 » SWCC in the News » Interior News
Coalition Makes Top 10
By Shannon Hurst – Smithers Interior News
The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition was recognized for their hard work and dedication to addressing important environmental and social issues and for their leadership and vision when they were named as one of Tides Canada Top 10 recipients last week.
For the past seven years, Tides Canada has profiled 10 outstanding initiatives and organizations that inspire Canadians to make the world a better place.
SWCC Executive Director Shannon McPhail said they are committed to continuing to work towards a greater future for the area and the communities they love.
“We’re honoured to help represent the communities of Northwestern B.C. and this award is a reflection of all the organizations and communities that have dedicated their time and energy towards a better future, we are only as strong as the people that support us,” said SWCC Executive Director, Shannon McPhail,
“We love where we live and the people who live here and will never stop doing this work.”
Since it’s creation in 2004, the SWCC has been working towards “cultivating a sustainable future from a sustainable environment rooted in culture and a wild salmon ecosystem.” They have spearheaded numerous great projects and were instrumental in keeping Royal Dutch Shell from further exploratory drilling for Coalbed Methane in the precious Headwaters of the Skeena. They have also been the founders of fun, community oriented projects such as the 10,000 wild salmon installation that was a collaboration of thousands of salmon designed by thousands of children across Northwestern BC. The colourful salmon decorated the banks of the Skeena in Old Hazelton last summer and were a huge hit with both residents and tourists. Yet their most notable project that is still gaining momentum is the Awakening the Skeena swim by Ali Howard that is creating waves across North America to this day. There are many other great initiatives that they are working on or have been a part of but it was the following that earned them the honour of the Tides Canada Top 10: Working effectively as a coalition of diverse communities united in their pursuit of environmental and cultural sustainability for British Columbia’s Skeena Watershed and Sacred Headwaters.
The unique school programs and a summer conservation camp for the region’s children and youth that teach about fish and wildlife, First Nations culture and the importance of the Skeena watershed.
For getting people focused on solutions over problems and working closely with First Nations to
teach the cultural components of their projects and programs.
As well as the major project, Awakening the Skeena, a film which follows Ali Howard on her historic swim of the 610-kilometre Skeena River, uniting communities with each other and with their shared watershed, and raising awareness of the threats to the Skeena’s health; it has premiered in film festivals across North America.
Other winners this year came from the Yukon, the Arctic, Nova Scotia and Alberta and Ontario. There focus was on things such as food, forests, water and watersheds, climate and energy, urban sustainability and indigenous cultures. All of which President and CEO of Tides Canada, Ross McMillan said all deserved recognition.
“It’s remarkable to see such diverse groups coming together to find solutions that work for people and the planet,” McMillan said. “The leaders behind these initiatives are having incredible impact as they promote new ways to solve some of our most pressing social and environmental problems. They all deserve recognition and sustained support for their great work.”
To learn more about the Tides Canada top 10, visit their website at http://www.tidescanada.org/top10.
December 08 2010 » SWCC in the News
SWCC Honoured as Top 10 Organization in Canada
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC) is pleased to announce that it has been named one of Tides Canada’s Top 10 recipients today.
The Tides Canada Top 10 initiatives that have demonstrated exceptional leadership, vision and real-world impact in addressing important environmental and social problems.
Since 2003, Tides Canada has profiled 10 outstanding initiatives and organizations that inspire people throughout Canada to think in new ways and to make the world a better place.
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition was chosen for:
1.) Working effectively as a coalition of diverse communities united in their pursuit of environmental and cultural sustainability for British Columbia’s Skeena Watershed and Sacred Headwaters.
2.) Unique school programs and a summer conservation camp for the region’s children and youth that teach about fish and wildlife, First Nations culture and the importance of the Skeena watershed.
3.) Getting people focused on solutions over problems and working with First Nations to teach the cultural components of their projects and programs.
4.) Awakening the Skeena, a film which follows Ali Howard on her historic swim of the 610-kilometre Skeena River, uniting communities with each other and with their shared watershed, and raising awareness of the threats to the Skeena’s health; it has premiered in film festivals across North America.
“We’re honoured to help represent the communities of Northwestern BC and this award is a reflection of all the organizations and communities that have dedicated their time & energy towards a better future, we are only as strong as the people that support us,” says SWCC Executive Director, Shannon McPhail, “We love where we live and the people who live here and will never stop doing this work.”
This year’s Top 10 includes initiatives from the Yukon, northern British Columbia, the Canadian Arctic, Nova Scotia, Alberta and Ontario. They focus on food, forests, water and watersheds, climate and energy, urban sustainability and indigenous cultures. The recipients include coalitions of diverse parties working past traditional differences in pursuit of shared goals.“It’s remarkable to see such diverse groups coming together to find solutions that work for people and the planet. The leaders behind these initiatives are having incredible impact as they promote new ways to solve some of our most pressing social and environmental problems. They all deserve recognition and sustained support for their great work,” said Ross McMillan, President and CEO of Tides Canada. Visit http://www.tidescanada.org/top10 to learn more about the Top 10, view videos and images of their work and check out past winners.
About Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition – SWCC works towards cultivating a sustainable future from a sustainable environment rooted in culture and a wild salmon ecosystem. SWCC was founded is 2004 by a diverse group of people that live and work within the watershed.
About Tides Canada – Tides Canada provides uncommon solutions for the common good by leading and supporting actions that foster a healthy environment and just society. Tides Canada provides philanthropic, financial and project management services to change makers — philanthropists, businesses, activists and civil organizations, and works to increase the impact of Canada’s forward-thinking charities and nonprofits.
November 19 2010 » News Clippings » Vancouver Observer
Gasland Brings Sickening Reality of Fracking Home
Water’s not supposed to bubble like that unless it’s Perrier,” exclaimed the detective, as he examined tap water from a cattle ranch adjacent to natural gas drilling wells. The detective proceeded to light water streaming from the tap on fire.
“Methane…benzene…all these chemicals are implicated in cardiovascular and respiratory disorder, endocrine disruption…nerve system destruction” a doctor explained to a lab technician, who presented the doctor with water sample results from the ranch.
These are the scenes from a recent episode of CSI, but sadly, it is not just television drama. These are the effects Albertans and Americans are living with as a result of oil and gas companies employing a technique called hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas. The stories of these residents have been featured in CBC’s Passionate Eye and Gasland, a Sundance Festival Special Jury Award winner.
Here in British Columbia, where the “unconventional gas” industry is burgeoning, we have much to learn from the experiences of our neighbours.
And Ground Water report writes:
It’s become a cliché that water is the new oil. Experts predict that clean, fresh water will, by the end of the century, be as precious and hard to find as black gold is now. Business magazines and websites are already instructing investors on how to profit from the coming market in water. (See http://seekingalpha.com/article/117760-water-the-new-oil).
But in the movie, Gasland, directed by Josh Fox, homeowners light their drinking water with a match and watch it burst into flames. Is this the future?
Gasland, the winner of Special Jury Prize – Best US Documentary Feature – Sundance 2010, warns that it will be, unless policy makers stop natural gas companies from developing more and more reserves—-in backyards of ordinary people all over the world. Hydraulic fracturing is spreading across the world, Fox tells viewers. And before you know it, your drinking water may be combustible, too.
It is happening all across America and now in Europe and Africa as well. Rural landowners wake up one day to find a lucrative offer from a multinational energy conglomerate wanting to lease their property. The reason? In America, the company hopes to tap into a huge natural gas reservoir dubbed the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. Halliburton developed a way to get the gas out of the ground—a hydraulic drilling process called fracking—and suddenly America finds itself on the precipice of becoming an energy superpower.
But what comes out of the ground with that natural gas? How does it affect our air and drinking water? GASLAND is a powerful personal documentary that confronts these questions with spirit, strength, and a sense of humor. When filmmaker Josh Fox receives his cash offer in the mail, he travels across 32 states to meet other rural residents on the front lines of fracking. He discovers toxic streams, ruined aquifers, dying livestock, brutal illnesses, and kitchen sinks that burst into flame. He learns that all water is connected and perhaps some things are more valuable than money.
All about fracking
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking (also fraccing), is a method used by oil and gas companies to extract elusive sources of gas. Millions of gallons of water are mixed with sand and chemicals, then injected underground at high pressure in order to fracture the rock, allowing natural gas to flow.
Increased demand for fossil fuels and technological advancements, such as fracking, have made previously more difficult and expensive sources of gas – the “unconventional” kind – more profitable to extract. Coalbed methane (CBM), tight, and shale gas are among the types of unconventional gas.
The make up of fracking fluid is a proprietary mix that is as tight-lipped a secret as Colonel Saunders’ secret spice mix. But there are more than 11 secret herbs and spices, more like hundreds of toxic and/or cancer-causing chemicals.
Toluene, naphthalene, ethylene glycol, used in paint thinners, mothballs, and antifreeze, respectively, are some of the chemicals on the ingredient list. While some of the concoction can be recovered, much of it remains underground, and where it flows is unpredictable.
Effects of fracking
Somehow methane and other chemicals are finding their way into residents’ water supply. Water wells and homes are exploding. Animals, fish, and people are getting sick. A chemist in Louisiana, recounts in Gasland, the experiences of athletes who were suffering from arsenic poisoning as a result of drinking large quantities of contaminated water. Their doctors asked “Do you think your spouse is poisoning you?”
Testing of drinking water that has reportedly become murky and flammable after gas drilling began in the vicinity of homes provides little reassurance for residents. Companies like Encana, who has operations on both sides of the border, conclude that the methane is “naturally” occurring. (Plutonium and mercury are also “naturally” occurring.) Other companies tell residents there is “nothing wrong with the water that can be a result of oil and gas production” in the area.
Because homeowners do not often think to test water quality before drilling occurs nearby, it is difficult to make the link. It is even more difficult to point a direct finger at industry when companies are not required to disclose the chemical contents of the fracking fluids.
Companies will not admit culpability. They will, however, happily truck in water to families who live in areas adjacent to drilling as a neighbourly gesture. In return, some residents are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Why fracking is allowed
In the US, a loophole recommended by former vice president Dick Cheney, exempts fracking from the Safe Water Drinking Act. This loophole has become known as the Haliburton Loophole, because Haliburton is one of the main companies that produces hydraulic fracturing chemicals. (Recall that Cheney was former CEO of Haliburton and holds shares worth more than $12 million.)
In B.C., the Water Act, which prohibits dumping contaminants or substances that would adversely affect groundwater quality, does not apply to any wells drilled for oil and gas. Under the Oil and Gas Activities Act, companies need to obtain permits to frack, but they are not required to disclose the secret ingredient list. The Oil and Gas Commission, the agency that oversees oil and gas industry in British Columbia, has said that future amendments to the Oil and Gas Activities Act may require companies to list fracking fluids.
Fracking in British Columbia
Companies like Shell are actively developing unconventional gas sources in the northeast corners of British Columbia. Shell also has its sights set on drilling for coalbed methane in the headwaters of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine Rivers in NW British Columbia. This area, known also as the Sacred Headwaters, is a pristine complex of alpine lakes and streams, home to bears, moose, goats, sheep, and salmon, and is culturally significant for many First Nations. Shell’s proposal earned the Sacred Headwaters top honours on the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia’s Most Endangered Rivers list this year.
Since fracking has leaped from documentary world to prime time television, perhaps this signifies the beginning of a much needed public dialogue. Unconventional gas development in British Columbia is on a major growth trajectory, and now is the time to discuss how our water resources are managed.
Gasland will be showing Sunday, November 21st, 3.45 at the VanCity Theatre.
November 03 2010 » News Clippings » Telluride Mountainfilm Festival
Mountainfilm Announces Grant Winners
Inaugural Mountainfilm Commitment Program Provides $25,000
Telluride, Colorado (November 2, 2010) – Five grantees, from a field of 75 filmmakers, photographers and adventurers, will each receive $5,000 and an Apple laptop computer to help with new projects that key into Mountainfilm’s mission of educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter. The grants will be the first made under the new Mountainfilm Commitment initiative designed to help ensure that important stories are told – and heard.
“The projects we’re supporting with grants cover very diverse ground but we think each are really worthy, compelling and vital,” said Mountainfilm Executive Director Peter Kenworthy. “We were at real pains to narrow the field because we were presented with such outstanding applications. We think our top five choices reflect the kind of breadth, depth and excellence that Mountainfilm strives for in its programming. We couldn’t be more pleased or excited to be partnering with them.”
Kenworthy said the granting initiative was inspired by Mountainfilm Festival Director David Holbrooke’s desire to both give back to the community of filmmakers, artists, and explorers that so generously supports Mountainfilm and to help broaden the impact of new critical stories. “David cooked up the idea and, with the help of staff and our board of directors, we were able to give it structure and make it a reality,” he said. “It’s a really exciting initiative for an organization like ours and we feel very pleased and privileged to have successfully launched it and look forward to continuing it.”
The five winning grantees, and their projects, are:
Isaac Brown, director/producer, Terra Blight, a documentary about America’s consumption of computers and the hazardous waste we create in pursuit of the latest technology. The film examines the unseen worlds of one of the most ubiquitous toxic wastes on our planet. Despite the fact that the United States produces the most e-waste of any nation, it currently is the only industrialized country that does not regulate the exportation of that waste. Terra Blight will ensure you never look at your old computer the same way again. Brown previously made Gimme Green, which played at Mountainfilm 2007.
Richard Linnett, director/producer, Paradox Valley U.S.A., a documentary about how a potential global nuclear renaissance could start in Paradox, Colorado – not far from Telluride – because of a proposed new uranium mill that would be the first in this country since the Cold War. The mill’s outspoken supporters are people from nearby uranium mining towns who need jobs. Opposition comes from a loose alliance of activists who argue that toxic waste, dust and radioactivity will foul the food chain and water supply, creating personal health hazards while destroying property values. Meanwhile, there has been a worldwide resurgence of support for nuclear power and leading environmentalists are reversing their long held anti-nuclear positions – a core paradox facing opponents of the mill, and a key conflict driving the story. Linnett has been filming in and around Telluride for more than a year.
Lucian and Natasa Muntean, directors/producers, Mbambu and the Mountains of the Moon, a documentary about a sixteen-year old girl, Mbambu, from a small village at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda, who wants to be the first in her family to complete secondary school. Because her family is poor, Mbambu earns her high school tuition by guiding foreign trekkers. Her mentor in this work is an ex-poacher who inspires Mbambu to educate Ugandans about the dangers and drawbacks of poaching. Mbambu, in turn, enlists her amateur drama group to take on the cause. Their previous film, Journey of the Red Fridge played at Mountainfilm 2009.
Katie Mustard, director/producer, Soul of the Sea, a documentary that follows the unrelenting desire of one woman – Hayley Shephard – to solo kayak the most challenging waters on the planet for the sake of saving an animal on the brink of extinction – the world’s largest flying bird, the Albatross. Undeterred by hurricane-force winds and a wildly treacherous sea, wilderness guide and expedition leader Shephard set out in January 2010, set out to make the first ever solo kayak around South Georgia Island. However like Shephard’s hero, Sir Ernest Shackleton – the Antarctic explorer who turned disaster into the most famous lesson in survival, her expedition did not go as planned.
Paul Colangelo, photographer, Sacred Headwaters, Sacred Journey, a photographic exposition of the shared birthplace of three of British Columbia’s great salmon-bearing rivers, the Stikine, Skeena and Nass, and one of the largest predator-prey ecosystems in North America, now threatened by resource development. Known as the “Serengeti of the North”, it supports large populations of grizzlies, wolves, woodland caribou, moose, mountain goats and stone sheep. This land has come under threat of numerous resource developments including a proposed coalbed methane development that would fracture nearly a million acres of wildlife habitat with wells, pipelines and roads, and a proposed open-pit gold and copper mine that would destroy the most important habitat for stone sheep in the world. There will be a gallery exhibit at Mountainfilm 2011 and longtime friend of the festival Wade
Davis, who is involved in this project will speak about it at the Awareness into Action Symposium.
Holbrooke said he was thrilled that so many worthwhile applications were submitted and gratified that, within just a year, the new program had gone from conception to funding. The hardest part by far, he said, was choosing the grantees. “It was ridiculously difficult – much harder than selecting films for the festival,” he said. “Most of the projects submitted were worth funding.” He also lamented that no grants were being made in the first year to local
Telluride-area applicants and said he looks forward to addressing that next year. “There were a couple of local projects at the conceptual stage that have enormous potential,” he said. “We hope to see those back next year for latter-stage production or post-production funding. There are so many talented local filmmakers and photographers, artists and adventurers and this program was created – partly – with them in mind and I very much hope that next year, we are able to support a project that is homegrown in Telluride.”
See full article
October 26 2010 » SWCC in the NewsNews Clippings » The Cleanest Line
Conservation Photographers Focus on Canada’s Sacred Headwaters
We first learned about the work of the International League of Conservation Photographers through their compelling work on behalf of threatened regions in Patagonia. This summer, they’ve been lending their honed expertise and incomparable imagery to the fight for some of Western Canada’s most treasured landscapes. We’re pleased to share this story, from National Geographic Explorer and award-winning author, photographer and researcher, Wade Davis, on behalf of Canada’s Sacred Headwaters region.
In a rugged knot of mountains, in the remote reaches of northern British Columbia, lies a stunningly beautiful valley known to the first nations as the Sacred Headwaters. There, on the southern edge of the Spatsizi Wilderness – the Serengeti of Canada – are born in remarkably close proximity three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers: the Stikine, Skeena and Nass.
[A calm lake in the Sacred Headwaters. Photo: Claudio Contreras, courtesy of iLCP]
In a long day, perhaps two, it is possible to walk through open meadows, following the trodden tracks of grizzly, caribou and wolf, and drink from the very sources of the three rivers that inspired so many of the great cultures of the Pacific Northwest: the Gitxsan and Wet’sutwet’en, the Carrier and Sekani, the Tsimshian, Nisga’a, Tahltan, Haisla and Tlinglit. Keep on for another three days, and you’ll reach the origins of the Finlay, headwaters of the Mackenzie, Canada’s greatest river of all.
The only other place I know where such a wonder of geography occurs is in Tibet, where from the base of Mount Kailas arise three of the great rivers of Asia – the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra – vital arteries that bring life to more than a billion people downstream. Revered by Hindu, Buddhist and Jain, Kailas is considered so sacred that no one is allowed to walk on its slopes, let alone climb to its summit. The thought of violating its flanks with industrial development would represent for all peoples of Asia an act of desecration beyond all imagining. Anyone who would even dare propose such a deed would face the most severe of sanctions, in both this world and the next.
In Canada, we treat the land quite differently. Against the wishes of all first nations, the B.C. government has opened the Sacred Headwaters to industrial development. The most ominous project is a proposal by Royal Dutch Shell to extract coal-bed methane gas from the area’s anthracite deposit, across an enormous tenure of close to a million acres. Should this project go ahead, it would imply a network of several thousand wells, linked by roads and pipelines, laid on the landscape of the entire Sacred Headwaters basin.
Coal-bed methane recovery is, by all accounts, a highly invasive process. To free the methane from the anthracite, technicians must fracture the coal seams with massive injections of chemical agents under high pressure – as much as 350,000 gallons at a shot – a technique that, in some deposits, liberates enormous volumes of highly toxic water. More than 900 chemicals, many of them powerful carcinogens, are registered for use, but for proprietary reasons, companies do not have to disclose the identity of the solutions employed at any given site.
Environmental concerns aside, think for a moment of what such proposals imply about our culture. We accept it as normal that people who have never been on the land, who have no history or connection to the country, may legally secure the right to come in and, by the very nature of their enterprises, leave in their wake a cultural and physical landscape utterly transformed and desecrated. What’s more, in granting such mining concessions, often initially for trivial sums to speculators from distant cities, companies cobbled together with less history than my dog, the government places no cultural or market value on the land itself.
The cost of destroying a natural asset, or its inherent worth if left intact, has no metric in the economic calculations that support the industrialization of the wild. No company has to compensate the public for what it does to the commons, the forests, mountains and rivers, which, by definition, belong to everyone. It merely requires permission to proceed. This is very odd, if you think about it, and surely reflects a mindset that ought no longer to have a place in a world in which wild lands are becoming increasingly rare and valuable.
The people of the Sacred Headwaters, the men and women of the Iskut First Nation who have rallied against these developments, have a very different way of thinking about the land. For them, the Sacred Headwaters is a neighbourhood, at once their grocery store and sanctuary, their church and schoolyard, their cemetery and country club. They believe that the people with the greatest claim to ownership of the valley are the generations as yet unborn. The Sacred Headwaters will be their nursery. The Iskut elders, almost all of whom grew up on the land, have formally called for the end of all industrial activity in the valley and the creation of a Sacred Headwaters Tribal Heritage Area.
Since the summer of 2005, Iskut men, women and children, together with Tahltan supporters from Telegraph Creek and beyond, have maintained an educational camp at the head of the only road access to the Sacred Headwaters. Those who would violate the land they hold in trust have been denied entry. Those who accept and revere the land as it is have been welcomed. With everyone, they have shared their vision of a new era of sustainable stewardship both for their homeland and the entire northwest quadrant of the province. After more than two years on the line, they are not about to give up.
In the end, what is at stake is the future of one of the most extraordinary regions in North America. The fate of the Sacred Headwaters transcends the interests of local residents, provincial agencies, mining companies and those few among the first nations who favour industrial development at any cost. The voices of all Canadians deserve to be heard. B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, to his immense credit, has attached his legacy to the fight against global warming, boldly calling for a 33-per-cent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020. What better way to celebrate such a courageous act of leadership than to say to Royal Dutch Shell that no amount of methane gas can compensate for the sacrifice of a place that can be the Sacred Headwaters of all Canadians.
From iLCP’s RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition) Director, Trevor Frost:
The international League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), with support from Patagonia, joined this campaign by launching a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE) after receiving an invitation from Wade Davis, an iLCP Fellow, and the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC) (another Patagonia Grantee) to document the region for a photo book that will be published Fall 2011. The photographers on the RAVE included Wade Davis, Paul Colangelo, Carr Clifton, Joe Riis, and Claudio Contreras. A campaign will be be built in coordination with SWCC around the launch of the book that will include a traveling exhibit and lecture/slideshows by Wade and others. Now is the critical time to act: the moratorium on mining in the Sacred Headwaters will cease in 2012. Other partners on the RAVE included the Bateman Centre at Royal Roads, long time Patagonia ally Bruce Hill at the Headwaters Initiative, the Swift Foundation, and the Wilburforce Foundation. Take action here: http://skeenawatershed.com/projects/detail/sacred_headwaters_campaign/
or upload a personal video message of why you support the fight for the Sacred Headwaters to iLCP’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/conservationphotography?
October 25 2010 » News Clippings » West Coast Environmental Law
Will BC’s cabinet shuffle unleash Mr. Hyde on the environment?
Most governments have at least two distinct personalities when it comes to environmental protection. In the spirit of Hallowe’en this Sunday, let’s call them Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll recognizes the need to protect our environment, while building a sustainable economy, even if that means saying “no” sometimes to economically lucrative industrial operations. Dr. Hyde is the part of government that starts salivating at the thought of all the lovely tax dollars and short-term economic growth flowing in. At different points in time one or the other personality may appear more dominant.
This morning (October 25th) Premier Campbell restructured his cabinet. One of the most significant features of the new Cabinet is the creation of a new Ministry, the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations (MNRO), to be headed by Minister Steve Thomson. This new Ministry is given responsibility for a wide range of natural resource approvals, including (see the government release for the full list) approvals related to:* Crown land allocation and authorizations; * Forests and range authorizations * Independent power production * Mines and minerals titles, permitting and inspections; * Water use planning and authorizations * Fish, wildlife and habitat management * Pests, disease, invasive plants and species * Archaeology and Heritage Conservation Act permitting
Essentially this new Ministry is a “one stop shop” that industry can come to for most, if not all, approvals it might need from the BC government. This is being done to facilitate industry access to government approvals.
The MNRO has all the powers that the government’s Mr. Hyde persona would love to have, without much in the way of the responsibility to plan for environmental protection.
And the question is: how will the Ministries responsible for the Dr. Jekyll persona – that is for environmental planning and protecting crown land, forests, fish, the environment and heritage conservation – be able to exercise control over the Mr. Hyde persona? How will the left hand talk to the right hand?
A Blogger, BC Iconoclast, has already posted his thoughts on the new Ministry, and he seems to miss this fundamental point, writing:What we have is a ministry that will be taking on a lot of planning roles from a host of different ministries.
With respect to BC Iconoclast, there is nothing in the reshuffle to indicate that the new Ministry is responsible for planning akin to the former Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management (it’s named the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations, not Management).
If we need to look to an historic example of this type of one-window approach to approvals, the example would be Land and Water BC – a Crown Corporation which, in the early 2000s, aggressively authorized commercial use of public lands, sold public properties and issued water permits with little public accountability in a misguided effort to promote economic development – a clear illustration of what happens when the Mr. Hyde personality is allowed to run things. Land and Water BC was eventually dropped, in part due to public protest about the controversial liquidation of public lands.
The Ministry of Natural Resource Operations is also responsible for the Oil and Gas Commission, another entity intended to provide a one-window approach to environmental approvals. West Coast has written recently on that agency’s apparent inability to properly regulate water use by the Oil and Gas industry.
If the new MNRO wants to have environmental credentials, it will need to demonstrate in short order that it is not just an approval-granting machine, a personification of Mr. Hyde, but that it accepts its marching orders from the Ministries that have a more Dr. Jekyll-like mandate, and that environmental concerns are appropriately and responsibly addressed in its deliberations. [Update – 26 October 2010 – More details about the shuffle are emerging]
What does it mean for the budget?
If the separation of environmental power from environmental responsibility is not alarming enough, it’s worth considering what this means for funding for environmental policy-making and planning in next year’s budget.
Until now when a government cut funding to the Ministries of Environment, Forests or Tourism, industry also suffered – through longer wait-times to get approvals for water use, logging or interference with heritage sites. This created an incentive, even from a Mr. Hyde point of view, to ensure at least a minimum level of funding to these Ministries.
That incentive is now gone, since these approvals will now be routed through the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations, which, one presumes, will be well funded.
By Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer
P.S. As an aside, we were surprised to note that the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations is responsible for “Aquaculture licensing and regulation.” For the most part this industry is now federally regulated as a result of Alexandra Morton’s court case on the subject, and the provincial government has indicated that it accepts that ruling.
October 14 2010 » Home Feature
Swim Team on Tour with “Awakening the Skeena” & BIG Auctions!
Get your bid in on the” guided fishing”:http://www.skeenawatershed.com/auction and” heliski”:http://skeenaheliskiing.com/ trips – Auction closes January 15th.Thanks to Islas Secas in Panama, and the Skeena Heliskiing for donating these epic adventures. Check it out.
Get your copy of Awakening the Skeena:
Wholesale Purchases (Retailers or Large quantities) – contact Filmmaker, Andrew Eddy
Our SWCC headquarters in Hazelton is now stocked with DVD’s for purchase as well. Just in time for Christmas!! Call (250)842-2494 for more information or email us
The film is $20 (+$5 shipping and handling from the SWCC office)
See the film trailer
October 14 2010 » News Clippings » Globe and Mail
Canada not ready for Shale Gas Boom
Canada’s fledgling shale gas industry faces a growing clamour for tighter regulations and greater protection of local water sources amid fears that aggressive drilling techniques carry a heavy environmental cost.
The enormous potential of shale gas resources is considered a “game changer” in the North American energy landscape, promising large supplies of relatively low-cost fuel for decades. But the industry is encountering stiff opposition in Quebec, New York state and other jurisdictions where residents and environmentalists worry that drilling techniques using chemical-laced water, a process known as fracking, pose a threat to drinking water and wildlife.
More related to this story
Will Canada’s Water be Protected in the Rush to Develop Shale Gas?
As Quebec holds raucous and divisive hearings over the future of its promising shale industry, a new study to be published Thursday by the University of Toronto argues that Canadian regulators are wholly unprepared for the shale gas boom that is sweeping North America.
“To date, Canada has not developed adequate regulations or public policy to address the scale or cumulative impact of hydraulic fracking on water resources,” says the report by Ben Parfitt, a Victoria-based researcher whose work was commissioned by the water program at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.
Mr. Parfitt said the federal government is virtually absent from the discussion, while provinces issue oil companies with individual water-use permits despite having little understanding of the cumulative impacts of increasing drilling activity, no public reporting on the chemicals or amount of industrial water withdrawals and no systematic mapping of the country’s aquifers.
Without a more robust regulatory approach, “rapid shale gas development could potentially threaten important water resources, if not fracture the country’s water security,” Mr. Parfitt wrote in the study, which will be formally released Thursday at a day-long Munk School conference.
The international oil industry is investing heavily in North America shale plays. Just last weekend, Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM-T18.16-0.25-1.36%) announced it is teaming up with Norway’s Statoil ASA for a $1.3-billion (U.S.) acquisition of properties in Texas’ Eagle Ford shale. As well, China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) said it is investing $1-billion for a one-third stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s Eagle Ford play.
In Canada, companies like Talisman, Encana Corp., (ECA-T30.73-0.15-0.49%) and U.S-based Apache Corp. are planning massive investment in northeastern B.C. and western Alberta, notably in the prolific Horn River and Montney plays. Companies are also eager to develop Quebec’s Utica shale zone and in New Brunswick. As well, the industry is applying the drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques to other oil and unconventional gas fields in Alberta and Saskatchewan – using high-pressured, chemically-treated water to break open tight formations and release the trapped hydrocarbons.
The industry acknowledges that massive expansion of shale development through hydraulic fracturing could threaten water supplies if not properly done, but insist that provincial regulators and the companies themselves are prepared to meet the challenge through water recycling, and tapping salt-water aquifers.
In northeastern B.C., “there is a realization the full-blown development in some of these shale regions is going to tax the water availability if we go forward with a traditional, business-as-usual approach to how water is used,” said Kevin Heffernan, vice-president of Calgary-based Canadian Society for Unconventional Gas, a industry-backed association.
“And certainly the industry is very, very aware that shale-gas development is water intensive and is working hard to find approaches that are going to make sense for the long term,” Mr. Heffernan said in an interview.
But Mr. Parfitt suggests the industry – with the blessing of the B.C. regulator – is forging ahead with development plans in British Columbia and elsewhere while key questions remain unanswered.
While the industry claims there is no evidence that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated aquifers, the researcher cited a number of cases in the United States where ground water was tainted during nearby drilling activity. And there is no requirement in Canada for companies to disclose what chemicals they use in fracturing – as there is in several states.
As well, there has been no assessment in B.C. – or other provinces – of how the industry will be able to dispose of massive amounts of waste water that is produced during the drilling, a key concern regarding possible surface water contamination.
“The pace of the shale gas revolution demands greater scrutiny before more fracture lines appear across the country,” he said.
September 28 2010 » News Clippings » Elizabeth May's Blog
Wade Davis supports Greens; Greens support his effort to protect Sacred Headwaters
~ Elizabeth May See online version
On Saturday night in Vancouver, the Green Party received an overwhelming and ringing endorsement from anthropologist Wade Davis. This year, Wade Davis delivered the prestigious Massey lectures. Wade’s work for decades has focused on the threats to endangered peoples — the indigenous peoples of Sarawak and the Amazon. On Saturday, he shared, in an impassioned talk, how he now feels he is one of those endangered peoples. Imperial Metals is planning a huge copper and gold mine in his beloved Stikine Valley, right near his home.
I have blogged before about the Red Chris mine, but for its impact on environmental law — not for the impact on the land itself. Mining Watch Canada, represented by Eco-justice, took the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. A giant mine like Red Chris should have had a comprehensive study review, but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans ducked the review by describing the project as only the infrastructure, not the mine itself. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Harper government could not do what they did — examine the impact of the mine by narrowing the impacts and ignoring the mine. Even though the court ruled the government had broken the law, the Supreme Court said that it would allow the Red Chris mine to go ahead and lectured the government not to do it again. So the Harper government decided to change the environmental assessment law so it can, in future, describe a project any way it wants. The Harper government broke the law and then re-wrote it so it can do so again and again. In a real sense, they have broken the law permanently by changing it such that it will never again require full assessments.
Meanwhile, what of the Red Chris mine? The local First Nation, the Tahltan, describe the area where the mine is planned as the “Sacred Headwaters” – the birthplace of three major salmon-bearing rivers of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena. Streams will be dammed and the water bodies used as toxic dumps. Wade showed slide after slide of breathtaking beauty and abundant wildlife. The area has the largest population of Stone’s Sheep as well as grizzly, moose and caribou. He made the point tellingly: none of the bureaucrats who approved the mine had ever even visited the area.
The real loss of irreplaceable wilderness while decision-making is in the grip of the most anti-environmental government in Canadian history gets lost in the media coverage of long guns and long forms. If we do not stand up and oppose the destruction of the Sacred Headwaters, when we finally emerge, as we surely will, from this dark and bleak era of Harper-rule, we will find the death of spectacular wilderness an unbearable price to have paid.
September 28 2010 » News Clippings » rabble.ca
B.C. Rivers Day on the Bulkley
~Tyler McCreary See online version of story
On Sunday, my wife and I went canoeing. Admittedly not usually an event considered newsworthy, this trip was significant for two reasons. First, it was for the thirtieth anniversary of B.C. Rivers Day. Second, it was our first trip together on a B.C. river, and only my wife’s second time in a canoe.
B.C. Rivers Day is a province-wide event, or rather series of events, held every year on the last Sunday in September. Proclaimed by communities across B.C., local organizers host dozens of events across the province to raise public awareness about rivers and the benefits they provide to communities. Over 75,000 people participate in more than 100 events each year, celebrating the role of rivers in our lives as sources of water and salmon, as paddling areas and historic highways, and as geographic features that both astonish us with their breathtaking beauty and quietly remind us that we are home.
But as Rivers Day highlights all there is to celebrate, it also profiles the threats to our waterways. Created in 1980 by Mark Angelo, the initial Rivers Day consisted of forty people spread among five rafts floating down the Thompson River to raise awareness about the need to protect our rivers. Along their trip they cleared junk from the river, including a couple cars Angelo convinced local towing companies to remove. Reflecting on the collection of garbage they assembled by the day’s end, Angelo decided that the event should be annual.
Angelo got the provincial government to officially recognize the day to protect and celebrate rivers, and over the years, dozens of communities have participated. Angelo argues that “B.C. Rivers Day has done much to increase public awareness while encouraging people to get involved in river stewardship.”
B.C. Rivers Day’s success led to the establishment of first Canadian Rivers Day in 2002 and then World Rivers Day in 2005 as part of the United Nations Water For Life Decade. While Canadian Rivers Day is hosted on the second Sunday in June, World Rivers Day is celebrated alongside B.C. Rivers Day at the end of September.
Along the Bulkley River in the northwest interior, folks decided to celebrate Rivers Day in 2010 with series of events, involving first a paddle, then a barbeque, then another paddle, and finally more food and drinks. Gladys Atrill and the folks at Northern Sun Tours organized the flotilla of paddle craft heading down the Bulkley River from the Walcott Bridge.
Due to the heavy rains in the preceding days the river had risen significantly and turned a chocolaty brown. Barbara, my better half, was clearly seeing the worst in the situation. Watching the river speed by from the sand bar, she was less than confident in either her or my abilities. (It probably didn’t help that in our only other canoeing adventure we dumped the canoe over some small rapids).
Fortunately, the support of a community of paddlers helped calm her anxiety. Francois Depey quietly provided some last minute instructions that provided additional confidence on the water. Away from shore, the river seemed far gentler as we floated along, part of the fleet of sixty-five people paddling down the waterway.
Around noon, we arrived at the opening of the Bulkley River Recreation Centre. After bring the canoe to shore, we found Skeena Wild Conservation Trust and Glacier Toyota provided barbequed salmon and potato salad and hot cider, while the Round Lake Community Association organized speakers, music, and prizes.
The celebration began with an opening by a hereditary chief from the Laksamshu (Fireweed) clan of the Wet’suwet’en, who was responsible for the territory. Ali Howard, a woman who swam the length of the Skeena River to raise awareness about development issues on the river, gave a brief speech noting the importance of rivers. Then local musicians provided the backdrop for a community celebration. The barbeques steadily cooked fish, and people slowly ate, mingled and chatted, while children ran and played.
Eventually the paddlers returned to their boats, and completed the final leg of the journey, a fifteen minute float to the Quick Bridge. There the Friends of the Morice and Bulkley hosted an informal gathering with drinks and snacks, and group photo alongside a mounted sign saying no to Enbridge’s proposed tar sands oil pipeline.
Grasping upon the political origins of B.C. Rivers Day, the Friends of the Morice and Bulkley united their celebration of the river with opposition to the development activities that threaten it. The group had issued a call for community members to organize myriad events along the waterway, celebrating clean rivers and demonstrating resistance to Enbridge. Recognizing that an oil pipeline spill would endanger the river and everything that depends upon it — salmon, wildlife, water quality, recreation, jobs, and a way of life — Friends of the Morice and Bulkley collected photos from these different events to support their campaign to protect these rivers.
While we are happy to support such a campaign, the pictures from B.C. Rivers Day also represent something else for Barbara and I. They represent a canoe excursion that did not involve an involuntary swim, and the beginning of a discussion about the possibility, indeed necessity, of getting our own canoe.
September 24 2010 » News Clippings » Vancouver Sun
New Water Act may help protect endangered Sacred Headwaters
By Karen Tam Wu, Special to the Sun
The last Sunday of September marks Rivers Day, the day when people around the world celebrate one of the planet’s greatest resources — our rivers. This Rivers Day in British Columbia, however, may be one to mourn.
In May of this year, the headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers, an area known as the Sacred Headwaters, were declared the most endangered rivers in our province. Royal Dutch Shell’s plan to drill for coal-bed methane (CBM) is the biggest threat to three of our greatest salmon rivers.
During his keynote address at the World Energy Congress in Montreal last week, Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser extolled the virtues of unconventional sources of natural gas as the answer to worldwide hunger for energy, and he claimed the risks associated with extraction were worthwhile. Voser dismissed public concern about the impact of hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to drill for natural gas, on freshwater resources. Voser called for relaxing of regulations to allow natural gas development to “reach its potential.”
Seen somewhat as the messiah who can lead the world to B.C.‘s wealth of natural gas, Bill Bennett, B.C. minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources, became an instant celebrity at the congress.
Given Bennett and Voser’s comments last week, it sounds like B.C. is going full speed ahead in the natural gas business. While some risks of development may be mitigated, ecologically unique and sensitive areas, such as the Sacred Headwaters, should never be endangered in the first place.
The Sacred Headwaters is an intricate complex of lakes and streams, amid delicate alpine meadows, lush with alpine shrubs and flowers. The Skeena is the second longest river in the province and the second-most productive salmon-bearing river in North America. Subjecting an area so abundant with pure freshwater to gas extraction and the subsequent impacts on the local and downstream communities, wildlife and fish that depend on the rivers — the arteries of the landscape — is cause for grief.
Well pads, pipelines and roads associated with CBM would transform this picturesque landscape into an industrial checkerboard. Burying our heads in the sand would only review an equal, if not worse horror underground.
To fracture rock seams to allow the gas to rise to the surface, hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is employed. Millions of gallons of water spiked with an industry trade-secret recipe of hydrocarbons (e. g. diesel, benzene, MTBE) and sand are blasted into the ground at high pressure. Some of the injected fracturing fluids are recovered, but much remains underground. Where these toxic chemicals flow underground is unknown and unpredictable. Thanks to loopholes in, and exemptions to, regulation, companies are not required to disclose the full ingredient list of injected chemicals, or which are toxic and/or carcinogenic.
The impacts of fracking that communities have reported in the U.S., where commercial-scale CBM extraction has been occurring, are frightening: fish and other aquatic life suffering from decreased water flow in streams and lakes; residents lighting their tap water on fire; drinking-water wells, and even homes, exploding; fish kills due to fracturing fluid spilling into wetlands and creeks; and cattle dying due to contaminated surface water.
This could sound like the makings of a eulogy for the Sacred Headwaters, but there’s hope. The B.C. government is modernizing the Water Act. It was originally passed in 1909 — a time when the West was being settled. Social, economic and ecological conditions were very different from current reality.
To protect our precious water resources, a modernized Water Act must:
- Prioritize values such as basic human needs (e. g. clean, non-flammable drinking water) and ecologically based flows to protect fish and wildlife.
- Regulate groundwater usage.
- Require oil and gas companies to fall under the same requirements as other users, and apply for a licence from the Ministry of Environment, rather than repeatedly obtaining short-term leases through the oil and gas commission.
- Enable local involvement in water resource planning and management, which will prevent firms from monopolizing the resource.
These simple principles will go a long way to addressing the loopholes that currently allow the industrial free-for-all on our water resources that is taking place in the extreme corners of our province, unbeknownst to most of us. A strong Water Act, which protects our water and our rivers, and allows unique places, such as the Sacred Headwaters to thrive, will be cause for celebration.
Karen Tam Wu is an energy campaigner with ForestEthics, a non-profit agency with staff in Canada and the United States.
September 20 2010 » Home Feature
Skeena Swim Film to show at Calgary International Film Festival
Awakening the Skeena will make it’s first festival premiere at the Calgary International Film Festival you’re invited. Film-maker, Andrew Eddy, will be in attendance alongside Ali Howard and her “enchanted” Swim Team.
So come join the fun, SWCC members, volunteers, staff & swim team will be making the journey to Calgary in a salmon decorated convoy and you can jump on board.
We have invited staff from Shell Canada to attend and hope they will make an effort to come see the very film they helped to inspire.
September 14 2010 » News Clippings » CTV News
Shell spending billions to boost natural gas development
Royal Dutch Shell PLC is betting big on a global shale gas “revolution” and will soon be producing more natural gas than crude oil as it develops properties in Canada, the United States and China.
In the next few years, the international oil company expects to more than triple its production of gas in North America, despite the current glut of gas on the market, Shell chief executive officer Peter Voser said in an interview Monday.
“And we could have more if we want to do so, depending on prices and markets,” Mr. Voser said after delivering a speech to the World Energy Congress, a meeting of energy executives and politicians.
The company plans to spend up to $4-billion in the next few years to develop its Groundbirch property in northeastern British Columbia, and the Marcellus properties in Pennsylvania and New York state that it acquired from East Resources Inc. in a $4.7-billion (U.S.) deal that closed this summer.
“We will be more gas than oil by 2012,” Mr. Voser said, referring to Shell’s production in terms of barrels-of-oil equivalent.
On that basis, the company will see natural gas grow to roughly 58 per cent of its production volume by the end of the decade, from 48 per cent currently.
Mr. Voser acknowledged that North American gas prices are depressed but said the market will move into better balance in the longer term. He expects demand for natural gas to climb as energy consumers – particularly in the power sector – get used to the idea of the abundant supply of gas, as well as its low price and environmental benefits. Globally, he forecast that natural-gas consumption will grow by 25 per cent by 2020 – twice the growth rate of oil.
But it is critical, he said, for governments to impose a price on carbon-dioxide emissions to create incentives for consumers to invest in lower-emitting fuels like natural gas.
While governments have promised some form of carbon prices, the effort in North America has stalled after the U.S. Congress failed to pass a climate bill, and the Canadian government waits to follow the American lead.
The Shell executive extolled the virtues of natural gas and its environmental benefits on a day when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public hearing in New York state about the impact of shale gas drilling on local water systems.
Environmental groups and some landowners have complained the oil companies are threatening water supplies through the use of hydraulic fracturing, which uses high-pressure, chemically-laced water to crack the shale rock and free the gas.
New York state has essentially prohibited the development of shale gas while it studies the issue, a ban that includes properties Shell acquired from East Resources.
The EPA has in the past said there is no evidence that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated ground water, but there have been documented cases of surface pollution and of methane contaminating well water as a result of nearby drilling operations.
Shell also faces protests over its plan to develop coal-bed methane resources in northwestern British Columbia, in the area know as a Sacred Headwaters, which feeds the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers.
Mr. Voser said the company is used to dealing with environmental concerns, and does not expect the protests to seriously impede the development of shale gas or other unconventional gas resources.
In his speech, the Shell CEO acknowledged that most energy development entails risks and that “things sometimes can and do go wrong” – a clear reference to BP PLC’s disastrous blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
“But let’s remember that energy is the lifeblood of civilization,” he said in his speech.
“Whether we like it or not, producing energy and delivering it to billions of customers around the world comes with certain risks.”
He said the industry has to manage the risks as effectively as possible.
North America is far ahead of the rest of the world in developing unconventional gas reserves, but Mr. Voser said he expects significant growth in Australia, in China and eventually in Europe and South Africa.
But he said the surge in unconventional supply will delay development of Arctic gas and the pipelines required to bring that fuel from the Alaska and Canadian offshore.
“There will be natural gas [developed] in the Arctic but you are most probably talking quite long term now. But I think it will be developed over time.”
September 14 2010 » News Clippings » CBC News
Natural Gas Risks Worthwhile - Shell CEO
The promising natural-gas industry carries environmental risks as companies work harder than ever to unlock it, a top international oil executive conceded Monday at the World Energy Congress in Montreal.
‘Whether we like it or not, producing energy and delivering it to billions of customers around the world comes with certain risks. Rather than closing our eyes to that reality, we must confront risks and manage them.‘—Peter Voser, Royal Dutch Shell CEO
Royal Dutch Shell CEO Peter Voser told delegates at the conference that the world is on the cusp of a natural gas supply boom.
He said recent events – like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – are a reminder that sometimes things can go wrong.
“I realize that there’s some public concern that fracturing could affect fresh water layers in the ground,” Voser said in his keynote speech at the conference.
“We take that concern seriously … Whether we like it or not, producing energy and delivering it to billions of customers around the world comes with certain risks.
“Rather than closing our eyes to that reality, we must confront risks and manage them as effectively as we can.”
However, Voser strongly defended the potential of natural gas as a clean and abundant energy source that will help countries reduce their overall greenhouse gas emissions. He even called on governments Monday to loosen regulations, and allow natural-gas extraction to reach its full potential.
The head of Europe’s largest oil company says the fuel will play a bigger role in the global energy mix in the coming decades.
He predicts the world’s annual natural gas demand will increase by 25 per cent by 2020 – and almost 50 per cent by 2030 – as emerging countries like China continue to grow.
“A key question is whether the world’s appetite for natural gas will keep pace with supplies,” Voser said.
Tapping into deep gas reservoirs is easier than ever with the help of new technology — and Canada is home to many promising reserves trapped underground.
Shell owns extraction rights in British Columbia, where the corporation is already producing enough gas to power more than 400,000 homes. Voser used Shell’s operations in B.C. to illustrate Canada’s potential in shale and tight gas, both of which must be extracted from rock deposits.
In one unconventional extraction method called hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – water, chemicals and sand are blasted down a well to release gas from shale.
‘Fracking’ is controversial
Shale gas production has ignited public fears of water contamination in Quebec and B.C., where the drilling – either exploratory or productive – has already begun.
Exploratory drilling in lowlands along the shores of the St. Lawrence River this past year have prompted some communities to call for a moratorium on shale gas activity.
Those concerns have prompted the Quebec government to schedule public hearings this fall and conduct an environmental review on the issue.
Quebec is also set to review its mining laws later this year.
September 13 2010 » Media Releases
CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Confronted by Protestors at World Energy Congress
(Vancouver, B.C.) – Before his keynote address today at the World Energy Congress in Montreal, CEO of global energy giant Royal Dutch Shell, Peter Voser was confronted by environmentalists to “get the Shell out” of Sacred Headwaters.
A brochure, mocked up as a Shell publication, was handed out to Voser and 1000 Congress attendees, ridiculing Shell’s activities to drill coalbed methane in the Sacred Headwaters.
“Shell cannot call themselves socially responsible when they have dismissed and undermined clear opposition from residents and communities in the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine watersheds,” said Shannon McPhail, Executive Director of Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. “Shell has never commercially produced coalbed methane in British Columbia – not to mention in salmon-bearing ecosystems or vulnerable alpine environments. I don’t think the Sacred Headwaters and our wild salmon should be their guinea pigs. Shell needs to respect our community’s demands and ‘get the Shell out’.”
Shell holds a 400,000 hectare tenure to drill for coalbed methane, a form of natural gas found in coal seams. “Shell would drill 1,500 to 10,000 wells for commercial-scale extraction. The pristine landscape would be transformed into an industrial checkerboard of roads, wellpads, and pipelines,” said Karen Tam Wu, Energy Campaigner with ForestEthics.
“Royal Dutch Shell purports to be a leader in tackling the ‘Clean Energy Challenge’. Does that include threatening the wild salmon ecosystems communities depend on for sustenance and economic well-being? Or putting the habitat of endangered caribou and grizzly bears at risk?” asked Tam Wu. “There is no way coalbed methane can be developed without altering this fragile alpine environment.”
An ad was also taken out in local newspapers, demanding the company abandon its operations in the headwaters of three major salmon-bearing rivers in northwest British Columbia. The headline of the ad, placed by ForestEthics and Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition reads “Three of the great salmon rivers run from [the Sacred Headwaters]. So should Shell.”
The British Columbia government placed a temporary ban on Shell’s activities in December 2008, for a period of two to four years. This last March, the Sacred Headwaters were declared the Most Endangered Rivers in British Columbia, due to Shell’s coalbed methane proposal. UNESCO has also said the area meets its criteria for a World Heritage Site.
Claudia Li, ForestEthics Communications Officer, 604-331-6201 ext. 224
August 03 2010 » News Clippings » Terrace Standard
Youth on the Water
SCRAMBLING UP the side of a canyon they scout out the river. The powerful, churning and pumping white water below is their destination and there’s no turning back.
They make their way through the glacial waters of the Copper River, manning the rafts and scouting out obstacles like sweepers – fallen trees – in order to make the best line down the river.
This is just one afternoon for local youth who participated in the new program, Youth On the Water (YOW), free for participants and developed by Chris Gee with the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. The program is in it’s second year, taking place last summer in the Hazletons, and coming to Terrace this year.
The nine lucky participants included Kylie Anderson, Luke and Mitch Sabal, Moses Watts, Owen Merrill, Dane Cameron, Jonas Coxen, Dillon Jensen and Patrick Moore.
The group spent the last two weeks on the waters of the northwest, learning the ins and outs of river raft guiding, first on Lakelse Lake, then taking it up a notch to the Copper, Kitimat and Skeena River.
They learned swift water rescue and river raft guiding techniques, including nearly 10 different rope ties, and how to read the water and choose the best line to travel. Guest speakers also covered educational units on specific topics such as fish species and life-cycles, wildlife habitat, First Nations culture and other current threats to the Skeena River watershed.
Ali Howard, who swam the entire length of the Skeena River last summer to raise awareness about industrial threats to the watershed, also paid the participants a visit near the end of the course.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn tangible and transferable job skills, the notion that a person can maneuver down a river, that is a huge self esteem booster,” said Gee.
The program also opens the doors for youth who may not have ever had an opportunity to be on the water, and that goes for Anderson, the lone female participant.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I just never had the opportunity,” she says. “It’s a lot of learning, but it’s interesting….I’ve enjoyed everything, it’s all pretty awesome, it’s an amazing opportunity.”
Anderson says she know only a bit about the watershed, but taking the program has given her a more in depth insight to how everything works, with a lot more detail.
Kim Ward-Robberts facilitated the program with help from Hatha Callis with Skeena Valley Expeditions, guiding the youth through all the different units that make up the program.
This is also a starting point for some participants who are now interested in taking on a career as guides, including Watts and Mitch and Luke.
“That is the reason why I wanted to take it, I want a career in outdoor recreation as a guide,” says Mitch.
It’s evident that the program was an engaging, challenging and rewarding experience as participants tried their hand at tying different knots on the bus ride to the put-in site on the Copper, taking turns shouting out answers to Callis’ and Ward-Robberts questions about what they’ve learned so far.
And when asked what their favourite part of the program was, most answered, “well, everything.”__
July 27 2010 » SWCC in the NewsNews Clippings » Terrace Standard
Youth Take it to the Water
BEING able to confidently guide a raft down swift white water is just one of the accomplishments youth will walk away with from a unique new program here.
The name is Youth On the Water (YOW) and it encourages youth to get outdoors and to learn about the watershed they live in.
Right now eight local youth are in their second week of the program, learning things like how to be a river raft guide, rope ties and swift water rescue.
The program started on July 19 and has had participants progress from working in Lakelse Lake, to taking on rapids in the Copper River. This Monday they were also treated to a visit from Ali Howard, who swam the entire length of the Skeena River last summer to raise awareness about industrial threats to the watershed.
The program is in its second year, first taking place last summer in the Hazeltons. It was developed by Chris Gee with the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, with a goal of connection youth to the water.
Check in next week for more on YOW.
June 15 2010 » Home Feature
10,000 Salmon Art Project - Exhibit is OPEN!
Last year, we sent Northwest B.C. students 10,000 salmon templates to be coloured and decorated to carry forward the spirit of the Skeena Swim. Over 6,000 of these salmon were returned to us, beautifully decorated by youth from pre-school kids to Grade 12 students and even a lot of teachers. The salmon have been applied to 28 giant paper-maché salmon as part of a new regional art project, Grand Opening on June 18.
The exhibit will continue until the end of October. We are honoured and blessed by the incredible support received from schools, teachers, students and community members. This project truly embodies the spirit of the Skeena swim and will help that spirit of celebration and connection continue in our watersheds.
Thanks to all those that have helped us get this project going:
Village of Hazelton, The Senden Group, Bruce Chandler, Misty Rivers Art Council, Diamond Willow Boys, Cynthia McCreery, Randy’s Image Design Signs, BV Printers, Jeannine Knox, Julia Hill, From the Heart Studio, Ali Howard and MANY others!!
Communities that participated in the project include:
New Hazelton, South Hazelton, Old Hazelton, Two Mile, Moricetown, Smithers, Houston, Skidegate, Masset, Charlotte City, Gingolx, New Aiyansh, Gitwinsilkw, Terrace, Port Edward, Prince Rupert, Gitsegukla, Kitwanga, Gitanyow, Kispiox, Stewart, Telegraph Creek, Iskut, Dease Lake, Nass Valley, Gitanmaax, Glen Vowell, Kitimat, Telkwa, and Greenville.
A big thank-you to our SALMON SPONSORS: Each of these organizations/businesses sponsored 1 of these giant salmon for $500!!
Bulkley Valley Credit Union
Prince Rupert Back Country Recreation Society
Good Hope Cannery
Silver Hilton Lodge – Sponsored 6 giant salmon!
Billabong Road & Bridge Maintenance
June 13 2010 » » Terrace Standard
Getting Youth on the Water
By Molly McNulty
THIS SUMMER eight lucky youth will have the opportunity to take part in a unique program which will provide river raft guide training, along with invaluable knowledge about the watershed.
The program is called Youth On the Water (YOW), developed by Chris Gee with the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. This is the second session for the program, which is free for the youth, taking place last summer in the Hazeltons. The program is now expanding with sessions this summer in Terrace, Smithers, Moricetown and Hazelton.
Gee developed the program because of a personal love of the river and water, and says that any means of connecting youth with the watershed is a valuable endeavour. “The idea is to connect young people to water in such a way that they take the opportunity to understand the value of the river beyond resource extraction,” says Gee. “It’s a great opportunity to learn tangible and transferable job skills, the notion that a person can maneuver down a river, that is a huge self esteem booster.”
Youth will learn swift water rescue and river raft guiding techniques, but guest speakers will cover educational units on specific topics such as fish species and life-cycles, wildlife habitat, First Nations culture and other current threats to the Skeena River watershed. YOW participants in Hazelton last year were able to take part in Ali Howard’s historic swim of the Skeena River by meeting her and her team on the water and guiding them into the community.
“I was absolutely thrilled, I could not believe the change in the young people, the confidence that was evident in their appearance, they way they walked, talked…some kids in the program didn’t know that right in their backyard they have a river people come from around the world to visit,” he says. Gee also notes that another important aspect of the program is to engage youth for future battles to protect the watershed from industrial projects. “We can only sustain our energy to fight against bad industrial [plans] for so long, big companies like Shell or Enbridge they can out wait all of us, what do they care to wait 15 to 20 years …the struggle now is people will be burnt out and tired, if we can in some way connect young people so they can recognize the need to take up the struggle against these poorly planned industrial projects,” he says.
Kim Ward-Robberts will facilitate the program in Terrace this summer, which runs from July 19 to 30. She says they will start out on the lake and gradually move onto an easy section of the Copper or Skeena River, with help from Hatha Callis with Skeena Valley Expeditions.
For this year’s session Ward-Robberts is looking for a letter of intent from eight enthusiastic youth (four boys, four girls) ages 16 to 20. “We want people who want to be out there,” she says.
Interested youth can send a letter of intent to Ward-Robberts at email@example.com, deadline is the end of June.
May 27 2010 » » Reuters
Enbridge files Gateway pipeline plan, fight looms
By Allan Dowd
- Enbridge says line can be operated safely
- Native group calls it “act of aggression” (Updates with opposition reaction, adds details)
VANCOUVER, May 27 (Reuters) – Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO). asked Canadian regulators on Thursday for permission to build its controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific Coast.
The long-anticipated announcement sets the stage for a bitter battle with environmental and aboriginal groups who say the risk of a tanker accident along the rugged and picturesque British Columbia coast is too great.
“The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project will open important new markets for Canadian crude oil; it will create jobs and a substantial long-term boost to our nation’s economy as well as the communities through which it will pass,” Enbridge Chief Executive Patrick Daniel said in a statement.
The C$5.5 billion ($5.2 billion) project would move up to 525,000 barrels a day of oil from Alberta to the port of Kitimat, British Columbia, giving Asia direct access to Canada’s vast oil sands via tankers. The line would also be used to import condensate.
Enbridge has said it wants the Northern Gateway line in operation by 2016.
Opponents lashed out at the filing, with the spokesman for a British Columbia aboriginal group calling it “an act of aggression” and “arrogant”, given that it comes while crews are still fighting the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“This means all out war,” said Art Sterritt, a spokesman for the Coastal First Nations.
Opponents released a poll on Wednesday saying 80 percent of British Columbians would oppose increased tanker traffic along the coast, which has been restricted on a voluntary basis since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
Enbridge said the eight-volume regulatory application it filed with the National Energy Board will demonstrate that the 1,172 km (760 mile) line and tanker traffic can be operated safely.
“Construction and operation of the Northern Gateway pipeline system and marine terminal will be a model of world-class safety and environmental standards,” Daniel said in a news release.
Enbridge says that fears of a disaster are unfounded, because Kitimat, a small industrial and forestry community, has been visited safely by more than 1,500 ships carrying petrochemical products over the past 25 years..
Modern tankers are built to withstand accidents such as the grounding of the Exxon Valdez, which helped prompt restrictions on offshore energy development on Canada’s West Coast, the company and pipeline supporters say.
Legal observers have said the BP Plc (BP.L) spill in the Gulf of Mexico could strengthen any aboriginal claims and that native groups’ concerns about the environmental impact of a spill must be addressed before the line is built.
Sterritt said compensation for territorial rights lost if the pipeline is built may not be possible because the cultures of some native Indian communities would be wiped out in the event of a major tanker accident and oil spill.
The Northern Gateway Alliance, a coalition of businesses and residents who support the project, welcomed Enbridge’s announcement and said the line would bring needed economic development to the region.