Fastest Free-Flowing Navigable River in North America
The Stikine River, Shtax’héen in Tlingit, or Bitter River, is known for its tremendous size and complex braided waters. It is the fastest free-flowing navigable river in North America. The Stikine | Shtax’héen drainage system is recognized as an important wilderness area with local, regional, and global ecological significance. It is a critical producer for local communities and Tribes, including nearby Wrangell and Petersburg, that rely on the river for cultural practices and food sovereignty.
Yet, several developing mining and energy projects in British Columbia threaten the health of the Stikine | Shtax’héen, putting the future of the salmon who spawn there, and all who rely on them, at risk. It is for this reason that in 2019, American Rivers named the Stikine | Shtax’héen one of the top ten most endangered rivers in the United States.
Photo by: Michele Cornelius
Reasons for Concern
Canada’s Galore Creek Mine jeopardizes Southeast Alaskan communities and regional economy, with no benefit to Alaska. The construction and operation of the proposed Galore Creek Mine in British Columbia, at the headwaters of the Stikine River | Shtax’héen, 37 miles from the Alaskan border, could put the health and well-being of our Southeast Alaskan communities and regional economy at risk.
Clean water and salmon fuel Southeast Alaska’s $2 billion/year fishing and tourism economy, sustain our communities, and are integral to cultural practices. As one of the world’s largest open-pit mines, the proposed Galore Creek Mine could permanently transform the upper Stikine and Iskut Rivers. The massive scale and untested mitigation measures of the Galore Creek Mine proposal would require water treatment for at least 250 years, if not forever, to protect the Stikine | Shtax’héen, although the mine plan does not include any water treatment.
These are just some of the reasons why this proposed mine is a bad idea.
Photo by: Alex Crook
Our concerns extend beyond them to include:
Acid leaching potential
This area contains a volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposit. All sulfide mines produce acid mine waste, but wet climates like that of the Chilkat Valley intensify the risk of acid mine drainage–toxic, acidic wastewater leaching into our watershed.
Impacts to sacred headwaters
Harm to salmon and those who depend on them