Wild Border Watersheds

Southeast groups push for protection from Canadian mines upriver (Alaska Dispatch News)

Throughout history, arguments over land and water usages have run the gamut from tussles over fences with next-door neighbors to shootouts over interstate grazing rights in the old west. But when land and water rights pit one country against another, that’s when things really get tricky.

That is the situation in Southeast Alaska, where residents find themselves downstream from several massive open pit gold and copper mines being developed in bordering British Columbia. The mines are located in the headwaters of some of Southeast’s largest and most productive wild salmon rivers: the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk.

Canada operates under different permitting and environmental rules than the U.S. and currently, no safeguards are in place to protect Alaska waters and fisheries from chemical and heavy-metal contaminants leaching from the B.C. mines. Recall the Aug. 4 tailings dam breach at the Mt. Polley mine, and it’s easy to understand why Southeast residents are seeing red.

(To read complete source article, click "Alaska Dispatch News")

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