Shared by Northwest BC and Southeast Alaska, the transboundary region is vast, alive and abundant. In all, the transboundary watersheds cover over 130,000 square kilometers/32 million acres, a geographic area equal in size to Switzerland and Portugal put together. The region extends from high alpine tundra, through boreal landscapes and coastal rainforests, and finally to the island marine environment of Southeast Alaska.
Now, a mining frenzy is underway that could threaten Alaska fisheries and tourism jobs. Spurred by weakened environmental regulations and the construction of a massive new power line that is one of Canada’s biggest transmission projects ever, as many as 10 new large-scale mines are undergoing exploration in the mineral-rich region that borders Southeast Alaska. Five of these Canadian mineral projects are located in trans-boundary watersheds of key salmon rivers including the Stikine, Taku, and Unuk rivers. These mines could produce water pollution that may harm Southeast Alaska fishing and tourism industries while offering few, if any, economic benefits to the communities of Southeast Alaska.
The project farthest along in the development process, and one that could cause substantial environmental damage is the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell mine (KSM), located in the headwaters of the Unuk river. This mega-mine, comparable in scale to the proposed Pebble Mine, threatens water quality, wild salmon and wildlife, and the fragile, remote ecosystems that support them in both the Unuk and Nass River watersheds.
The 80-mile-long Unuk river produces one of Southeast Alaska’s largest king salmon runs and flows into Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan, a popular attraction for many of the region’s one million annual visitors. Canadian regulators are seeking public comment on KSM until October 21, 2013. Anyone who cares about wild salmonids should make their voices heard before the comment period closes.
Make your voice heard!
First read this briefing on the KSM project.
Next, send a comment about the KSM project to the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO), by using the form at The Tongass: America's Salmon Forest - your comment will go directly to the BCEAO.
- Tell Canadian officials that strong safeguards for salmon and water quality must be ensured if this mine is to be developed.
- Ask that the 45-day public comment period that ends on October 21 be extended by six months as it is not enough time for Alaskans to evaluate the KSM project, the several-thousand page environmental document accompanying it, and the enormous implications for our region.
- Demand that Seabridge hold public meetings in Southeast Alaska prior to any decision on the KSM project.
You'll find much more information on the extraordinary ecology, wildlife, marine habitat, and cultural values of the transboundary watersheds of southeast Alaska and northwest British Columbia at Rivers Without Borders.