The Skeena is faced with a variety of issues that threaten our salmon and the benefits they provide for our region. These include development such as mining, oil and gas projects, hydro-electric river diversions, over harvesting of weak stocks domestically and in Alaska, and habitat degradation from poor forestry practices.
Two of the largest issues to face the Skeena watershed in recent years--issues which have united communities--are Shell's coal bed methane development plans in the Sacred Headwaters, and Enbridge's proposal to build a dual pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to the Great Bear Rainforest.
Enbridge Northern Gateway
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project proposal includes two parallel 1,170 kilometer pipelines from the tar sands in northern Alberta to a proposed oil port in Kitimat. One pipeline would carry between 400,000 to 1,000,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the Alberta tar sands to the BC coast. The second pipeline would carry 193,000 barrels a day of condensate, a mixture containing chemicals and petroleum used to dilute the thick, molasses-like crude oil so that is can travel by pipeline. The proposed Enbridge pipeline would require over 1,000 stream and river crossings; this includes several hundred crossings in the Copper and Morice watersheds, two of the Skeena's largest salmon producing tributaries. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project would also include the construction of a loading facility, including tank farms, near Kitimat. Super tankers would transport oil and condensate along BC's coast from Kitimat to markets in the United States and Asia. It is anticipated that approximately 225 condensate and crude oil tankers every year would travel our inside coastal waters.
At the headwaters of the Skeena River, Royal Dutch Shell was proposing a gigantic coalbed methane project involving over 1,000 gas wells. This area, called the Sacred Headwaters because it is the shared birthplace of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers, is home to grizzly bears, caribou, and several species of wild salmon. Shell's project has been strongly opposed by the First Nations of the three watersheds, as well as municipal and regional governments, labour unions, and guide outfitter associations. The issue has gained media attention around the world. As a result, in December 2008 the B.C. government announced a two-year moratorium on Shell's development activities. In 2010 the moratorium was extended another 2 years. On December 18th, 2012, the provincial government announced a permanent ban on oil and gas development in the Sacred Headwaters. Conservation groups such as Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition continue to work towards permanently safeguarding the Sacred Headwaters.
To learn more about the coalbed methane or to take action, visit Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition or join Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition on Facebook