The ecologist Aldo Leopold once wrote that, “the first rule of intelligent tinkering is to keep all the pieces.” When it comes to North America’s wild salmon systems, so many pieces have been lost. We’ve dammed and polluted rivers, overfished and paved prime habitat. In the Skeena one finds a different story. While warming oceans and rivers have Skeena salmon and steelhead in the crosshairs, here in the Northwest corner of British Columbia, habitat is fairing better than many places and wild salmon continue to be an integral part of the system – not only for wildlife, but also human communities – some of which have existed in place for thousands of years. There are challenges to be sure. But the Skeena may be our best chance to figure out how people and salmon can co-exist.
Because after all, we are Salmon People.
Wild salmon are pure magic
They’re in our dreams, our stories and our freezers. In a diverse region marked by competing agendas, wild salmon are a thread of shared experience that runs through all of our communities. They are also a major economic driver for the region, supporting hundreds of healthy well- paying jobs, generating more than $100 million annually to local economies for more than 60,000 people. Humans lucky enough to call this place home are uniquely connected to salmon, with over 80 per cent of Skeena residents reporting that they interact with wild salmon in any given year. We have much work to do, applying science to monitor impacts, designing new governance systems, and protecting critical habitat, but we think it’s worth it. If we get it right for salmon, we get it right for ourselves, our kids and our grandkids.
Where hope resides
People from around the world flock to the banks of the Skeena River every season just for a glimpse of these elite athletes of natural engineering, travelling thousands of kilometres throughout the Pacific Ocean, only to swim back to whence they came, spawn and die. The Skeena is one of the last remaining wild salmon strongholds. That’s why at SkeenaWild we have hope: because we’ve already seen great things emerge when salmon are put at the centre.
SkeenaWild is working everyday with scientists, First Nations, businesses, government agencies, communities and individuals to ensure the survival of our most precious natural resources.
“We’re all here to stay.” Those were the words of Supreme Court Justice Antonio Lamer in the landmark Delgamuukw court case. We think that if we’re indeed all here for the long haul, we need to work together with a view to the future. People living in place, making wise, long-term decisions. We think it’s possible. Become part of the solution by engaging with our work, educating those around you, and pitching in when you can.
Only together will we preserve our wild landscapes and our wild salmon.
Formed in 2007, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust is dedicated to making the Skeena River and nearby coastal communities a global model of sustainability where large human and salmon populations coexist.