The downstream Alaska demand for International Joint Commission (IJC) oversight and engagement in the Alaska – British Columbia transboundary watersheds is unprecedented. It’s coming from tribes, commercial fishermen, communities, and elected officials concerned about proposed mining development in the BC headwaters threatening outstanding salmon habitat. An IJC convening ultimately requires a federal level referral by the US. and/or Canada under the auspices of the Boundary Waters Treaty between the two nations. IJC engagement is by no means a “silver bullet” for keeping the Taku, Iskut-Stikine, and Unuk watersheds wild and thriving, but it would make possible the kind of international dialog, stakeholder involvement, and establishment of enforceable water quality standards that we believe is absolutely essential toward ecosystem based watershed stewardship.
The interest is not limited solely to the downstream U.S. side. Canadian NGOs are also joining the call. Following is a —- letter to Alaska’s Governor demonstrating Canadian NGO support for the BC – Alaska transboundary watersheds IJC idea.