Posted In:

A State Department Response To Transboundary Watershed Concerns

Will Patric : Jan 17.2018

Late 2017 saw Alaska’s Governor finally endorsing federal level involvement toward safeguarding the productivity of the transboundary Iskut-Stikine, Unuk, and Taku watersheds. Fueled by concerns about ongoing and proposed Canadian headwaters mining, downstream demand for this approach is now unequivocal, with the state, the congressional delegation, tribes, communities, and commercial fishing associations all on board. Believing that a state – provincial memorandum of understanding approach was adequate, Alaska had been reluctant to request federal involvement, so its backing of this approach suggests it is viewing the problem more seriously.

The year closed with the U.S. State Department acknowledging Alaskan transboundary concern, as well as downstream mining related concern from Montana, and pledging to engage Canadian counterparts on this issue. A State Department letter says it will “engage in a bilateral review of gaps and limitations in the cooperation framework between BC and U.S. states.”

Of course words are just that, and it remains to be seen what will come of this. But so far Rivers Without Borders is heartened by both the interest in watershed stewardship being expressed by Alaskans and the positive federal level response. Getting to this point was a long time coming, with much credit due to all involved with Salmon Beyond Borders. RWB is proud of its integral part in this progress too. In 2018 we intend to keep pressing for meaningful international dialog and the establishment of new transboundary protocols, including enforceable standards and protections, for the Taku, Iskut-Stikine, and Unuk watersheds.

Leave a Reply