Braided channels and marshes twist and tangle across the Taku’s river valley. A thousand variations of green, brown, and blue, these intricate waterways make up some of the best salmon rearing habitat on the planet. Seven miles south of Juneau, the Taku River is the largest totally intact watershed on the Pacific Coast of North America. Home to all five species of Pacific salmon, as well as wolves, brown and black bears, moose, mountain goats, wolverine, and lynx, and just about every kind of migratory bird found in Southeast Alaska, the Taku watershed shines.
But just across the Canadian-U.S. border, on the banks of the Tulsequah River (main tributary to the Taku River), the Tulsequah Chief Mine’s dilapidated remains are leeching sickly red acid mine waste into this pristine river-system.
The Taku has been the traditional territory of the T’aaku Kwaan for millennia. Head up the Taku Inlet today and you’ll find Juneau-ites using the Taku for subsistence, sport fishing, and recreation. Commercial fishermen from Juneau and surrounding communities rely on the Taku’s massive salmon runs for their livelihoods, and tens of thousands of tourists come to marvel at the Taku’s wildlife and glacial landscape.
The Tulsequah Chief Mine hasn’t operated since the 1950s, so why is this site still not cleaned up, despite the acknowledged need?
Plain and simple.
B.C.’s alternate solution is to help the owner of Tulsequah Chief find yet another buyer, not to clean-up the site, but to re-open it and expand it. And then once they’re done mining, that new owner will clean up the site.
Let’s just say we’re feeling skeptical – especially given that the two most recent owners of the mine went bankrupt within a few years.
The Taku River is in Juneau’s backyard and belongs to all of us. We want our children and our children’s children to have the chance to pull in a net full of fighting sockeye salmon, to see a bull moose pick his way across a marsh, and to fly over the Taku and see nothing but beautiful clean water.
Take half a minute and sign on to let our local, state, and congressional elected officials know that you want them to stand up and defend our salmon rivers.
SALMON BEYOND BORDERS is a campaign driven by sport and commercial fishermen, community leaders, tourism and recreation business owners and concerned citizens, in collaboration with Tribes and First Nations, united across the Alaska/British Columbia border to defend and sustain our transboundary rivers, jobs and way of life.
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