Chilkat and Stikine Named 2019’s Most Endangered Rivers

Written by Sarah Davidson

April 17, 2019

Yesterday, American Rivers announced the 10 Most Endangered Rivers of 2019. Featured prominently on this list, for the first time, are two iconic and highly important rivers of Southeast Alaska: the Chilkat and the Stikine. Both rivers are facing social, environmental, economic, and health impacts from mining. Yet, both rivers are critical to the communities, salmon, and wildlife that depend on them.

The most endangered rivers designation is significant because it highlights 10 rivers in the United States facing urgent threats and “confronted by critical decisions that will determine their future” in the coming year. Check out the report here. It also points out steps that can be taken to help protect the rivers, and in doing so serves as a call to action. Selection criteria for the designated rivers are based on:

  1. A proposed action that the public can help influence to protect the river,
  2. The significance of the river to human and natural communities, and
  3. The enormity of the threat to the river and associated communities, especially considering the impacts of a changing climate.

Alaska is the only state with two of the 10 rivers considered most endangered, and they’re right here in Southeast:

#6: Chilkat River: Mining threatens the Chilkat River’s magnificent salmon runs, the largest annual bald eagle gathering in the world, key habitat for brown bears, and two communities that depend on the river for food, livelihood, and way of life. To help prevent irreversible mining impacts on the Chilkat, contact the project’s corporate investor, DOWA, and let them know that the only responsible thing to do is back out of this mine to preserve the health of the Chilkat and all who depend on it. Listen to the story here.

#10: Stikine River: North America’s fastest free-flowing navigable river supports vibrant wilderness of considerable international ecological significance. Large-scale open-pit mining in British Columbia is threatening the health of the Stikine and survival of communities who have relied on the river for thousands of years. Water quality, critical salmon spawning habitat, and downstream communities are at risk, but cooperation between the United States and Canadian governments can prevent toxic mining waste from entering Alaskan waters. Click here to learn more about the Stikine.

While it may seem to be a cause for alarm, the Most Endangered Rivers designation of these two majestic rivers suggests great opportunities for action. Your voice is needed. For more information on the Chilkat and Stikine rivers and what you can do, visit the American Rivers website.

Want to learn more? Read about the designations in the news:

USA Today: These are the 10 most ‘endangered rivers’ of 2019

National Geographic: These are the most endangered U.S. rivers

The Weather Channel: America’s 10 Most Endangered Rivers for 2019

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