In the Skeena, the ancient cycle continues, unbroken, for now. Steelhead and all five species of wild salmon bring abundant marine-derived nutrients to feed a rich ecosystem for wildlife populations including grizzly and black bear, wolverine, wolf, moose, deer, mountain goat and wild birds. They also sustain human communities, some of which have been here for thousands of years.
The Skeena is one of North America’s last remaining intact watersheds.
It is at risk: there are more than $100 billion in industrial projects proposed for this region. To avoid the fate of other systems which have been dammed, polluted, over-fished and paved over, they need comprehensive strategies to assess cumulative effects and encourage regional planning which protect the wild salmon ecosystems.
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. They are working with governments, First Nations, communities and individuals to sustain the long-term health and resilience of the wild salmon ecosystem.
Sustainability requires imagination, compassion and long-term balance. Salmon are the backbone of the diverse cultures, economy and ecosystem in the Skeena region. Protecting this iconic species is fundamental to maintaining and building a healthy watershed and local communities.
The regionally-based organization is focused on the effective use of science, laws and convening to empower communities to protect and strengthen vulnerable salmon populations, improve management decisions and deepen people's connection with wild salmon.
The approach is based on human and ecological sustainability, rigorous research and community input. It's simple – they support responsible development, whether it be mining, forestry, fisheries, or energy, that does not put salmon and steelhead at risk. This is done by using widely accepted scientific indicators to assess impacts.
They focus on four main program areas with an emphasis on developing long-term solutions:
Habitat and Species Protection: They provide support, leadership and education regarding development that threatens the health, resilience and diversity of wild salmon and the habitats upon which they depend. They facilitate dialogue among residents of the watershed and work with communities and all levels of government to increase understanding of impacts from existing and proposed industrial development, improve proposed projects, provide solutions, and utilize the judicial system when necessary.
Science and Research: They conduct and sponsor quality science and research relating relevant ecological, economic and social issues. Catalyze and support planning processes which advocate for ecologic, economic and social sustainability and resiliency.
Sustainable Fisheries Management: They collaborate with First Nations and conservation partners to reduce impacts on small vulnerable stocks, develop and implement re-building plans.
Community Engagement: They strive to build relationships, create dialogue, solicit feedback, share stories and information. They do this through social and educational programs, annual events, special promotions, contests and conversations in the communities. SkeenaWild supports the internationally recognized right of Indigenous people to free, prior and informed consent. They work hard to empower Skeena salmon communities to improve decision-making and long-term planning, and build a Skeena watershed regional identity. They believe a global model to sustain salmon can sustain all species.
Where is Skeena Wild Conservation Trust