River more important than mine

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2005

Juneau was recently host to a public forum on the proposed re-opening of the Tulsequah Chief mine, thanks to the efforts of Mayor Botelho and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC). The mine property is situated on a major tributary of the Taku River in British Columbia. Representatives of Redfern Mining and the British Columbia Department of Fisheries traveled here to present their reopening plans to a crowded and diverse group of Taku River landowners, sport and commercial fishermen and Juneau residents.

The Taku River is one of the few real success stories in the Pacific Northwest. This major salmon river was once depressed due to cold weather and overfishing, but now rebounds after decades of limited commercial catch, intense restocking efforts and trans-boundary agreements to increase natural escapement. The planned commercial opening this spring for king fishing is testament to those dedicated efforts and many years of sacrifice.

However, an operating Tulsequah Chief mine will do nothing to improve the salmon habitat of the Taku River. The Redfern mining group gave superficial assurances to Juneau that all is well, but their mining and road building plans are deficient in many ways. Also, the old Tulsequah Chief mine has been leaching pollutants unabated into a Taku tributary for over 50 years. The Taku is too important a river for salmon to continue this daily pollution or to risk the reopening of the long abandoned Tulsequah mine.

In addition to the testimony gathered at the Juneau forum, Taku River landowners, fishermen and Juneau residents can register their opinions directly with British Columbia officials by faxing brief comments to this address and number: DFO Major Projects Review, Tulsequah Chief mine, (604) 666-7907.

Chip Thoma


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