Xboundary: New film explores B.C. mine threats to Alaska salmon

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A new short film about Southeast Alaska’s rich salmon fisheries, its vibrant tourism industry, and Native cultures is live online and being screened in Anchorage this week.

Xboundary, by Alaska filmmaker Ryan Peterson, explores the rich tapestry of Southeast Alaska and the threats it faces from a slew of mines being developed across the border in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada.

Sponsored in part by Trout Unlimited, Alaska Program, Xboundary should serve as a rallying cry to anyone who cares about wild salmon, trout, steelhead and the pristine Alaska habitat that supports them.

If you haven’t heard about B.C.’s mining boom and how it could harm neighboring Alaska, you can learn more by exploring the various links on the Salmon Beyond Borders website. In short, B.C. is moving ahead with up to six large-scale mines with the potential to leach acid mine drainage and other pollutants into downstream Alaska waters. One of the mines, Red Chris, just opened this month. It’s in the headwaters of the Stikine River, a salmon-rich transboundary waterway that begins in B.C. and flows out at Wrangell, Alaska.

Red Chris is owned by the same company, Imperial Metals, responsible for the Aug. 4 tailings dam disaster at Mount Polley mine in central B.C., one of Canada’s worst environmental disasters. Besides Red Chris, B.C. and the Canadian federal government have allowed the KSM mine to move forward. If financing is secured and the mine developed, KSM, upstream from Alaska’s Misty Fjords National Monument, would be North America’s largest open-pit mine.

If you’re wondering what you can do to try to stop these disasters in the making, there’s a way. TU and the Salmon Beyond Borders coalition are asking Secretary of State John Kerry to act. Under authority of the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty, Kerry could refer the transboundary matter to the International Joint Commission (IJC) for review. The IJC has settled transboundary water disputes between Canada and the United States before, and it can recommend how Southeast Alaska waters are to be protected. You can click here to add your voice to the call on Kerry to act.

With B.C. showing no signs of slowing down its push to open new mines near Alaska’s border, now is the time to act.





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