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The Stikine

View the Stikine River Watershed Region Photo Gallery

View the Stikine River Watershed Region Photo Gallery

The Place:

The Stikine River watershed is located in northwestern BC. In the headwaters, streams drain a high, mountain-rimmed plateau and then merge to form the beginning of the Stikine River. In its midsection the river, called the “Great River” in the native Tahltan language, cuts a dramatic 90 km (60 mi) long, 300 m (1000 ft) deep canyon through volcanic rock, forming the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. In its lower reaches, the river braids its way through a broad U-shaped valley bordered by high, glaciated peaks. Finally, it crosses the Canada-US border to empty into the Pacific Ocean near Wrangell, Alaska.


The Stikine River provides drainage for a 20,000 square mile watershed that remains in a nearly pristine state. This watershed supports a broad spectrum of wildlife with intact predator-prey relationships in a wide variety of biogeoclimatic zones, or habitats that extend from coastal rainforest to boreal forest to alpine. This extensive watershed supports exceptional numbers of wildlife including both predator and prey species – grizzlies, wolves, moose, caribou, mountain goats, and stone sheep.

The Campaign:

BC Spaces for Nature has a long history of involvement in the Stikine region. In 1975 Ric Careless lead the campaign to protect the Stikine headwaters in Spatsizi Wilderness Park. The decades long campaign to protect all of the Stikine has been headed by the conservation group Friends of Stikine. BC Spaces for Nature staff are working closely with the Friends of Stikine to ensure that this 400 mile long river remains wild.

On October 10, 2000 the dream of a wild Stikine, remaining intact from its headwaters to the Alaskan border, was realized when government announcement that protected over 26% of the 13.5-million acre Stikine-Iskut drainage, adding an additional 1.1 million acres in parks to the 2.4 million acres already protected. The plan designates another 4.1 million acres as Special Management Zones (SMZs), with the majority of these SMZs off-limit to logging. As a result, 60% of this great watershed is under conservation management.

Remarkably, getting this conservation management over 7.6 million acres was achieved through multi-party negotiations leading to a full consensus agreement at the land use planning table. We wish to acknowledge the Tahltan First Nation, for playing a leadership role in forging this agreement.

Currently the region is undergoing a multi-stakeholder land use planning process: the Local Resources Management Plan.

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Campaign Map of the Stikine River region
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Biogeographical Map of the Stikine River region
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