The Alaska – British Columbia transboundary region ranks among North America's top ecological hotspots. Here six international mountains-to-sea river systems form in northwest B.C., traverse diverse interconnected eco zones, and pour across southeast Alaska's panhandle into Pacific Ocean estuaries teeming with life.

The storied transboundary rivers are all still largely intact, several virtually pristine, and boast world-class runs of the five wild Pacific salmon species. In a time of accelerating climate change and species loss, the significance of these watersheds as complete, diverse, and resilient reservoirs of biodiversity may be unparalleled. The transboundary region is home to First Nations and Native Alaskans including Tlingit, Tahltan, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples. Communities on both sides of the border depend on its natural bounty. Robust wildlife populations here include grizzly and black bears, moose, caribou, mountain goats, sheep, wolves, and myriad species of birds, both resident and migratory.

North to south, the transboundary watersheds are the Alsek-Tatshenshini, Chilkat, Taku, Whiting, Iskut-Stikine, and Unuk. These names are practically synonymous with the essence of North American wilderness. Covering 130,000 square kilometers, or 32 million acres, the majority of the transboundary region is Canadian, embracing an area the size of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia combined.

In addition to sharing outstanding ecological and cultural values, along with jaw-dropping scenery, the transboundary watersheds share another commonality. Mineral and energy wealth lies in their headwaters. The rugged and remote character of the transboundary region, without roads and power infrastructure, kept it mostly free of industrial development through the 20th century. But the Northwest Transmission Line, completed in 2014 and bringing subsidized provincial power into the southern transboundary region, has jump started mining activity. The transboundary headwaters are now viewed as a mining frontier, and numerous mine projects are in various stages of planning or development.

Rivers Without Borders is raising awareness of the transboundary watersheds and promoting ecosystem based planning and decision making to sustain their outstanding attributes. Engaging on both sides of the border, our organization is unique in it's conservation mandate and vision for keeping the Alaska – BC transboundary watersheds intact and thriving.

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The Transboundary Watersheds...

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TAKU 

Imagine one of the wildest places on the planet.  Where, across more than four million acres of remote rivers, verdant forest, soaring peaks, alpine snowfields, and marine estuaries teeming with life, there are no roads, no dams, no development or infrastructure of any sort.  A place where the word spectacular doesn’t begin to describe the scenery everywhere you look...

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CHILKAT

North of the Taku is the Chilkat watershed. Covering about 900,000 acres or 36,500 hectares, it’s considerably smaller than the Taku, but no less spectacular.  Unlike other transboundary river systems, only the very headwaters of the Chilkat are in British Columbia, the far northwest corner of the province, making most of the watershed Alaskan, embracing the upper end of the state’s southeast panhandle...

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ISKUT-STIKINE

The transboundary Iskut-Stikine watershed is one of North America’s largest and most intact wild salmon watersheds. The Stikine, meaning The Great River in the Tlingit language, covers a diverse range of climates and geography from alpine tundra to ancient coastal rainforests...

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UNUK

The spectacular Unuk is small, but it packs a wallop. At 80 miles (130 km) long and draining some 1500 square miles (3885 km2), it is dwarved by its vast neighbour the Iskut-Stikine. But size doesn’t matter in the case of the Unuk. It beats out its larger northern cousin with the largest runs of king (Chinook) salmon in southern Southeast Alaska and all five species of wild Pacific salmon come home to its waters...

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WHITING

The Whiting is the wildest and most remote watershed in the BC-Alaska transboundary region. It is the only watershed without any roads of any description. In transboundary terms, it is a small watershed, nestled in glacial terrain between the giant Iskut-Stikine and Taku watersheds...