The Modern History of the Nechako River: From a Healthy Ecosystem to an Industrial Canal

Photos contributed by the Nechako First Nations (Saik’uz, Stellat’en and Nadleh Whut’en)

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

This World Oceans Week, we’re supporting the Nechako First Nations and their plans for Nechako River Watershed restoration efforts. This case exemplifies the importance of watershed health and its relationship to marine health.

The Nechako River was diverted in the 1950s for the construction of the Kenney Dam and Nechako Reservoir. This caused the extirpation of Nechako River sturgeon, Nechako and Endako Chinook, and many Sockeye populations.

With less water overall and minimized peak flows, side-channels have become colonized by terrestrial vegetation. Dewatering side-channels has destroyed fish habitat and spawning areas. Photo contributed by the Nechako First Nations.
Stellat’en harvest of Nechako White Sturgeon circa 1968 (Peter Luggi Sr.). Sharing sturgeon and salmon with the community is a long-standing tradition for the Nechako First Nations. Photo contributed by the Nechako First Nations.

The Nechako First Nations (Saik’uz, Stellat’en and Nadleh Whut’en) are advocating for a return to the natural flows into the Nechako River to enable the restoration of fish populations as well as Indigenous cultural practices. The future plans of the Nechako First Nations and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako include restoring a natural flow regime to the river. Dewatering side-channels has destroyed fish habitat and spawning areas.

This project will help give the sturgeon a chance to survive, support the recovery of salmon populations and enable the restoration of Nechako First Nations cultural practice. We look forward to supporting and following the Nechako First Nations in their efforts!

Stay tuned for ways you can help support this important restoration project.