Great Canadian Parks / British Columbia

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The Parks / British Columbia / Tatshenshini-Alsek National Park



 


 


In the 1980's, a threat of a different kind, Geddes Resources, hoping to tap into an estimated 113 million tonnes of copper sulphide in Windy Craggy Mountains, announced plans to develop two open pit copper mines at the confluence of the Tat and Alsek Rivers. These plans included pipelines, a 4.5 square kilometre pond containing as much as 200 tonnes of acid-generating tailings and waste rock - a lethal acid bath behind a 100 metre high dam in the river system, and a road bridging the Tat and following it for 20 kilometres. This road, where every ten minutes giant double-trailer trucks would rumble through, would bisect the most densely used grizzly denning area in Canada and the only winter range for Dall's sheep in BC, destroying wilderness and jeopardizing wildlife. Opposing these plans were the conservationists who realized that the projected $85 million in copper was not worth the effects of a violent earthquake on a mine in this seismically active area. In recognition of its vulnerability, UNESCO made a recommendation in December 1992, to the governments of Canada and British Columbia that the Tatshenshini Wilderness be preserved and designated with World Heritage Site status. In June 1993, the BC government announced that it would create a park reserve in the Tat-Alsek region.

 

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