The Tahltan Central Council, the organization responsible for protecting Tahltan Title and Rights, commends a decision by the Government of British Columbia to extend the suspension of coalbed methane activity by Shell Canada in the sacred Klappan Valley until 2012.
The one-year extension follows a December 2008 decision by the Province to amend Shell's petroleum and natural gas tenure license for two years. It further delays Shell from exploring and developing coalbed methane, a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds, in the ecologically-sensitive Klappan Valley, and will allow for additional environmental review and First Nation consultation.
The Klappan Valley in northwestern British Columbia is home to the Sacred Headwaters - the birthplace of three major salmon bearing rivers - the Stikine, Skeena and the Nass. It's located approximately 500 kilometres north of Smithers and 300 kilometres southeast of Dease Lake.
"The extension will provide our Nation the additional time we need to better understand the environmental issues relating to coalbed methane exploration in this culturally sensitive area and to establish an agreed upon framework for decision making that recognizes Tahltan Title and Rights," says Annita McPhee, chair of the Tahltan Central Council. "The Tahltan Nation supports responsible and sustainable development that acknowledges Tahltan laws and socio-economic values."
The delay will enable the Tahltan Nation to fully explore resource management issues including land use planning, environmental baseline studies, social and cultural impact studies and eco-systems mapping prior to development. The extension builds upon years of advocacy to the government by the Tahltan Nation and other environmental groups about Shell's coalbed methane exploration in the Sacred Headwaters.
The extension is also lauded by Marie Quock, chief of the Iskut band, the Tahltan community closest to the proposed exploration.
"Our community commends the government's decision to extend the moratorium and welcomes the opportunity for further consultation," says Chief Quock. "We need to protect our land and heritage and ensure that development in our traditional territory is sustainable for generations to come."
The Tahltan Nation includes on and off-reserve Tahltans living in Telegraph Creek, Dease Lake and Iskut, and more than 3,000 living across the country. Tahltan traditional territory encompasses 11 per cent of British Columbia. More than 50 per cent of all mineral exploration in the province takes place in Tahltan traditional territory. For more information about the Tahltan Central Council, visit www.tahltan.org
Details to be aware of. All of the clean fresh water feeding all life in the northwest comes from this single spot.
An image of a profile, a man looking east, is reflected in the rivers of this region all originating from the Klappan