Community Meeting: developing strategies towards a healthy Nechako Watershed

Healthy watersheds are critical to long-term social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being.

  • May. 18, 2016 1:00 p.m.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

Healthy watersheds are critical to long-term social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being according the Nechako Watershed Roundtable.

On May 10, the Fort St. James community was invited to a meeting hosted by Theresa Fresco and Amy Greenwood, both from the Watershed Program at the Fraser Basin Council.

“This is the first step by bringing communities together to talk about the watershed,” Greenwood said.

“What are the challenges? What are some of the concerns and issues? We need that community input.”

The Nechako Watershed, a magnificent river system in North Central B.C.- said to be about the size of Switzerland- is facing significant challenges including impacts of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, salvage logging, climate change and diversion of water out of the Nechako Watershed.

In light of these challenges, it has been concluded that there is a need to enhance awareness and collaboration to help ensure the long-term environmental health and wealth of the Nechako Watershed while addressing today’s needs for responsible resource development.

The Nechako Watershed Roundtable was formed to address these challenges and opportunities through a collaborative approach.

The group is comprised of representatives from a diversity of organizations, local governments, First Nations and other government agencies with a shared commitment and concern to protect and improve the health of the watershed.

“There are so many different issues depending on where you are,” Fresco said.

“We felt it was important to have various groups take part. They need to talk and coordinate their efforts.”

According to Fresco, concerned organizations and individuals began meeting in 2012 to share information, knowledge and explore common interests and brainstorm about actions needed to advance watershed health.

The group adopted a roundtable governance structure in the spring of 2015 and its official launch took place in October, 2015.

The meeting in Fort St. James was designed to allow community members the opportunity to discuss core values and issues according to Fresco.

“But it’s also about discussing actions and solutions. It’s about bringing communities together,” Fresco said.

Groups that have participated in the formation of the roundtable include: Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council, City of Prince George, District of Vanderhoof, Fraser Basin Council, Ministry of Environment and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.

And membership continues to grow since the official launch.

According to the Nechako Watershed Strategy, an early priority of the roundtable is to develop a comprehensive strategy to advance long-term health of the Nechako Watershed and to engage communities such as Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.

Fraser Basin Council and the Nechako Watershed Roundtable are also hosting community meetings in Fraser Lake and Burns Lake.

For more information regarding the Nechako Watershed Roundtable visit: http://www.fraserbasin.bc.ca/Nechako_Watershed_Roundtable.html