Historic protection for B.C.'s Sacred Headwaters Announced

Coalbed methane development permanently banned from headwaters of major salmon rivers

VANCOUVER, Dec. 18, 2012 /CNW/ - The B.C. government announced today that Shell would be withdrawing plans to develop coalbed methane in the Klappan-Groundhog tenure area in northwest British Columbia. The government will also not issue oil and gas tenures in the area in the future.

"Eight years ago, northern B.C. communities joined together to say 'no' to coalbed methane and 'yes' to wild salmon," said Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition executive director Shannon McPhail. "Today is an incredible day for residents of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine watersheds. We are grateful and proud that First Nations and communities from the watersheds came and stood together. The B.C. government and Shell deserve recognition for listening to these communities and making a decision that will protect salmon cultures and livelihoods."

Known as the Sacred Headwaters, the region became the source of controversy when Shell drilled three test wells in the area. Blockades and public rallies resulted in the Province imposing a moratorium on CBM development in 2008, which expires today.

"Shell has backed away from a project only a handful of times. The powerful, relentless movement led by the courageous Tahltan and supported by nearly 100,000 people from around the world has not only stopped Shell, but persuaded the B.C. government to permanently protect the region from any further gas development," said ForestEthics Advocacy senior conservation campaigner Karen Tam Wu. "It's an inspiring day when communities in northern B.C. can stand up to one of the largest oil companies in the world and win. Congratulations to the Tahltan, and to the citizens and government of British Columbia."

ForestEthics Advocacy is a non-profit society devoted to public engagement, outreach and environmental advocacy — including political advocacy. We secure large-scale protection of endangered forests and wild places and transform environmentally destructive resource-extraction industries. Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition is a non-profit society focused on cultivating a sustainable economy rooted in culture and a thriving wild salmon ecosystem. As residents of the region, we advocate for community-based decision-making regarding large industrial projects.

For more information, visit http://bit.ly/VNQt9Q.

SOURCE: ForestEthics

For further information:

Melyssa Rubino, melyssa@forestethicsadvocacy.org, 604-331-6201, ext 227

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