Wade Davis, Sacred Headwaters, A Victory – For Now
The Stikine Valley in British Columbia is sacred to the First Nations people, the Tahltan. The region encompasses one of the largest predator-prey ecosystems in North America. Rich in wildlife – caribou, stone sheep, moose, mountain goats, grizzlies and wolves – and mountain majesty, the Sacred Headwaters, about 200 miles south of Watson Lake, Yukon, and 150 miles east of Juneau, Alaska, is also – and here’s the good news and the bad news – rich in energy and minerals. The Stikine until very recently was threatened by energy development.
Telluride became aware of the David & Goliath story several years ago, thanks to Mountainfilm regular, Wade Davis.
Davis is explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, ethnobotanist, poet, photographer, and eco-activist. He is also the author of numerous books, including “One River” and “The Serpent and the Rainbow.” Davis has lived and worked in the Stikine as a park ranger, guide, and anthropologist since 1978. He and his wife, Gail Percy, own Wolf Creek Lodge, the closest private holding to both the Sacred Headwaters – and the proposed site of the Red Chris mine.
In part to raise funds to fight the mining, Davis wrote the text for a book entitled “The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeeba, and Nass,” illustrated by a collection of photographs by the International League of Conservation Photographers and by other professionals who have worked here, including Sarah Leen of the National Geographic. Davis’ compelling words described the region’s beauty, the threats to it, and the response of the inhabitants. The inescapable message: no amount of methane gas can compensate for the sacrifice of a place that could be the Sacred Headwaters for all the peoples of the world.
Davis’ book was published in November 2011. This hopeful story about how native and nonnative came together to fight the drilling and, at least for now, Shell is not doing its thing. Davis is quoted at the end of the article by Ted Alvarez that appeared in Grist (12/18).
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