April 26, 2004

Clearwater-Christina become first Alberta rivers in national heritage network

Federal Environment Minister David Anderson recently designated the Clearwater-Christina Rivers to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS). This is Alberta's first provincial designation to the national river conservation network.

The Clearwater-Christina Rivers are located in the Boreal Forest Natural Region of northeast Alberta. Unique to Alberta, the course and shoreline of the Clearwater-Christina Rivers reveal numerous physical and biological features including waterfalls, foaming rapids, sand bars and mineral springs. Although human associations with the river extend over many thousand years, today's limited access offers an outstanding wilderness recreational opportunity along most of the river.

The Clearwater-Christina Rivers were initially nominated for designation in 1996 and the Clearwater River Committee was established, representating local river interests (e.g. recreation, industry, environment). The committee invested considerable time and effort in producing the Clearwater-Christina Rivers Management Plan, which accommodates the needs and interests of the various stakeholders. It was signed by the Clearwater River Committee members, including the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the Fort McMurray First Nation.

The Canadian Heritage Rivers System is a national river conservation program through which federal, provincial and territorial governments, and numerous other stakeholders co-operate to recognize, protect and manage Canadian rivers of outstanding natural and/or cultural values and recreational opportunities.

Ralph Klein initiated Alberta's participation in the CHRS program while he was the provincial Environment Minister. Subsequently as Premier, he made the province's involvement official.

Anderson also announced the designation of British Columbia's Cowichan River to the CHRS. Located near the community of Duncan, on southeastern Vancouver Island, the river is the centrepiece of the Cowichan valley. It flows 47 kilometres eastward from Cowichan Lake to Cowichan Bay on the Georgia Strait, and drains an area of approximately 939 square kilometres. The river has a rich cultural history, from traditional First Nations use to more recent settlement based on forestry, agriculture and fishing.

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