Alternative content

Sacred Headwaters Campaign

The Skeena shares its source with that of the Nass and Stikine, a remarkable alpine basin known as the Sacred Headwaters. Friends of Wild Salmon and others around the globe are working to safeguard the Sacred Headwaters' critical salmon and wildlife habitat from the threat of coalbed methane drilling.

Shell’s risky experiment

In 2004, the BC government granted Shell tenure to some 400,000 hectares of the Sacred Headwaters for the purpose of developing coalbed methane gas. The extensive Klappan Coalfield that underlies the Headwaters area could contain as much as eight trillion cubic feet of gas.

An unproven industry

Coalbed methane has never been developed in a wild salmon watershed, much less at the source of three such watersheds. Nor has ever been developed in an alpine environment. What we do know about coalbed methane is that its extraction requires a dense network of wells, roads and pipelines, and that often vast volumes of wastewater much be pumped from underground and disposed of.

Impacts on salmon and wildlife

In 2007, the Pembina Institute commissioned a study on the potential impacts of Shell’s project on the area’s wild salmon habitat. They found that the impacts — from both increased erosion and depletion of groundwater aquifers — would likely be significant.