Place your finger anywhere on a map of British Columbia and you will be pointing at a river. There’s an abundance of fresh running water, seemingly enough for every use: water for our homes; white water rapids that thrill rafters on the Tatshenshini; green gurgling water that’s home to grizzlies in the Khutzeymateen; damned water to produce electricity and run smelters on the Peace, Nechako, and Columbia. There is ample water for salmon, commercial fishermen, and flyfishers from the Stikine in the north, through the sprawling rivers of the Interior, to the Cowichan on Vancouver Island.
In The Run of the River, Mark Hume celebrates eleven B.C. rivers, but also raises questions about the cost of development and the cost of wilderness. Is it possible to have industry – forestry, smelting, fishing, and even tourism – and still maintain the rivers and wildlife that support them? And what are the hidden costs of development when pollution is poisoning fish and the people who eat them, when overfishing eliminates genetic stocks developed over millennia, and when dams, mines, or clearcuts create a new environment?
This book convinced the B.C. government not to build another dam on the Columbia River near Trail, and it spurred an ongoing debate about the environmental value of the province’s free running rivers.