Encouraging news comes from British Columbia, where the provincial government has committed $1.6 million to start the process toward cleaning up the long-closed Tulsequah Chief Mine that’s been leaking acid run-off into the Taku River about 40 miles northeast of Juneau since the 1950s.

The $1.6 million (Canadian) is a drop in the overall bucket of funding needed for the cleanup, which is estimated to be about $55 million. However, Alaskans potentially can take the BC government’s commitment as a good sign.

British Columbia has tremendous mineral resources, some of which are situated in the watersheds of major salmon-bearing rivers that flow from Canada across the border into Alaska.

The Red Chris gold and copper mine, for example is upstream of the Stikine River watershed. The proposed KSM mine — a massive project — would be located in the Unuk River watershed.

Southeast Alaskans have a keen interest in knowing that the British Columbia provincial government and Canadian federal government are requiring sufficient safeguards to prevent near- and long-term damage to the watersheds on both sides of the international border.

Canada to date hasn’t been very receptive to addressing concerns raised in Alaska. Perhaps British Columbia’s gesture regarding the Tuslequah Chief signals a welcome change of thinking.

We support mining and other natural resource developments that are done right, without the threat of extensive environmental damage. We’re excited about mineral prospects right here in southern Southeast Alaska, and want to see them developed to the same high standards.

Alaska and Canada stand to benefit if British Columbia’s step regarding the Tulsequah Chief is a true move in a good direction.