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Stuart River

Located in central British Columbia west of Prince George, the Stuart River flows over 110 km from Stuart Lake to its junction with the Nechako River. The river drains a portion of the Nechako Plateau — a gently-rolling region characterized by small lakes and tributaries. Low but impressive ridges interact with the river, creating high bluffs and hoodoos.

The Stuart River drainage has typical riparian and upland forests associated with the major river systems on the Central Interior Plateau, with lodgepole pine, spruce, cottonwood, aspen, Douglas-fir and some birch. Typical understory includes willow, dogwood and alder. Open grass sidehills with dwarf juniper and park-like stands of aspen and spruce are also common.

The area is high-value wildlife habitat, providing deer, moose and elk with winter ranges and riparian feeding areas. A small elk herd lives in the area and trumpeter swans winter in the Upper Stuart. The Stuart River itself is home to sturgeon and one of the highest-quality wild sockeye salmon runs in the world. In some years, up to one million salmon migrate up the river system to the spawning grounds in tributary streams and rivers north of Stuart Lake.

The area is believed to have high potential for gold, zinc-copper-lead and molybdenum deposits. Placer gold mining has been intermittent along the tributaries of Dog Creek and Tsah Creek since the 1930's. The industrial mineral potential is also reportedly high for deposits such as limestone, talc and magnesite.

The corridor is rich in First Nations history and contains archaeological sites of the Carrier people, including a provincially significant site at Chinlac, an ancient village near the confluence of the Nechako and Stuart rivers. The entire area lies within the traditional territory of the Nak'azdli First Nation of Ft. St. James and the Sai' Kuz First Nation of Stoney Creek.

The Stuart River was the exploration route of Simon Fraser and the travel route of the New Caledonia fur trade canoe brigades. Paddlewheelers plied the rivers (circa 1900) to supply Fort St. James and other fur trading outposts. Today, guide outfitters use riverboats to guide hunters along the river and many resident hunters access the area by riverboat from the Sturgeon Point Road or from Fort St. James.

A significant component of the river has been designated as provincial park due to land-use decisions resulting from the Vanderhoof, Prince George and Fort St. James Land and Resource Management Plans.

Proclaimed B.C. Rivers: