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: