Historical Perspective

Like many areas across the globe, the Columbia River Basin has changed dramatically over the last few decades. This is due to natural/organic change as well as change brought about by human activity. A prime example, the building of dams in the area has had a significant impact on the landscape and vegetation of the Basin and resulted in dramatic changes in the location and numbers of fish and wildlife—as well as the culture of First Nations and other peoples living in the area. Two of the Atlas' main supporters, Columbia Basin Trust and Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program, were established to help offset the negative effects of the various area dams.

To better understand the dramatic impact of the Keenleyside, Duncan, Mica and Libby dams, when they were put into place:

  • 2,300 people along the Arrow Lakes, and the Koocanusa, Duncan, and Kinbasket reservoirs were displaced.
  • Sixty thousand hectares (500 square kilometres) of high value, valley bottom land was flooded.
  • Numerous First Nations archaeological and burial sites were submerged or buried.

Though the current focus of our mapping on the Atlas is pre- and post-dam, logging and mining are other forms of resource extraction which have left a sizeable footprint on the Basin.

Having a historical perspective enables people to learn more about the past and make well-informed decisions about the future. We have recently integrated the historical layer into the Biodiversity Atlas and hope that you find it informative and interesting.

View the historical layer on the Biodiversity Atlas maps.


© 2013 Read our disclaimer.