The Nechako Environment and Water Stewardship Society (NEWSS) was born from the successful work of the Murray Creek Rehabilitation Project. Since 2006, members of NEWSS and our partners have conducted numerous restoration projects on Murray Creek. The success of this project lead to the idea of working within the entire Nechako Watershed.

The recognition that environmental degradation in the Nechako Plateau had led to visible and obvious consequences in many of the streams in the region has been the inspiration to develop and move forward with NEWSS. Early agricultural clearing practices where it was considered acceptable to clear riparian areas and reshape stream channels without consideration to the stream ecosystem drove much of the degradation. Subsequent land practices in the flood plains of these streams and the changes in the upstream hydrology imposed by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic have accelerated stream bank erosion and made it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for the riparian areas of many of these streams to restore themselves. The absence of a functioning riparian zone, in combination with incorrectly sized/placed culverts and various other land management decisions have led to decreased water quality and reduced high quality fish habitat in the small and medium sized streams across the agricultural region.

The initial priority of what was at the time the Vanderhoof Fish and Game club, focused on activities that restored riparian ecosystems, removed barriers to fish migration and attempted to remove or mitigate obvious contaminant sources (human septic, manure) to the Murray Creek watershed. The success of the Murray Creek Rehabilitation Project.was rooted in the actions of volunteer members and a remarkable willingness of landowners, residents and industry to thoughtfully reverse the environmental degradation that has occurred in this one watershed. The Murray Creek group met with landowners, made plans, raised funds and took actions to restore this stream’s ecosystem. More than just doing the work and walking away, this ongoing project includes people of all ages from all over, fosters learning together, and continually shares those lessons through presentations, conversations and countless watershed tours where people see, touch and/or participate in an intiative that is solely intended for the betterment of society and the environment. NEWSS began with the intent to again take another step forward and take the success of Murray Creek and extrapolate that onto the entire Nechako watershed.

The purpose of NEWSS is to corroboratively improve damaged stream ecosystems within the Nechako Watershed by restoring riparian function in the flood plain of streams, enhancing the regions collective awareness of surface and groundwater as a single resource and creating an atmosphere where the residents, land owners and various industries can voluntarily improve land and water stewardship practices. The intended outcome is improved water quality, resilient stream ecosystems and enhanced capacity of the region as a whole to understand and manage water security in the face of climate change and into the future.

Vision & Objectives

The vision of NEWSS is to act in an advisory capacity for both landowners and government, to serve as a vehicle for the delivery of incentives and investments into the Nechako watershed and to act as a trust that continually to inspires people, landowners and industry to demonstrate high quality land and water stewardship.

NEWSS will facilate an ongoing conversation that will seek to be inclusive of not only existing stakeholders, community members and special interest groups but also those who emerge along the way. Within our conversation, we will seek to garner support and build partnerships to develop a common vision for land and water stewardship in the Nechako Watershed. Cooperatively, we will establish priorities and implement projects that build towards achieving these primary objectives of NEWSS:

  • Facilitating the rehabilitation of streams that flow through the Nechako Agricultural Belt.
  • Facilitating watershed planning that provides a framework to protect, maintain and restore a healthy natural watershed.
  • Collaborating to improve the mapping of aquifers that lie beneath the Nechako Plateau and foster an improved understanding of the role healthy streams and riparian areas play in the dynamic interaction of surface and groundwater.
  • Assisting government to meet its stated vision for a cleaner and healthier environment.
    Facilitating and participating in environmental stewardship and education opportunities for schools, universities and the community at large, including stream rehabilitation, water quality, Nechako White sturgeon and salmonids.
  • Developing a program to administrate a “Gold Label” certification standard for agricultural products produced in the Nechako Valley by identifying opportunity to recognize agriculture producers that have Farm Stewardship Plans in place and apply Best Management Practices on the land and streams with stewardship as an objective and to ensure the legacy of these values.

Operating Area

The Nechako River watershed is made up of 30 small to medium sized watersheds [insert link] in the Nechako Plateau. These watersheds include a combination of both crown and privately owned land. Most of the stream main-stems also flow through an area designated as the Vanderhoof Crown Land Plan, which includes land designated for agricultural, wildlife reserves and gravel pits.


The operating area for the NEWSS is not predetermined and we would prefer to let the public conversation guide these decisions. The 30 watersheds identified in Figure 1 are proposed as a starting point for the discussion.

The vision of NEWSS is to act in an advisory capacity for both landowners and government, to serve as a vehicle for the delivery of incentives and investments into the Nechako watershed and to act as a trust that continually to inspires people, landowners and industry to demonstrate high quality land and water stewardship.

Board of Directors

The current Board of Directors has five directors:
Wayne Salewski
Brian Frenkel
Richard Martens
Cam Hill