About the Upper Fraser Region
The Upper Fraser Region is the largest of the Fraser Basin’s five regions, encompassing 78,164 km2. The region features some of the most rugged and varied terrain in the Fraser Basin, with abundant wildlife and spectacular landscapes. In the centre, there is the broad rolling Interior Plateau with forests of spruce, pine and sub-alpine fir trees, and numerous rivers and lakes. To the east are the Rocky Mountains and the northern end of the Columbia Mountains, an area known as the Interior Wet Belt, with cedar and hemlock forests; to the west, the Coast Mountains.
As of 2011, the population of the Upper Fraser was just over 113,600, or 3.8% of the Fraser Basin population. The population has increased almost 5% since 2006, following 15 years of population decline.
Residents of the region enjoy some of the most affordable housing in the Basin and access to a range of amenities, services, cultural and sports events, and wilderness areas ideal for outdoor activities.
The Upper Fraser includes most major communities in the Fraser-Fort George Regional District and the central and eastern communities in the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District. Visit the regional district websites to learn about work and strategic directions.
Prince George, known as BC's northern capital, is a bustling city of 71,000, situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, almost exactly in the geographic centre of the province. Other Upper Fraser communities include Burns Lake, Fort St. James, McBride, Valemount and Vanderhoof.
This region is the traditional territory of Dakelh, Witsuwit’en and Nedut’en-speaking peoples. First Nations include the Cheslatta Carrier, Lake Babine, Lheidli T'enneh, Nadleh Whuten, Nak'azdli, Nee-Tahi-Buhn, Saik’uz, Skin Tyee, Takla Lake, Tl'azt'en, Ts'il Kaz Koh, Wet’suwet’en and Yekooche. The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council is based here.
The boundaries of the Upper Fraser Region are based primarily on natural boundaries of the regions watersheds: the Upper Fraser, McGregor, Nechako and Stuart-Takla.
The most northern watershed of the Fraser River is the Stuart-Takla. The Stuart River originates at the south end of Stuart Lake near Fort St. James and flows southeastward for 187 km to join the Nechako River 55 km west of Prince George.
The Nechako River rises on the Nechako Plateau east of the Coast Mountains south of Burns Lake, flows north through Fort Fraser, then east through Vanderhoof to join the Fraser at Prince George. The name comes from the Dakelh (Carrier) term Incha-Khoh meaning "big river." Homesteaders reached the area early in the 20th century; one tiny settlement, Nechacco, took its name from the river. The upper Nechako River was dammed in the early 1950s to provide hydroelectric power to an aluminum smelter owned by Alcan (now Rio Tinto Alcan).
Also see: About the Basin.
The forest industry is an important economic base for communities of the Upper Fraser.
The City of Prince George has 10 sawmills, three pulp mills, wood products manufacturing, bioenergy generation, a refinery, a brewery, chemical plants and diesel locomotive repair shops in its industrial base. The city is a manufacturing centre for the Northern Interior, a staging centre for mining and prospecting, and a hub for trade and government services. The city is also a major transportation centre, located at the junction the Canadian National Railway (CN Rail), the north-south former BC Rail line (now operated by CN Rail) and two interprovincial highways.
The city serves the region through a newly expanded hospital, a regional college, the main campus of the University of Northern British Columbia, and cultural attractions such as museums, an art gallery, professional and amateur theatre and a symphony orchestra.
The terrain and climate in certain parts of the Upper Fraser support agriculture, primarily in the Nechako and Robson Valleys. Tourism, especially outdoor adventure and recreation, plays an increasingly important role in the region.
Sustainability Issues and Indicators
Major sustainability issues in the region include economic diversification, access to health care, Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal relations, creation of transportation links, treaty settlements, flood risks, air quality, forest fires, bioenergy, economic agriculture challenges, mountain pine beetle impacts and proposed pipelines.
Opportunities surfacing in the Upper Fraser include the creation of UNBC’s New North Foundation with the goal of mobilizing research that serves northern communities. Initiatives Prince George also envisions the city as a manufacturing, transportation, supply and service centre, and as an inland gateway to Asia and North America. Establishment of a medical program at UNBC and construction of a cancer clinic in Prince George were key advances for health care in the North.
FBC tracks a number of sustainability indicators across the Fraser Basin. You can find past regional highlights in our 2009 Sustainability Snapshot and in a 2008 regional report Sustainability Snapshot: A Picture of our Region.