Letter to the Editor

Backcountry follies Re Yukon Outfitters Association ad (The News, April 18): Every so often you come across something that’s such an easy…

Backcountry follies

Re Yukon Outfitters Association ad (The News, April 18):

Every so often you come across something that’s such an easy target you think, “You really shouldn’t shoot at that.” And then you go “ah, what the hell, and don’t hold the vitriol.”

Of course I’m referring to the ad that the Yukon Outfitters Association ran in Wednesday’s Yukon News, trying to justify the construction of a large camp on the Bonnet Plume River.

For those who didn’t see the ad, it was a puff piece essentially saying that, ‘ah shucks, outfitters have been around a long time and just want to be regular guys like trappers and miners.’

Without wasting sarcasm on each issue, let’s skip to the concluding sentence, which stated: “We are not asking for carte blanche in the Yukon bush … (and we want) the ability to carry on our business safely and in a manner that reflects well on the Yukon.”

Let’s reflect on what’s been reported in the media. Allegedly this case involved the construction of considerable infrastructure without authorization or permitting.

No consideration was given for impacts on other users of the wilderness, First Nations interests or public use.

An entire year’s worth of a mining company’s drilling program was dumped on the ground.

And let’s not forget that the Bonnet Plume is a Canadian Heritage River.

Rather than reflecting well on the Yukon, if these allegations were true the actions would speak of an incredible sense of entitlement and arrogance.

In fact, it sounds an awful lot like somebody wanting carte blanche in the bush.

All the warm, fuzzy down-home sensibilities in the outfitters’ ad are negated by what is reported to have actually taken place.

The irony is that it’s inconsiderate actions of this nature that lead to regulation. If everybody played nice, we’d need less government intervention.

Of course maybe we shouldn’t expect actions of this nature to “reflect(s) well on the Yukon” when the outfitter in question is from Alberta.

I would sincerely hope that other outfitters, including the ones who signed the ad, are wincing with embarrassment and hoping this mess goes away.

It’s unlikely to, as word on the street indicates a surprising diversity of the Yukon public is quietly waiting to see what happens.

The government has to be well aware of that fact.

Charles McLaren

Whitehorse

Smart-aleck pundit

Re The Green-Grit Alliance: run left, govern right? (The News, April 16):

I am, I confess, not a habitual reader of your column. It is, by and large, a little too smug for my taste, and not, even though it proclaims to be, an insight into anything.

Your last contribution regarding the “Green-Grit alliance” was on par with the quality of the few pieces I have read over the years.

Usually, I refrain from commenting at all, but this time I felt compelled to say something in response to your cavalier use of the body bag image.

I can’t say if the “sudden rush of body bags” may actually “overwhelm the Conservatives” and “drive them back to Alberta” (I was under the impression that Conservatives were allowed to live anywhere in Canada) but I can say with certainty that the image you chose for effect (your writer’s vanity, I presume) is not only used up, it is also extremely offensive.

You see, smart use of language is one thing. Forgetting how to show and convey proper respect is something else altogether.

The “body bags,” which you so eloquently refer to, contain the remains of the soldiers who died while doing a job for all of us, including yourself.

They did so because they believed in what their country was asking them to do. To casually reduce them to a bag, which contains their remains for the purpose of cheap effect is undignified.

It tells me that you are just a smart-aleck and you will use anything to aggrandize yourself without consideration for others.

I guess I understand now why I am not a regular reader of your work.

Brend Schmidt

Whitehorse

Death of a friend

On Sunday night April 15, our family dog was killed in front of our home by a hit-and-run driver on Denver Road at McCrae.

He assumed we were not home. He assumed she was dead. He assumed no one saw his truck not stop when he killed Freya, our two-year-old healthy and beautiful German Sheppard dog.

He assumed he could avoid us and not deal with us. When confronted after five attempts to “catch” him at his home, he showed no remorse for the pain he caused all of us.

The dog was left as she was hit for the family to find after a search for her.

This man avoided coming from his place to ours to tell us where she was and that she was fatally wounded. He did say and I quote: “I tried to call.”

 He didn’t have the decency to leave a message, the decency to stop, the decency to avoid our daughters seeing our beloved dogs’ mangled body still warm from the accident.

This man told me to write a list of how I want things to be done and how people should act.

Well here is my list:

Common decency.

Laurie Jonasson

Whitehorse

Urges wolf kill

I have made several trips by snowmobile to the backcountry on a local lake within the last two months and have come across six deer carcasses and two moose carcasses all within an area of 30 kilometres.

All these animals were killed by wolves.  So, needless to say, how many carcasses are in the bush that can’t be seen?

I have spent considerable amount of time on this particular lake. Over the years, there was one area you could go to and have no problem seeing at least 20 moose, and a well-used game trail from sheep crossing the valley to the next mountain.

You go there now and there are no moose, and the sheep trails are mossy. Obviously, these trails are not being used anymore.

And, no, the animals have not changed routes, they’re just not there.

I firmly believe that this is all due to the over abundance of wolves. If you think the moose have just moved on that is not so, moose are territorial animals and they have definitely not disappeared from over-hunting as this is a permit zone.

I believe the estimated count for the Yukon is 5,000 wolves. If that’s the case, then there are 1,000 packs of wolves, as there are usually five to seven animals in a pack.

Just one pack of wolves will take down a moose every four to five days or two deer, two caribou, plus sheep and other game here and there.

I am a firm believer that the Yukon game branch should implement an incentive to harvest wolves, and change the current allowable three wolves to unlimited.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the wolves should be wiped out to the point of extinction but they definitely need to be controlled.

How can you say that there are only 5,000 wolves currently in the Yukon? There are usually four pups born into the pack yearly, and if even only one survives that’s an increase of one thousand wolves each year.

Being a long-time Yukon hunter, I am sure this is grossly underestimated.

I find this very alarming and so should all Yukon hunters.

Steve Sutherland

Whitehorse

Don’t let greed

wreck the Peel

Re Oil and Gas Posting Request, “We want to hear from you”:

Thank you.

I strongly object to the Peel Plateau being opened for oil and gas development.

Not that I am against drilling for oil and gas or mining for minerals per se, but it matters to me where it’s done and there are places where you just don’t go — because it’s precious, because you’re respectful and because you think of the world you’d like your grandchildren to grow up in.

The Peel watershed is just such a place, representing some of the best of what’s left.

I’m concerned about this posting because of its intrusion into the Peel watershed. With infrastructure reaching this far and given our government’s ‘business as usual’ attitude towards non-renewable resource extraction, the stage is set for further industrial incursions and this could, in the future, lead to widespread industrialization of the greater Peel watershed.

This, of course, depends on oil, gas and mineral prices, project viability etc., but the chance of fragmented landscapes, polluted rivers and declining fish and wildlife populations is very real.

Multiple use, as proposed for the watershed by the Peel Planning Commission, usually leads to multiple abuse.

In their statement of intent the commission writes: “The long term objective is to return all lands to their natural state as development activities are completed.”

However well intended this may be, it has little connection with reality. Some of the mining projects, which have been mentioned are on such a massive scale that they would mar the landscape forever.

Last summer I canoed the Bonnet Plume, a river of exceptional beauty and designated a Canadian Heritage River.

However, passing the mining exploration camp along the Bonnet in the northern Wernecke Mountains, my sense of being on a remote river came to an abrupt halt with the constant buzzing of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft — exploring for minerals such as copper and uranium,

I was told. The river’s heritage status does not preclude mining but does require a “higher duty of care.”

In the Bonnet Plume Canadian Heritage River Management Plan (1998), I read that: “the mining community is not opposed to Canadian Heritage River Status provided it does not create additional rules which limit their exploration and development rights.”

It seems to me to be a contradiction to allow activities, which would degrade the very criteria for which the river was nominated — a toothless designation if ever there was one.

Later, I met a coalminer-hopeful about to embark for the Wind River with enough claim posts that he could have built a cabin.

I sensed the excitement in his voice when he told me that there are 3,000 mining claims in the Bonnet Plume. Remember to take good care…!

The Three Rivers area in the Peel watershed with its awe-inspiring mountain landscapes, clear, clean waters and abundant wildlife populations represents a magnificent national treasure of global significance which every Canadian should be proud exists.

It is difficult to imagine any other place in the northern hemisphere where we have such a large-scale opportunity to protect, for all time, a diverse and intact ecosystem.

A recent report, The Real Wealth of the Mackenzie Region by Canadian Boreal Initiative, estimates the ecological goods and services provided by nature in the Mackenzie watershed to almost $450 billion.

That is 10 times the total economic value generated by natural capital extraction industries and other activities within the watershed.

The value of ecological goods and services such as carbon storage, climate regulation, water filtration and supply, wildlife habitat and recreational benefits, does not appear on Canada’s national balance sheet or contribute to our gross domestic product, the conventional measure of economic progress.

This evaluation is not intended to undervalue the resource potential, but rather to temper its value in a broader sustainability context.

The report demonstrates the need to balance broader ecosystem and cultural values with sustainable economic growth.

In this day and age when all the red lights are flashing, warning us that we are exceeding the Earth’s capacity to cope with us and our wasteful habits, there is little vision in adding to the brew by sacrificing the Peel watershed for relatively short-term financial gain for the few while leaving future generations with a ravaged landscape and a toxic legacy.

The numerous acid-leaching mine sites in the NWT are a stark reminder of the latter.

Our aim should be to build healthy communities based on a sustainable foundation, something resource extraction cannot do.

I urge all patriotic Yukoners to get involved and help defend our territory against our government’s peculiar desire to rape our wildlands (leave your guns at home, please).

Deadline for comments on the oil and gas posting requests is April 27.

Jannik Schou

Submitted through e-mail