A real Yukoner responds

A real Yukoner responds Re: Leave the Peel for Real Yukoners (Nov. 30) I was glad to read that Karen Simon considers the use of fossil fuels when planning a wilderness trip. I think about that, too, when going for a hike. I have big country to walk thro

Re: Leave the Peel for Real Yukoners (Nov. 30)

I was glad to read that Karen Simon considers the use of fossil fuels when planning a wilderness trip. I think about that, too, when going for a hike. I have big country to walk through right outside my door, so I don’t need to drive to Kluane National Park or even Grey Mountain.

However, I don’t begrudge others their holidays in our territory. That’s how I ended up here myself. I went on a guided rafting trip down the Tatshenshini and, within a year, I’d come back to stay.

The guides on that trip, and other local guides I’ve gotten to know since moving here, do an excellent job of teaching clients about no-trace camping. Yes, you do see the occasional fire ring and the occasional toilet paper (minor, and temporary, eyesores compared to mining waste), but all in all I’ve been amazed at how pristine the landscape remains despite hundreds of paddlers and hikers travelling through each season. Even traveling the relatively busy Yukon River is a wonderful wilderness experience. I’ve never run into other parties on a daily basis, as you reported.

But wait a minute. Let me get this straight. You spoke to an acquaintance who had friends who paddled the Wind River. So your impressions are third hand? That doesn’t make for a very reliable picture of the truth.

And poor David Suzuki. You sure give him a hard time, calling his opinions drivel and suggesting that he might have fished without a license. People can disagree without insulting each other. You mentioned his disappointment in the numbers of animals he saw. I’ve heard this disappointment expressed by other visitors too. You can hardly blame them. They’ve seen pictures of the Porcupine caribou herd and have been enticed by Yukon tourism ads featuring photos of moose and bears.

A tourist I met said, “I only saw one moose,” and a wise Yukoner replied, “Oh, you were so lucky to have seen a moose.” We can help visitors gain a more realistic perspective on the potential frequency of wildlife encounters without blaming them for chasing the animals away.

Now, I must question your economic analysis of the situation. You claim that tourists bring groceries from Vancouver. How would they do that? Have you not seen the heavily loaded grocery carts being pushed by tourism outfitters and outdoorsy looking visitors through local grocery stores all summer?

And you talk about miners spending their paycheques locally but fail to mention that the many Yukoners who work in tourism are shopping right beside them. You suggest that visitors only buy a beer and a bumper sticker at the end of their trips, but economic statistics would prove that idea to be far from the case.

Where you are terribly mistaken, though, is in your statement that this whole argument is about the mining sector’s and the tourism sector’s bottom lines. You say, “Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all about wilderness.”

And yet, Karen, it is about wilderness. Like you, I have also never been to the Peel River area and have never seen those remote landscapes. I’ve never seen the inside of my own body either, but I do everything I can to keep it healthy, undamaged and toxin-free. Working to protect the Peel watershed is my way of showing the same respect and concern for the health of the planet that I do for my own.

By the way, what’s a real Yukoner?

Dianne Homan

Whitehorse