Letter to the Editor

Once the wilds are gone, they’re gone Open letter to Dennis Fentie and Archie Lang, re Wind River winter road: As a tourism operator, I feel…

Once the wilds are gone, they’re gone

Open letter to Dennis Fentie and Archie Lang, re Wind River winter road:

As a tourism operator, I feel that my concerns have not been given due consideration in the process with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act board.

As tourism operators, our concerns were simply disregarded.

The Cash Minerals Ltd. submission, Appendix 1, admits that “Route establishment and development of caches could impact the visual quality of the area, in particular along waterways used by wilderness tourists.”

The proposed solution is unacceptable: “Caches…will be set back far enough to limit visibility.”

As wilderness tourism operators, we are already suffering from the increased helicopter traffic and its noise pollution — a type of nuisance that visitors to the area were hoping to escape on their trip into wilderness.

Things will get even worse with the building of unsightly sheds and freshly cut trails visible from the river or during the hikes that are part of any trip to the Wind River.

Our living is directly threatened by the proposed development.

If interests in the balance are being examined, it appears that in order to allow Cash Minerals, a private company, to save some money, existing local businesses will simply and plainly risk being destroyed.

Let’s not camouflage the truth: customers that book a tour for several thousands of dollars expect to get what they are paying for, which is spectacular untouched wilderness.

If this cannot be offered anymore, they are going to spend their money somewhere else.

The tourism sector is highly competitive and most wilderness operators operate with very tight profit margins.

It is extremely difficult to set up a tour that will actually sell, and to bundle together the right pricing, marketing and logistics to make a program viable.

It took a lot of efforts and years to establish the Wind River area as a prime wilderness destination for canoeists and hikers on the Canadian and international market.

Tourism operators cannot simply be told to relocate and to offer a different tour; they would inevitably lose their clientele.

It has to be clear that it is the very economic survival of wilderness tourism operators that use the area that is threatened by this project and this is unacceptable.

On the other hand, this project raises important questions as to the legal process when it comes to land planning in this territory.

I am particularly disturbed by the fact that there is a Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan that is in the process of being drafted.

It might well be that the committee will recommend the creation of a protected zone within the area affected by this winter road.

Allowing such major development in the region before the plan is completed is against its very purpose, and it clearly is not an acceptable way to proceed.

First comes the planning and only then should major developments be considered.

What is happening in the Yukon reminds me of the ways of proceeding in some very undemocratic — sorry to say — Third World countries.

The excuses that the trail to be reopened is an existing “road” and therefore is not a major project does not stand up against the facts.

This trail was cut in 1956 and for 50 years has been very lightly used by outfitters, a few trappers and an even lower number of recreational snowmobilers.

It is overgrown in many parts.

The present use cannot compare with the impact of enlarging and recutting the trail, building ice bridges and shipping huge loads of fuel and supplies to various caches over several months though highly sensitive ecosystems.

The reopening of this winter trail with heavy equipment travelling through sensitive habitats requires an environmental assessment as part on the submission process.

The public and stakeholders cannot make informed comments and decisions in the absence of a study that documents the effect of the project on sensitive habitat and wildlife.

Several ice bridges will have an adverse effect of river flow and fish.

No matter how carefully guidelines are being followed in the construction of an ice bridge, the inevitable result is that this portion of the ice melts slower, creates ice jams that will eventually erode the river banks and affect or destroy fish spawning grounds and small fry.

The effects are much more harmful and dramatic on small or mid-sized rivers.

Again, this project cannot be approved in the absence of an analysis of the effect ice bridges will have on rivers and fish. General statements of goodwill are totally insufficient.

Cash Minerals Ltd. claims “there will be no stripping of the organic layer during road construction…” since they plan on leaving 10 centimetres of snow on the trail.

Anybody slightly familiar with trail cutting equipment will be well aware that the ripping of the ground is inevitable on uneven terrain.

Basically the landscape will be scarred for many hundreds of years to come, and again this should be weighed against the interest of a private company to save some money.

The effects of opening and plowing a winter road on wildlife are well known. For one thing, it allows predators to travel faster and more efficiently and, therefore, to access game wintering areas that would have been more difficult to reach before.

This creates artificial conditions that subject game to increased predation.

On the other hand, access will be facilitated for hunters and recreational motorized users in the summer and in the winter, again exposing game to increased disturbances and hunting pressure.

Cash Minerals Ltd. is again very vague on how it will mitigate these effects.

Will a gate at the beginning of the trail discourage its use by anyone?

This is doubtful. And again, exposing game to stress and increased hunting is not an acceptable outcome of this project.

In an economic and more global perspective, I am convinced that protecting the Peel watershed from development and promoting it for its unique, intact beauty will on the long term result in many more economic benefits for the Yukon than opening it for mining for a few decades and ruining its distinctive character forever.

Yukoners and Canadians don’t always realize the rarity of a spectacular large wilderness in today’s world and how marketable this is.

There is a huge, undeveloped potential in the Yukon, especially in this area, to sell what has become the rarest and most precious commodity on Earth: a largely intact ecosystem that has never been altered by human activity.

This is the future of the economy of the Yukon, not the creation of a wasteland in 50 years, with loads of out-of-work laborers, a polluted environment and no prospect of any viable economy left.

I thank you for your attention and hope that you will take my comments into consideration.

Yasmine Djabri

Faro

Say no to Cash Minerals

I remember a planet that was relatively healthy when I was young (doesn’t everyone else?) a very short time ago.

Even though there were environmental problems seen and unseen, the Earth still had a healthy pulse.

The land, air, and water were much cleaner.

We didn’t have the ozone hole, toxic rain, acid rain, arctic haze, dead zones in our oceans, hundreds of extinctions and this “minor little thing” called climate change.

We acquired these and many more wonderful legacies in the name of “progress” and we will leave them to our children.

All of our “progress” through history has been paid for by the pillage and rape of the natural world.

In the Yukon, we also want progress.

Instead of looking, with open eyes, what we humans have done in other parts of the world and in Canada we are blindly rushing down a track towards a brick wall.

Have we not learned anything?

Just look at what we are doing now in the name of the economy.

This imaginary animal that we keep feeding, at all cost, to maintain our lifestyles.

North American lifestyles are the most decadent on the planet.

We have nothing to complain about if you look at how four billion other people live.

At the worst time possible in the planet’s history, we are in an unprecedented boom.

Open for business!

The mining exploration, new mines and proposals show this.

Cash Minerals is a perfect example.

Its winter road proposal, spur roads and an airstrip into the Wind River are simply to decrease the costs of bringing in its equipment and supplies.

Exploration for uranium, of all things, is surely a sign of an insane society.

The whole environmental cost of mining, the use, and the extreme long-term dangers of uranium waste are well known.

For the past four years, Cash Minerals has been accessing the area by plane. let it continue that method of access.

If it wants a road, why does it need an airstrip? If nothing is found, we are stuck with a road which means easy access to this wild area in the future.

Cash Minerals is an exploration company and will not be responsible for the legacy they leave.

We have more than enough examples of mining companies that rape and run leaving taxpayers holding the bag.

We should ask, “who does it help? Who does it hurt?”

The Yukon is a very special place on the planet with few wild places left.

We should save what is left to save ourselves.

We could be an example for rest of the world.

The planet simply cannot support the world of an ever expanding Gross National Product.

The planet needs a brake, not acceleration of growth.

Accelerated growth simply means an acceleration of climate change.

Climate change is something for which future generations will not be grateful.

Think about it. Good planets are hard to find!

Richard Oziewicz

Teslin

Thank you, Samaritans

I sincerely thank some Marsh Lake residents who assisted me during my accident on the early morning of December 28.

While on my way to work, I lost control of my 2005 Ford pickup. The truck veered off to the opposite side of the highway and onto the embankment.

Luckily Karen Carrierre, Fred (manager of Superstore) and the gentleman in the white pickup (sorry I didn’t get your name), stopped to help me out.

They were at my aid until medical professionals arrived.

Thank you so much for helping a frightened young woman.

I would also like to extend my thanks to Fire Chief Jurgen Willms and the Marsh Lake Fire Rescue, the paramedics and the kind nurses at WGH.

I’m very fortunate I was not killed on that day, and my injuries only resulted in a broken sternum and multiple cuts and bruises.

My temporary incapabilities remind me to thank my family for their patience and support, and to Neil the handyman of Marsh Lake for plowing my driveway.

My sincere thanks.

Michelle Swim

Whitehorse, YT

Trapping is cruel

Trapping season is upon animals.

Snares, leghold traps and body-crushing Conibear  traps are used to destroy the lives of animals for their fur!

Traps are not selective. Many so-called “non-target” animals may also fall victim to these traps. These animals may include coyotes, fox, bears, eagles, ravens, family companion animals, etc.

Born Free USA united with the Animal Protection Institute has a documented thoroughly comprehensive review of scientific literature that trapped animals may suffer severe physical injury, psychological trauma, thirst, hypothermia and predation.

They may remain in traps for days or longer before dying or being killed — often by bludgeoning so as not to damage the animals’ pelts.

Trapping is cruel and unnecessary, and causes horrible deaths for millions of animals each year.

There is no place for trapping in a “civilized” world — a cruel occupation that must be abolished.

Please visit www.bancrueltraps.com.

Mike Grieco

Whitehorse

Obstacle

I would like to know who’s great idea it was to put a box in our way on the Handy Bus?

It makes it harder to get on the Handy Bus with that box in the way … Isn’t amazing how these able bodied management come up with these ideas!

We have needs to be met but no, whatever so and so says we have to have their way even though it makes it tough on us.

We are humans!

Judi Johnny

Whitehorse

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