The Peel: when
it’s gone, it’s gone
Having been fortunate to live in the Yukon for the last 15 years and able to raise our family here, we have also each been able to access the Peel drainage via both the Snake and Wind Rivers.
We consider these rivers to be unique and spectacular wilderness areas, definitely world class and certainly worthy of maintaining in their present state.
Allowing the winter road proposed by Cash Minerals will ultimately open this area to increased human intrusion, probably by motor vehicles.
With it will come attendant environmental damage, pollution and interruption of the life cycles of the animal populations.
This area is so precious and special that it should be preserved for future generations; we would like our children to access this special place in its natural state.
Cash Minerals may not find anything worthy of a mine.
Presently, it is able to fly in supplies, as we observed this summer and even that generated a great deal of noise and disturbance.
Allowing a winter road in order to add a few extra dollars to its corporate bottom line and that of other corporations by saving transportation costs is a lousy deal for wilderness travellers and hunters who value the Wind River corridor and who travel to the Yukon from all over North America and Europe.
It’s also a lousy deal for all Yukoners who will lose a place of unparalleled natural beauty.
When it’s gone, it’s gone for good; for all of us.
This also raises questions about the fairness of the free-entry mining system with respect to access and exploitation rights in natural areas of high value.
Why do mining corporations determine the value of our lands and have pre-eminent rights compared to the public in whose name the lands are held?
We urge the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board and the Yukon government to apply the same foresight, vision and commitment to the natural world that other governments have demonstrated in preserving areas such as Banff, Jasper, Ivvavik and the Nahanni River and reject this proposed road.
Scott Henderson, Deb Gohl
The Yukon Chamber of Mines would like to clarify several misleading points regarding proposed usage of the existing Wind River Trail by Cash Minerals to access several exploration projects in the Wernecke Mountains area.
In particular we would like to respond to issues raised in the commentary section of Wednesday’s Yukon News.
This article suggests that all land-use decisions should be deferred until an approved land-use plan has been completed.
This would amount to a moratorium on any activities in the Peel River watershed, effectively resulting in interim protection of this area.
At present, a draft of this plan is not expected until December 2008.
The Yukon Chamber of Mines supports the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act and the associated board as an objective vehicle for assessing potential usages of public lands, including mining and mineral exploration.
This act and the board were implemented several years ago to deal with all forms of land usage, and have worked effectively in assessing validity of potential projects.
To state that this is a “perverse resource development process” suggests the entire assessment act process territory-wide is “perverse,” and could be construed as an insult to the process and its participants, who have provided huge amounts of time and effort into ensuring a balanced, fair and objective process for the use of public lands.
Although the Yukon Chamber of Mines strongly supports the process of public commentary, it would like to emphasis that the outcome is not based on a well orchestrated campaign by special interest groups, both local and international, but by a legislated, comprehensive process.
Some other points require clarification:
This is a proposal to use the existing Wind River Trail, first constructed in the 1950s, so that, during winter conditions, it would be possible to vastly offset the amount of helicopter and fixed-wing activity in the area.
A total of 179 kilometres of existing trail would be utilized, with an additional 23 kilometres of spur road to one of the project sites.
The proposal doesn’t call for an “industrial road,” merely the usage of an existing trail.
The environmental footprint of this approach would actually be decreased, as opposed to alternatives, in the form of reduced carbon emissions contributing to climate change.
The actual project areas to be explored (not the subject of this application) are located a considerable distance from water courses.
This project is a necessary component of Yukon’s exploration industry as a great many prospects must be evaluated to result in a single mine.
Any exploration proposal would include reclamation activities on the “large industrial footprint” created by exploration.
At this point, these are exploration projects only.
Yukoners support protection of the environment; however, many do not do so by the exclusion of all resource-based activities.
A recent survey indicated that Yukoners overwhelmingly support resource development (Datapath, 2005).
Many Yukoners have livelihoods dependent on resource-based industries and will support those industries, provided activities take place in a responsible manner.
The Yukon Chamber of Mines does not support irresponsible activity; however it does demand an objective process respecting the rule of law regarding resource-based activities on Yukon’s public lands.
The process is established through the assessment act and must be respected.
Carl Schulze, president, Yukon Chamber of Mines, Whitehorse