Local and low impact tourism

Summer is finally here and no doubt many a Yukon resident is gearing up to receive southern visitors.

Summer is finally here and no doubt many a Yukon resident is gearing up to receive southern visitors.

While they will hopefully be going off camping, canoeing and hiking there will be days when they will be hanging around the house and it will be the duty of the Yukon host to find activities for them to do.

No doubt an attempt will be made to minimize their ecological footprint and ensure they try and do ecologically correct things.

After all, they have to compensate for all the greenhouse gas emissions they released to get here.

Just to be clear, their mode of transportation (be it bus, plane or car) burnt a lot of fossil fuels to get them here, and that is the cause of the vast majority of the greenhouse gases.

It is not the actual individuals themselves.

If they are in the Whitehorse region there are quite a few groups offering guided walks and hikes.

These sort of events are not only good for them in the form of gentle exercise but it is also good for the planet in that they are low-impact events.

One of the groups offering such an activity is the Yukon Conservation Society. It offers guided nature interpretation hikes in the Whitehorse area.

Another is the Yukon Historical and Museums Association. It sponsors historical walking tours of downtown Whitehorse.

Check with the organizations directly for the time and type of activity.

Another good source of information to see which group is offering what is the Yukon Visitor Reception Centre.

Should the southern guests be more inclined to explore on two wheels as opposed to two legs bicycles can be rented from some Whitehorse businesses in town.

In addition, Phillipe Bicycle Repair offers the purple bike initiative for those visitors who might be staying for longer than a few days and need a bike to get around town.

The way it works is the customer leases a second-hand purple bike for $100 to $150 depending on the quality of bike.

When they return it at the end of the summer Phillipe gives back half the amount.

One destination visitors should experience is the Fireweed Farmers Market.

Held in Shipyards Park on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. it is a great place to purchase locally produced food and crafts.

Visitors will be impressed with what the Yukon can and does produce food wise.

Local food is usually much better from an environmental perspective than food grown far away.

Compare potatoes grown locally versus those grown in Prince Edward Island.

The local spuds have not been trucked across the continent and thus are not responsible for greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels used to power the truck.

Most farmers market food does not necessarily make a good souvenir, mainly because it is usually so yummy it ends up getting eating prior to being given as a gift to someone down south.

And besides, while local potatoes are great they are not necessarily a good gift for someone expecting something from the land of the midnight sun.

But this column is pleased to announce that there will be a Yukon style gift that is small, light and might be appreciated when attached to something.

Canada Post is releasing a stamp on July 6 that features Watson Lake’s Sign Post Forest.

It is part of a roadside attractions series.

Stamps could be considered somewhat environmentally friendly, as they are awfully small and do not use much in the way of resources to make.

Even better, if they are sent to a stamp collector they will be added to a collection and no resources will be required to recycle or compost them.

Other stamps being released on July 6 include ones that feature the Vegreville Egg, the Hay River Inukshuk and the Prince George giant log statue known as Mr. PG.

The stamp featuring the Watson Lake Sign Post Forest is one of the lower-cost tourist souvenirs around these days.

That postcard to friends and relatives down south can now have a cheap, cheerful and low impact souvenir attached to it that celebrates part of the glorious roadside heritage that makes the Yukon so interesting.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse based part-time environmentalist.