Seeing through the smoke

Seeing through the smoke Re letter from Bruce Binder, Community Service's disservice (the News, March 10): We are Source Motors Ltd. and we are currently doing the work for the YTG contract for the clearing and grubbing of the Willow Acres Subdivision ex

Re letter from Bruce Binder, Community Service’s disservice (the News, March 10):

We are Source Motors Ltd. and we are currently doing the work for the YTG contract for the clearing and grubbing of the Willow Acres Subdivision expansion in Haines Junction.

We read with dismay the inaccurate and disparaging remarks put forward by the uninformed and ignorant individual who made many errors and inaccurate accusations relating to this job and we feel we must write in order to inform the public as to the actual facts of the matter.

This is our first clearing contract and we are proud of the method we chose to do the job. We are also proud of the work being done by our local workforce on site. There is nothing “reckless” being done; it is all within surveyed boundaries which were part of the YESAB screening. If Bruce Binder had concerns he could have voiced them at the point of the YESAB screening. The project is necessary as there are currently no building lots available in Haines Junction.

Binder refers to “reckless bulldozing.” There isn’t even a bulldozer on site. The fact is that the land is being cleared with an excavator, not a bulldozer; they are two completely different methods and equipment. The trees are basically being plucked from the ground and the topsoil is even being saved Ð one of the many conditions in the contract. If Binder has a more ecological method of extracting the trees, I’m sure the government would be very interested to listen. Our machinery is small and fuel efficient and we would be willing to say there probably hasn’t been a more ecological clearing contract completed in the Yukon.

The total area to be cleared for this project is 13 hectares; not the “two or three hectares” Binder reports. It is a dense forest of poplar and willows.

There is no “burning of the overburden.” The only material being burned are the willows and sticks that are too small to salvage. The salvageable wood is being stacked and is available to the public. More than five cords have already been removed by locals. Less than .005 per cent of the trees are suitable for firewood. Perhaps Binder should inform his neighbour, who burns wood Ð unless the neighbour’s reckless burning of wood for heat is also offensive. Perhaps that is the wood smell he is encountering. (I wonder how Binder heats his house?)

Regarding the health problems that Binder said have occurred because of the smoke in the air, we need to clear that up right away. He did not even research that fact; two members of our own family have asthma and suffered no ill effects from any burning related to this project. We called the Health Centre to inquire as to how many residents they had to treat or transport to the hospital as a direct result of the burning and we were told that they could not and would not give us that information.

Binder also says, “What money the Yukon government is saving with this wanton lack of consideration for the health of the citizens of Haines Junction, the citizens will be paying for in health problems.” The government isn’t saving money; the costs of the development of the lots are added to the cost of the lots when sold to the public.

He also suggests chipping the nonsalvageable wood. There currently isn’t a chipper of the size necessary for such large quantities available in the Yukon Ð so the cost of shipping it up here and the cost of the fuel to run it (notwithstanding the pollution to the air from the exhaust from the chipper and trucks) would make the cost of the lots even higher. Then some of the work would be going Outside the territory, not staying local.

Binder also refers to the Firesmart program. He says, “The fresh air and vistas in the Junction are continually being obliterated by the Yukon government either by the so-called Firesmart program or by the clearing of highway right-of-ways.” Now he is against protecting the community by means of the Firesmart program? Has he ever attended any public meetings dedicated to the program to register his concerns? The Firesmart program has been in operation in Haines Junction since 2001, not the 12 years that he claims. How many letters of protest has he lodged? Part of the benefit of Firesmart is the community looks better by clearing the deadfall and dead trees out of the forest floor.

He also stated that the polluting began last Thursday, when in fact the burning for Firesmart began in November 2009. Our project burning began February 17, 2010; we discontinued burning March 1 to March 5 and then resumed on March 6. We will continue to burn until the end of the allotted burning time as per the contract.

He also states that he could not fulfil a photographic contract that was commissioned by the Village of Haines Junction due to the smoke. If he had done his research, again he would have realized his ignorance. The Village of Haines Junction requested we discontinue burning for one week while the National Film Board was in town filming a new video for Tourism. We were happy to oblige. If Binder had contacted the Village of Haines Junction it might have been suggested that he do the photography that same week. But he obviously didn’t.

We just want to clear up the misconceptions spouted in Binder’s letter. Next time he should get his facts straight before climbing on his soapbox and ranting. Not very environmentally conscious of him to waste the paper it was printed on.


Thomas and Lynn Eckervogt

Haines Junction