This summer, I floated the Wind River with a group of friends.
My letter is not about the Peel Watershed though, as important as that issue is.
On my trip, the most striking, and alarming, thing that I saw occurred during the first hour of it.
In Mayo, we boarded a floatplane, which flew us northeast past Keno and Elsa and then into a large “roadless” area.
Only it wasn’t roadless.
There were dirt roads and trails everywhere. A veritable spiderweb of them.
We also saw countless test pits, areas cleared for helicopters to land, abandoned fuel barrels and garbage caches.
It was heartbreaking.
Two of our group were visitors from Manitoba and I found myself, as a Yukoner, feeling embarrassed at the state of our wilderness.
It took 45 minutes of flying to reach an area that had only winter roads.
We never reached an actual roadless area.
What our group observed that day to some extent reflects Yukon’s history of mining and mining exploration. It also reflects Yukon’s dearth of laws to protect the environment.
Many of those trails, even if originally built by miners and prospectors, are now being “maintained” by ATV users.
On the upside, it is obvious there are more than enough trails now for off-road riders.
We don’t need any more.
What Yukon does need is laws to regulate ATVs and other off-road vehicles. We have an election coming up.
Voters: please let the candidates vying for your vote know that this is an issue that matters to you.