The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board recommended against an oat farm near Twin Lakes.
“It is determined that the project is likely to have significant adverse environmental and socio-economic effects in or outside Yukon that cannot be mitigated,” reads the 48-page decision, posted to the YESAB website on July 6.
The proposed development would have covered roughly 80 acres off the Klondike Highway, 43 kilometres south of Carmacks. It was located within 200 metres of Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation (LSCFN) Settlement Land.
YESAB’s recommendation cites adverse effects on environmental quality, wildlife habitat, heritage resources and traditional land use.
Among these, it says that a number of LSCFN traditional trails cross the application area.
“The fencing proposed by this application blocks some of these LSCFN trails and is in breach of the LSCFN Final Agreement, which assures the continued right of access along traditional routes,” reads the recommendation.
The fencing was initially proposed as a way to reduce wildlife conflict, particularly with elk and deer, both of which may be attracted to oats. However, YESAB found the fence is a barrier to wildlife movement, including for moose, which use this area as a migration corridor to access wintering and calving zones.
YESAB also said fencing can result in wildlife injury or death if there are collisions or entanglements.
The fencing itself, as well as its impact on wildlife movement, will also affect Carmacks residents who hunt, fish and collect medicinal plants in the region.
The report goes on to cite two rare plant species found within a few hundred metres of the proposed farm. These include Yukon Goldenweed and Siberian Wormwood.
The report further highlights the farm’s proposed annual use of RoundUp. This is something many Carmacks residents commented on during the comment period. While RoundUp is legal to use in the Yukon and Canada, some countries (and parts of Canada) began to limit its use after the World Health Organization classified glyphosate (its active ingredient) as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
“Given the project’s vicinity to the rare species (Goldenwood and Wormwood), areas that contain medicinal and berry plants harvested by numerous First Nations, and the likelihood of pollinators such as bees inhabiting the area, the potential for even small amounts of herbicide to be deposited outside of the project area, the potential adverse effects from the use of Roundup is considered significant. Moreover, these effects cannot be adequately mitigated,” says the recommendation.
The report also says the project area is of high cultural value to the LSCFN. It says YESAB took a holistic approach to looking at the connected nature of traditional and cultural land use by the First Nation, including trail access, harvesting, potential nearby archaeological sites and the relationship LSCFN has with the land.
“The project represents a permanent disposition of 80 acres of land from traditional and cultural pursuits and will directly and indirectly have adverse effects to harvesting, use of Settlement Land, heritage values and sense of place values,”the report says.
The Yukon government is the decision body on the project. It will review the recommendation and decide whether to accept, reject or amend the recommendation.
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