Protected wetlands can still be drilled for oil

Oil and gas developers can tap resources beneath protected wetlands south of Carmacks, according to a ministerial order passed last month.

Oil and gas developers can tap resources beneath protected wetlands south of Carmacks, according to a ministerial order passed last month.

The Nordenskiold Wetland Habitat Protection Area, a 78-square-kilometre wetlands in central Yukon, had its protection from oil and gas development removed by Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Patrick Rouble on August 2.

That’s because resource extraction can still take place if directional drilling is used, said Nancy Campbell, an Environment Department spokesperson.

“You can still come at it from the sides without disturbing the surface,” said Campbell.

The area is a long strip of wetlands on the sides of the Nordenskiold River, parallel to the Klondike Highway between Carmacks and Whitehorse. It’s 30 kilometres long, but only 2.5 kilometres wide.

The wetlands have long provided First Nations with moose, ducks and duck eggs, muskrat and salmon, says a government news release from August 3.

“We are pleased to see the ‘breadbasket’ for our citizens protected because it is rich in wildlife and fish for traditional harvesting,” said Environment Minister John Edzerza in the release.

It’s known as a breeding area for ducks, swans and geese.

The wetlands remain protected from quartz, placer and coal mining, which can’t be done without damaging the surface, said Campbell.

She didn’t know if oil and gas exploration would require damaging the surface.

The protected area is the fourth created by the Yukon government since land claims agreements were signed. The region has had interim protection since 1995.

The Yukon government and the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation have created a management plan, it just hasn’t been signed yet.

“They’ve been a little distracted,” said Campbell.

Chief Eddie Skookum is still weathering the storm over his reckless endangerment conviction in Alaska earlier this month.

But even if the wetlands is open for drilling, there is little chance the place will be developed, said Campbell.

She spoke to a biologist with expertise on the Nordenskiold, who told her there is little oil and gas potential in the area, she said Thursday.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read