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Winter Road Proposal for Peel River Watershed and Yukon Three Rivers Area

by admin ~ November 16th, 2007

CPAWS looks at long term planning and conservation proposals, and reminds members of Dec. 10, 2007, deadline for public comments on Cash Minerals land use application with Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.

Public comments needed by December 10, 2007 (extended twice from Nov. 20).

A mining company plans to bulldoze winter roads into the heart of the Yukon’s Three Rivers wilderness. This plan to save cash on a highly speculative uranium exploration play pre-empts the land use planning process and jeopardizes the future of the Three Rivers. Due to the extreme hazards of radioactive wastes from uranium mining, many jurisdictions have imposed moratoriums on uranium mining. In the Yukon, there has been no public debate on the impacts uranium mining.

On October 24, Vancouver-based Cash Minerals submitted plans to build a 289 km network of winter roads into and along the Wind River to access their multiple uranium claims in the Wind and Bonnet Plume watersheds. The Bonnet Plume is a designated Canadian Heritage River; the Wind River is one of the North’s finest wilderness watersheds supporting existing tourism businesses. For the past several years the mining company has used airstrips for access. Now they want to bulldoze winter roads along the valley bottoms and build a new airstrip beside the Wind River. The proposal will save the company some cash, while the public will be left to deal with the long term environmental fall-out.

Take action!

Submit your comments on this land use permit application to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) by December 10, 2007. You can make comments online on the YESAB site. Just go to project 2007-0205, Wernecke Winter Road Access Project, Cash Minerals.

Updates and Information:

6 Responses to Winter Road Proposal for Peel River Watershed and Yukon Three Rivers Area

  1. Anonymous

    Spoke to management today. Apparently they are not bulldozing any new roads; only using existing ones.

  2. admin

    The YESAB submission calls for winter road construction on the existing Wind River Trail, the creation of new spur roads (up to 23 kilometers in length), the widening of the Wind River Trail to accommodate fixed-winged air access, and the construction of snow or ice bridges on some of the larger stream crossings.

    According to page 6 of the YESAB submission: “Road construction is scheduled to begin mid-January and will involve using two dozers. One of the dozers will pull a mobile bunk-house which will provide sleeping and cooking facilities for the construction crew. It is anticipated that construction will take up to four weeks.”

    The CPAWS Yukon statement could be more clear about the current road construction proposal and its relationship to existing trails (namely, the “Wind River Trail”). In their background material (which they link to in their post) they write: “A Wind River winter road was built illegally for mining exploration in the late 1950s, and the scars are still evident today. Cash Minerals plans to use this old trail, and therefore is saying that the proposed new road is just an upgrade of the existing one. But much of the old trail is overgrown and the proposed winter road would open up new motorized access.” I’ve changed my post title to better reflect some of these comments.

    Many thanks for your input, and please feel free to provide any additional materials for clarity or new information if you feel it is necessary. For further information about the Cash Minerals proposal, you can download the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board submission below:

    Cash Minerals Winter Road Proposal (YESAB submission, 5.4 Mb, PDF)

  3. J. Carlson

    The mining industry in general does not respect the environment just by the fact of what they do.

    If we, the human race, do not take the initiative to salvage and protect our “special areas in nature” there will not be anything left for our grandchildren.

  4. R. Sabo

    After reading this article, I was initially very shocked. The Three Rivers Watershed is home to many different flora and fauna. This is one of the few places left in the Yukon where animals may take refuge from the influx of tourists during the summer and other industrial savvy operations. These watersheds are also involved with the distribution of nutrients throughout the area. Now one might think that this isn’t a problem, but I, along with many others, have seen how careless many companies are when considering their ecological impact on the environment. Some examples might be widening the roads a little more than planned, pushing a little extra soil into the rivers (thereby altering the rivers composition), or being careless about waste disposal. The fact that the company plans to save money is a good indicator that they plan to store most of the waste ‘off the record’ and transport a small amount out of the area to keep the government happy. Uranium has many serious effects on the DNA of all living things by altering certain important proteins which would result in changes of physical evolution. Uranium has a half-life of 4.6 billion years which means that it is very radioactive in the early years. There are fours types of uranium mining, open pit, underground, leaching and borehole mining. All of these have a significant impact both on the air (due to rainwater reacting with the uranium) and on the land itself. Here is an interesting and valid fact from Wikipedia:

    “Radioactive contamination may also be ingested as the result of eating contaminated plants and animals or drinking contaminated water or milk from exposed animals.”

    Many First Nations and other hunters who live in the vicinity of these lands rely on the abundance of healthy animals who migrate in and out of the area. There are also many canoe and kayak enthusiasts who would prefer not to have to ingest potentially harmful water which would result in the radiation poisoning of many glands including the thyroid (important in maintaining a good immune system). This company that is based out of Vancouver has plans to come and potentially destroy a part of the Yukon which we have protected so long and have spent so much time monitoring the tourism outfitters who travel through. So why should we let the idea of money make us change our decisions? People say that money talks, but when there is nothing left to talk over, what worth will money have then? I believe that companies should invest their hard-earned money into researching new ways of providing renewable energy resources so we can preserve the ecosystems such as the Three Rivers Wilderness for later generations to enjoy as well.

  5. admin

    The Mayo Designate Office made its recommendation on the Wernecke Winter Road Access Project on Dec. 24, 2007. They recommended approval of the project with over 45 required measures for the mitigation of environmental and socio-economic impacts. You can download the full evaluation report here: “YESAA Designated Office Evaluation Report” (PDF). Future press reports will be updated in the information section of this post.

  6. mayo resident

    I can’t believe the misleading comments made by cpaws. it leads me to believe that they must not tell the truth of any projects that they comment on. To say that this winter trail was built illegally is so far from the truth as well as saying that it is overgrown is such a huge exaggeration.

    I have been on that trail for several years on a skidoo and yet have to see it overgrow. how many of you people have actually been there most likely none of you. so would be nice to see the truth be told at some point.