Ts'alwnjik Chu, a 30-kilometre-long stretch of wetland along the Nordenskiold River near Carmacks, has been formally designated a Habitat Protection Area (HPA).
"The Yukon government is pleased to honour its obligation under the Little Salmon/Carmacks Final Agreement to establish this HPA for the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat," Environment Minister John Edzerza said.
Michael Vance, the director of Lands and Resources with the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation said, "We are pleased to see the 'breadbasket' for our citizens protected because it is rich in wildlife and fish for traditional harvesting."
The management plan for the 78 km² HPA will see both governments working together on ways to encourage public awareness of and appreciation for the HPA's natural resources, such as wildlife viewing and archaeological investigations. The plan was developed in consultation with Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation citizens and area residents over a five-year period.
The HPA status will afford the wetland more protection than it currently has as Category B Settlement Land because the Yukon government has permanently withdrawn the subsurface from quartz, placer and coal activity. Interim protection has been in place since 1995. The First Nation already manages surface activities in the area.
Copies of the management plan will be available shortly from Yukon government and LS/CFN offices and on the Environment Yukon website. A total of four HPAs have been created in Yukon to date, protecting more than 12,000 km² of exceptional habitat.
Backgrounder: Information about Ts'alwnjik Chu (Nordenskiold)
Where is the Habitat Protection Area?
The Ts'alwnjik Chu Habitat Protection Area is a 77.4-square-kilometre parcel of land located along the Nordenskiold River, south of Carmacks and west of the Klondike Highway. It is entirely within the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation settlement land parcel R-2B. The Habitat Protection Area is about 30 kilometres long and 2.5 kilometres wide. It does not include any other adjacent private land or public land.
Why is this area special?
This wetland has been important for thousands of years. It has provided First Nation hunters with moose, ducks and duck eggs, muskrat, salmon, other wildlife and fish. In particular, the area provides habitat for breeding and fall staging of ducks, swans and geese. It is a rich area that is needed for traditional harvesting and to teach the youth the ways of living off the land.
This wetland provides habitat for waterfowl and other birds, as well as fish and animals. The plants and water in wetlands provide a home to many species and must be protected from disturbances and pollution.
How are responsibilities shared between the partners?
The surface of the Habitat Protection Area is owned by the Little Salmon/ Carmacks First Nation and the sub-surface is owned by the Yukon government. The First Nation and the Yukon government jointly manage freshwater fish (not salmon), furbearers, wildlife and outfitter concessions within the Habitat Protection Area. The Yukon government enforces hunting laws for licensed hunters. The management plan reflects the partnership these two governments agreed to for the management of the Habitat Protection Area.
Vision for the HPA area
Our vision for the Ts'alwnjik Chu Habitat Protection Area is that it remains an area where wildlife populations continue to thrive, with negative human impacts on the habitat minimized. We wish to see it as an area that can sustain people with meat, fish and furs harvested as they always have been. It will be a place where First Nation Elders can teach youth about traditional values and ways, and all can appreciate the natural world and the spiritual peace that comes with being on the land. In short, our vision is that Ts'alwnjik Chu will continue to be the local "bread basket" it has always been.