Road to Tiger gold deposit in central Yukon worries hunters

ATAC Resources' plans to build a new road north of Mayo threatens the wilderness in that region, according to critics of the proposal.

ATAC Resources' plans to build a new road north of Mayo threatens wilderness critics say

The proposed mineral exploration road just north of Keno City is needed to advance it's gold project says ATAC Resources while critics counter it will permanently damage the wilderness. (YESAB)

A proposed mineral exploration road north of Mayo, Yukon, is encountering opposition from local residents and questions from others about its long term impact on wilderness areas in central Yukon.

ATAC Resources wants to build the 65 kilometre all-season road from a point near Keno City northeast to its Tiger gold property. The road would require eight bridges and 38 culverts.

Its application is currently before the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board. The environmental screening agency is taking public comments until Feb. 27.

Information meetings were held this week in Mayo and Keno. As well, public submissions are starting to reach the board.

Elder Jimmy Johnny of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation made a verbal submission to agency staff.

Jimmy Johnny, seen here in 2014, says important moose habitat will be put at risk by a road into a wilderness area north Keno City. (Philippe Morin/CBC)
"Mr. Johnny noted the importance of moose habitat in the Keno Ladue watershed and along the Beaver River. Displacement of moose from these areas and mortality from increased hunting were the primary potential effects identified," staff wrote.

"Mr. Johnny is concerned that new access to these important moose habitats will facilitate harvest and put additional pressures on an already stressed moose population."

Hunting outfitter Chris Widrig noted in a written submission that the road comes within a few kilometres of his hunting concession.

"Concessions in this area rely on undisturbed wilderness and intact wildlife habitat to attract clients from all over the world," Widrig wrote.

"All season access roads leave permanent scars on the wilderness landscape."

Last August, early in the process, the territorial Environment department raised issues it wanted addressed in the application.

"The proposal should include a discussion of potential cumulative effects of the project and how the proponent proposes to mitigate against negative impacts," the department wrote.

"Opening up a new all-season access route into the Beaver River watershed opens up the likelihood that additional industrial development will follow and wish to use the same route," it said.

"Hunters with snowmobiles and ATVs and other recreational users will also want to use the new route, and only some can be kept out by the proposed gates.

The proposed road is about 50 kilometres north of Mayo, Yukon. (YESAB)
"The overall impact of opening up major new access is typically far greater than the specific project itself and thus understanding the potential cumulative impacts of the project is necessary to assess the overall impact of the project." the Environment department wrote.

In its application ATAC Resources says access to the mining property so far has been by air. But it says the project has reached the stage where larger pieces of equipment are needed that would be difficult, if not impossible, to bring in by air.

Its application says in addition to three gates, the road would be patrolled to restrict access.

The road would continue to be used as long as the company was active in the area.

But it says when the road is no longer needed the culverts and bridges would be removed.