The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SPRING 2002










In this issue

Front Page



Spring Packet


From the Editor






We thought we would showcase a small letter writing campaign by Becky Mason that swirled around various e-mail addresses this Spring

Dear friends:

It is not often that we ask for help but we are very

concerned about the future of Nahanni National

Park. Below is some information from CPAWS

(Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) on some

of the immediate threats to this World Heritage Site

and a sample draft letter you can send to the appropriate ministers.

Please circulate this message to anyone you

think may be interested, anywhere. We also encourage you to print it out and hand it to friends that don't have email.

     Thank you very much,

     Becky Mason and Reid McLachlan

The Nahanni River (NWT) is in danger from

mining exploration and development. The most

critical threat is the Canadian Zinc mine on Prairie

Creek. The mining infrastructure has been there

for 20 years. This includes huge amounts of cyanide

and diesel fuel stored in ageing containers beside the creek which is prone to flash floods and in an unstable earthquake zone. These pose an obvious and immediate threat to the Nahanni River downstream.

The mine is also gearing up to open and studies

show that the ore present is laced with high levels of

mercury as well as arsenic and antimony. The water

contamination from the run-off could be disastrous

if the mine starts production. An all-season road

is also proposed to be built to the mine, crossing

fragile areas of tundra, permafrost and the world

renowned Nahanni karst formations that Parks

Canada has proposed to protect.

Other plans for the Nahanni River this season include oil and gas exploration. An "AIR CANON" will be floated up the Nahanni to the Park boundary,

doing seismic blasts along the river floor looking for

clues of underlying oil and gas potential.

Mining development and oil and gas exploration

within the South Nahanni watershed threatens

this globally recognized World Heritage Site.

The best way to protect this unique area is to expand the protected area to include the entire watershed. Currently there are land claims negotiations underway between the Deh Cho First Nation (they feel strongly about protecting this area) and the Federal Government.

Expanded protection of the Nahanni area is a real

possibility if we help push for it.

Sending letters will make the difference. The

Canadian Government needs to hear from you now.

For more information on the Nahanni National

Park issue:

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society 


E-mail: Alison Woodley   National office: (613) 569-7226

Dear friends:

This proposed oil and gas exploration will directly

affect the future of the Nahanni National Park. It has a looming deadline so send emails to address

below by this Friday a.m.

Please circulate to anyone who you may think

would be interested.

1 - National Energy Board has approved the "air

cannon" project.

2 - The only way to reverse approval is to have

the MacKenzie Valley Land and Water Board request an Environmental Assessment.

3 - Deadline for the request for an Environmental

Assessment is this Friday April 5, 2002. After that the "air cannon" goes ahead this summer up the Nahanni River to the Park's border. I've been told this seismic process would make it almost impossible to expand the proposed park boundaries.

4 - The only way that an Environmental Assessment

will be done is if there is shown that there

potential for significant public concern for the "air

cannon" procedure.

Dear Friends,

The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact

Review Board was swamped with hundreds of your

emails calling for an Environmental Assessment

on the proposed "air cannon" on the Nahanni river.

I'm pleased to report that the Environmental Assessment was ordered Friday April 5, 2002. Thanks to all of you who helped to make this happen! Apart from the hopefully positive outcome of the EA this process will also buy some time for the land claim negotiations to be finalized. It will also send a strong message to both the National Energy Board and all other resource extraction interests to think twice before threatening to develop the Nahanni area. 

Interest has been expressed by various Canadian

Government departments for a full Environmental

Assessment for all of the Nahanni Watershed.

When this process gets farther along there may

be need for the public to express their concern.

If you want to you can get a head start on calling

for a full environment assessment for the South

Nahanni Watershed by emailing The National Energy Board, Chief Conservation Officer, Terry


You can monitor the situation at:

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society 

Mackenzie Valley Environmental

Impact Review Board

Thanks again for helping!

Becky Mason


 Spring 2002         Outfit 108 

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