Yukon’s three heritage rivers – Tatshenshini, Bonnet Plume and Thirty Mile (Yukon River) – offer some exceptional canoeing or rafting experiences for independent paddlers and commercially guided trips.
As the manager for these rivers, Yukon Government keeps a close eye on the environmental impacts to the river corridors from recreational use. Every five to seven years, Yukon Parks staff conduct surveys of each of the shoreline campsites on the rivers (one of the more enviable jobs to get assigned!). Known as a Backcountry Recreational Impact Monitoring (BRIM) survey, a survey team assesses 12 considerations related to vegetation changes, tree damage, site alteration, trail development and sanitation. Photos are taken at each site and then replicated every time the survey is done. This year we have introduced drone photography to the survey as a way of monitoring the human footprint and expansion of trail networks.
River traffic on the Tatshenshini and Thirty Mile rivers has been stable or growing for many years. In the case of the Bonnet Plume River, fewer paddlers are choosing this challenging river as a destination, so impacts are diminishing. However, the photographs over the past twenty years reveal fascinating visual evidence of changes to the landscape – possibly due to climate change. With each cycle of BRIM surveys, we help ensure that the values of our heritage rivers remain intact.