This Yukon First Nation wants to use native plants to help remediate abandoned mine sites – by Julien Gignac (The Narwhal – June 13, 2020)

The Narwhale

With unreclaimed mine sites littering Kaska territory, the community of Ross River is hatching a plan to help solve the problem: an industrial-scale nursery replete with native plants.

In southeastern Yukon, the Faro, Ketza and Wolverine mines have all seen their owners go bankrupt, leaving behind contamination and hefty cleanup tabs. Here, the community of Ross River, which is less than 180 kilometres away from all three mines, sees an opportunity.

The native plant nursery will be the first of its kind in Yukon, according to the project’s organizers, with a scale and mandate of supporting major reclamation projects that sets it apart from other nurseries in the territory.

The Yukon Research Centre at Yukon University quantified the need for and barriers to accessing native plants for reclamation efforts in a 2017 report.

This work drew on interviews with ecologists, consultants and industry players and found that using native plants was preferred and generally considered best practice in remediation, but was not always an option due to access. Ross River’s native plant nursery could remedy this.

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