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updated Thursday 30 December 2010


PALS Newsletter Aug 2010  page 1

For the complete 4-page newsletter, click here:  PALS Newsletter 2010/08

For information about who to write and how to write, click here:
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     PALS UPDATE - Thursday 30 December 2010    


Here's an article from The Vancouver Sun - the word's getting out!

Small-town Atlin tries to save B.C.'s biggest natural lake

By LARRY PYNN, Vancouver Sun December 29, 2010 5:02 PM

  (Sorry, photo missing.)

The town of Atlin in northwest B.C. on shores of Atlin Lake, the largest natural lake in B.C.

Photograph by: David Howe, Special to the Vancouver Sun

Residents of one of B.C.'s smallest towns are lining up to save the province's biggest natural lake from a proposed hydro scheme by Yukon Energy Corp.

Atlin, with a population of about 400, is opposed to Yukon Energy's proposal to put a submerged weir in B.C.'s Atlin River as a way to reduce flows from Atlin Lake in fall and allow more water to be used in winter months, when electrical loads are highest.

Residents don't want anyone interfering with one of the most pristine and beautiful wilderness lakes in B.C. and are urging the provincial government to make the Atlin River a formal protected area and officially sink the Yukon plan.

"We're a little tiny town, but we're fighting a pretty good battle here," Wayne Merry, president of the Protect Atlin Lake Society, said Wednesday.

Atlin is located in northwestern B.C., about 180 kilometres south of Whitehorse, with its road access through Yukon.

The Atlin River flows almost five kilometres from the west side of Atlin Lake into Tagish Lake, then drains northward into Yukon to Marsh Lake and the Yukon River.

Residents fear that altered water temperatures in the lake could affect fish spawning, that lake ice could become more dangerous for snowmobiling, and that greater wave action at high-water levels could damage the shoreline, including campsites and docks.

Merry said lake levels can fluctuate close to two metres year-round, although the windy season generally occurs shortly after the lake has reached its peak around mid-August as cooler weather reduces run-off from the surrounding glaciers.

"The combination of high winds and higher water would create quite a bit of damage," he warned.

To protect against the Yukon Energy proposal, residents urge the Atlin River be designated a protected area rather than a resource management zone under the provincial Atlin Taku land-use plan, which is in its final draft stage.

Merry said the province has remained "remarkably quiet" during the process.

"They've essentially said they'll look at the proposal," said the former chief ranger for Alaska's Denali National Park and a full-time resident of Atlin since 1990. "It's an interesting position because there is no benefit whatsoever to B.C."

B.C. Environment Minister Murray Coell could not be reached to comment Wednesday.

The ministry did release a statement to The Sun, saying that "to balance interests, the B.C. government must ensure that all proposals receive full and fair evaluations" and that "this project will only proceed if it can be shown that the benefits outweigh any impact on the ecology of Atlin Lake and the surrounding areas."

While the proposed project is not large enough to trigger the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office process, Yukon Energy is aware it would require a water licence through the B.C. Ministry of Natural Resource Operations, the province said.

Yukon Energy says community fears are exaggerated and that "lake levels would not be raised above what they are now during the summer months," according to its website.

Since 40 per cent of the water at its Whitehorse power facility comes from the Atlin River, Yukon Energy "cannot ignore the potential of using that water more efficiently."

The publicly owned electrical utility notes the weir would allow for both boat and fish passage and could displace between 2.5 and five million litres of diesel per year used for generator electrical production and avoid the production of up to 12,600 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. The weir could also be used for flood management on the lake.

Yukon Energy confirms that no decision has been made, that studies are ongoing, and it is committed to "meaningful discussions" with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, Atlin residents, and the province.

Chloe O'Loughlin, executive director of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, called on the province to immediately kill the Yukon plan and ensure that Atlin Lake does not become a reservoir.

"There is an opportunity in the land-use plan to say there will be nothing allowed that negatively impacts on the lake. There is a window of opportunity to put it to bed forever."

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


Read more:


     PALS UPDATE - Thursday 14 October 2010    

Hi PALS members:

This is to bring you up to date on our perspective of the ATLIN-TAKU LAND USE PLAN.


 As you may know, the Land Use Plan is in final draft form.   LUP representatives held an open house in Atlin on Tuesday October 5th to get public  response to the plan. A good number of  Atlinites turned out on that windy evening (even though the open house was not widely publicized)  to view the maps and voice their concerns.   

As you may also know, the LUP people elected to NOT include the Atlin River as a designated protected area but instead to designate it  a Resource Management Zone which allows for certain types of development including hydro-electric development.  

We understand that Premier Campbell has sent word from above that the river should be left unprotected in case Yukon Energy Corporation decides to go ahead with their project  on the Atlin River. This is completely unsatisfacory for many reasons, including the following:

a)  At this time, nobody (including Yukon Energy Corporation)  knows whether this project will be completed.

b)  One of the important purposes of a Land Use Plan is to protect those special areas important to the  ecology, culture and heritage, recreational use, and fish and wildlife resouces  of an area. The Atlin River is definitely worthy of this protection, based on the values already identified in the draft plan itself.

c)  How effective is a Land Use Plan if it  designates important protected areas, conservancies, parks, etc.,  and then leaves these areas vulnerable to damage by river dams and lake storage projects? 

d)  A  Land Use Plan  is not effective if it  accommodates a corporation that may, or may not, decide to proceed with a project. There are stringent regulations in place that may  prevent YEC from proceeding with the dam construction.  What happens after that?  We have been told that it would be difficult or impossible to change the designation of the river  once the plan  has had final approval.  That means the Atlin River would continue to be unprotected forever  and Atlinites may have to face the same scenario over and over again. 

e)  The purpose of a Land Use Plan is to plan for the future and should not be manipulated by short term political expediency. 

f)  A Land Use Plan should  respect the wishes of the people who will be most affected.

Certainly these are all matters  that should be considered by our government.  





Mr. James Cuell

Integrated Land Management Bureau

Atlin-Taku Land Use Plan


with copies to:


Honourable Pat Bell

Minister of Forests and Range

Government of B.C.

Mr. Bryan Evans

Taku River First Nation

Atlin, B.C.


 Best regards to all.

The Executive

Protect Atlin Lake Society

     PALS UPDATE - Tuesday 05 October 2010    

2010 09 27 Public Review Newsletter 1.jpg

For complete 4-page newsletter, click here:  Atlin Taku Land Use Planning: Public Review Newsletter,  September 2010

2010 09 27 PA and RMZ management direction 1.jpg

For full size PDF of this page, click here: Protected Areas and RMZ Management Direction  -   2010 09 27

2010 09 27 Draft Atlin Taku LUP page1.jpg

For complete 96-page document, click here:  Draft - Atlin Taku Land Use Plan - 96 pages - 2010 09 27

Map18_LUP_Zoning_27Sept10 1.jpg

For full size map, click here:   Map 18   Land Use Plan   Zoning - 2010 09 27

     PALS UPDATE - Monday 04 October 2010    

Re:  Atlin-Taku Land Use Plan - Final Draft September 27/10

Hi PALS members:

As you may be (or may not be) aware, there will be an open house to present the above Land Use Plan plan for  public review tomorrow (Tuesday) evening October 5th,  starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Atlin Teen Centre. The purpose is to present the final draft of the plan to the public for their input. As we  haven't seen any notices around town, we thought it would be a good idea to let our members know about it. 

In this final draft, the planners have opted to NOT  designate the Atlin River as a "Protected Area" although we understand there  was some previous discussion about doing so. Instead they have designated the Atlin River as a Resource Management Zone (RMZ) which allows for certain types of development, including hydro electric development.

If you have any comments or concerns regarding the designation of the Atlin River under the Plan, we suggest you speak to the representatives of the Integrated Land Management Bureau who will be in attendance tomorrow evening.

You can also email the team leaders of the working group:

Bryan Evans (TRTFN Team Leader)


James Cuell (BC. Govt. Team Leader)

Once the final draft plan has gone through the public review process it will then be considered for approval by B.C.Govt. and TRTFN.


The Executive

Protect Atlin Lake Society 


    PALS UPDATE - 27 September 2010   


It is very timely now  for PALS members and other  individuals to follow up  with their own letters to Minister Penner outlining their concerns.  So get out your pen and  paper or fire up your computer.  It will be very helpful and will go a long way to underline  the points and concerns that PALS  has already expressed in person to the Minister.  



For a small (or large) donation, anyone can become a member of PALS.  They needn't be just residents of British Columbia.  The lake and park and river are there for all people to use and enjoy and we hope to be able to build a large membership of people outside of Atlin.  If you know of people who want to help us in our endeavours, please have them get in touch with any of the PALS executive to arrange a membership.

Wayne Merry, President  Ph. 651-7502

Maureen Morris, Vice-President Ph. 651-651-7542

Jan Harvey, Secretary Ph. 651-2491

Bobbie Whelan, Asst. Secretary Ph. 651-7579

Cindy Merry, Treasurer Ph. 651-7502


Thanks, everyone, for your interest and support,   We can stop this project if we all work together.


Executive, Protect Atlin Lake Society:

    Wayne Merry

    Maureen Morris

    Bobbie Whelan

    Cindy Merry

    Jan Harvey

Hi PALS members:

First, the PALS  executive would like to thank you for supporting our newly formed society, Protect Atlin Lake Society.  Your membership contribution will help us with our expenses. PALS is a registered society under the B.C. Society Act, and all of our executive members work on a volunteer basis. We have no paid positions.  

To date, we are a force of 101 members, and that number is growing daily.  We are constantly getting calls and emails from people  who want to offer their support. 

PALS intends to keep you up to date on our efforts to ensure that Atlin Lake, Atlin Provincial Park and the Atlin River are preserved and protected in their natural states. 

We have divided the emails to members into groups  to ensure that these messages go through without getting bogged down.  We hope it works.  If you do NOT want to receive emails from PALS please just email us  and let us know.



Approximately 112 people attended the community meeting at the Atlin Recreation Centre on September 15th.  People spoke about their concerns regarding Yukon Energy Corporation's proposed construction of  a dam or weir on the Atlin River to provide about 2 megawatts of power to the Yukon. All comments were noted.   

 PALS President, Wayne Merry, briefly described some of the negative effects that such a construction would have on the ecosystem of the lake and Atlin Provincial Park, as well as  on Atlin's  docks, roads and lakeshore properties. A photo display provided graphic examples of these effects. 

 Terry Boylan explained the structure of our new society.  In the future, members  will  elect  directors at the Annual General Meeting.  The directors would then appoint the officers (or executive). So as members, you will have direct imput into the ongoing structure of the society.(Presently, the board of directors is of the view that it would be worthwhile to continue the society even after the weir/dam threat has been stopped.  This way, the society can be available to deal with any future threats to the lake/park/river.) 

 At the September 15th meeting, Society secretary, Jan Harvey, encouraged people to express their concerns by writing to B.C. Ministers (Barry Penner, Environment Minister; Pat Bell, Minister of Forest and Range, and Doug Donaldson, MLA). 

 YOUR VOICE IS IMPORTANT AND CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  IF YOU HAVE NOT DONE SO ALREADY AND YOU HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT YEC'S PROPOSED CONSTRUCTION would you please take a moment to write to these ministers and to the MLA.  An idea would be to write to Minister Penner copying both Minister Bell and Doug Donaldson, MLA.  You will have better luck getting a response  if you pose a question in your letter. Also, no individual is restricted to writing just one letter.  So keep them flowing.  Normally, it takes several weeks to get a response. Here are the addresses--

Honourable Barry Penner

Minister of Environment,

P.O, Box 9047

Stn. Prov. Govt.

Victoria, B.C. V8W 9E2



Wrong email addresss. See note below.

Please note there was an address error in this email address for Minister Barry Penner.
It should have read


(Dear Minister Penner)


Honourable Pat Bell

Minister of Forests and Range

P.O. Box  9049

Stn. Prov. Govt.

Victoria, B.C.V8W 9E2

(Dear Minister Bell)

Doug Donaldson, MLA

1175 Main Street

Smithers, B.C.

V0J 2N0

(Dear Mr. Donaldson or Dear Doug)



The Petition to Protect Atlin Lake is now in Atlin's two grocery stores and in Jenz' Cafe.

We have many local signatures but we must now seek signatures from  B.C. residents outside of Atlin.  If you have friends or relatives in B.C. who are willing to help collect signatures, please let Jan Harvey know by return email.  She can email you a petition form that you can send to your contacts.

Once the petition sheets are completed they should be mailed back (to yourself  or directly to the society)...

Protect Atlin Lake Society

Box 404

Atlin B.C. V0W 1A0

Please note that scanned or faxed petition sheets can not be used. We have to show original signatures.




On Thursday, September 23rd, PALS representatives had a luncheon meeting at the Atlin Inn with B.C.'s Environment Minister Barry Penner, his chief of staff, and a representative from Water Stewardship Division, Prince George.We were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet the Minister and describe our concerns regarding YEC's plan in person.

During the meeting we showed the Minister photos depicting high wave action, turbidity and flood conditions that have occurred in the past, emphasizing that water held at its highest level over a period of several months, which is YEC's plan,  would have severe effects such as shoreline erosion,  soil saturation resulting in the die-off of vegetation and trees, and damage to shoreline roads, properties and docks.

The Minister listened to our concerns and asked a number of  questions regarding the project all of which, fortunately, we were able to answer. 

One outstanding issue is the Ministry's interpretation of the Parks Act, subsections 9 (1) and (2) which prohibits "disturbance" of natural resources within a park. As you know, a large part of Atlin Lake is  within Atlin Provincial Park.  YEC's proposed construction is outside of the park boundary.

Presently there appears to be no park policy, legislation, or case law with respect to this type of situation (where the disturbance is due to influences outside of the park boundary).    Minister Penner admitted that this  was a unique situation and that his Ministry lawyers were working on an interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Act.  We should have an answer from his department in four to six weeks.

The Minister was given a binder to take with him  containing photos, correspondence  and information in more detail as to the community's concerns.  We came away from the meeting with the strong impression that our concerns were  taken seriously.

     END of PALS UPDATES    


NOTE: the information above is added to Discover Atlin's website as a public service. PALS is newsworthy! And worthy of your support. Direct all inquiries to PALS. Thank you!






















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