Old Crow Flats

Case study about a community that live in a Tundra climate who may be experiencing exploitation and development in the north of Yukon, Canada.

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  • Created on: 16-05-10 13:20
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Old Crow Flats
1. Attractions of life in the Old Crow for the Vuntut Gwitchin
The land here is low lying and is composed of peat bogs, whereas to the north are some
woodland covered mountains. The area was not glaciated during the last ice age. They
trap Muskrat for their furs in the off season but their main activity is to hunt in sustainable
numbers the porcupine Caribou herd, so called because they cross the Porcupine river at
Old Crow. This occurs every spring and autumn as the Caribou travel to and from their
feeding and breeding grounds in Northern Yukon and Alaska. This area is prefect for the
caribou because it is flat so they can see predators and a sea breeze clears Mosquitoes
which form during summer.
2. Pressures on this community to move away
Old crow flats are in the north of the Yukon territories in Canada, right next to the
Alaskan border. This means that any developments that occur in the USA can have a
direct impact upon the people of the old crow flats area. Other economies do exist in the
area, but these are limited to limited market economies and service jobs for the Vuntut
Gwichin Council (a first nation government) including construction, water and fuel
delivery etc.
A quarry for gravel was started in 2003. The gravel ahs many uses include shoring up
river bank erosion, and road building. The quarry is in the side of Crow mountain 6 km
from the village and employs 12 men. Many young people have moved away from the
area in search of employment.
3. How well is the community protecting itself from these pressures?
The Vuntut Gwichin are no longer nomadic, but are sedentary at a strategic river crossing
point of the Caribou migration. They use rifles not bows and arrows. They use snow
mobiles not sledges
4. How might the development of the so-called "1002" lands for oil exploration
damage the Caribou herds?
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is home to 250 species of animal, including
grizzly bears, caribou, wolves and millions of migratory birds. It covers 8 million hectares
and was established in 1960 to preserve the area. The northernmost part of the refuge
is an area known as the 1002 lands - a coastal plain between the Brooks Range and the
Beaufort Sea that is not covered by wilderness designated protection. It could hold
valuable oil a gas reserves, but is also a key calving ground for the Caribou. In January
2008 a proposal was put forward to open the lands up for petroleum exploration and
Groups in favour of this development include the oil industry, and representatives in
Congress of Alaska, the people that receive money from the Alaska Permanent Fund
from state revenues in taxation of the oil industry, those that argue national security in
USA depends on producing own oil and avoid relying on imports from other countries.
Those against are native Alaskans and first nation Canadians that rely on the caribou
herds for food and their income, small but growing tourist industries, wildlife
conservationists in Alaska, Canada and rest of the world who want permanent protection
of the Arctic Refuge's coastal plan.
However there is only a 50/50 chance that the 1002 lands will help discover oil. Also, oil
estimates suggest that production will be slow as they would only manage to
accommodate for 90 days of enough oil and gas for the demand from the US. Legislation

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Alaska's representatives in
Congress to allow the oil to be exported to Asia so the arguement for is flawed.…read more


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