January 17, 2005

Dion names additions in Yukon, Ont, PEI to Canadian Heritage Rivers system

Three rivers in Yukon, Ontario and Prince Edward Island have been added to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS). The designations, announced by federal Environment Minister St√ąphane Dion, include the Yukon section of the Tatshenshini River, the Missinaibi River in northern Ontario, and Prince Edward Island's Three Rivers watershed.

The Yukon portion of the Tatshenshini watershed falls within the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations' traditional territory and is key to the livelihood and well-being of these communities. The river has been designated to the CHRS for its outstanding natural, human and recreational values. As one of the wildest and most visually spectacular rivers in the Canadian Northwest, the Tatshenshini flows past 4,500 metres of high peaks, glacier-covered valleys and an iceberg dotted lake. The area supports more than 53 species of mammals and provides an important migration route for waterfowl and other birds, with at least 40 species known to use the region. The Tatshenshini River is the fourth Yukon river to be designated to the CHRS, joining the Alsek, Bonnet Plume and The Thirty Mile (Yukon) River.

Ontario's Missinaibi River, a major tributary of the Moose River watershed draining into James Bay, is one of North America's longest free-flowing protected river corridors. Situated in the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield, it has been designated for its outstanding scenic beauty, significant natural and cultural heritage features, and its importance as an ancient Aboriginal travel way and fur trade route. "The Missinaibi River flows through a wild boreal landscape that is key to tourism and resource development," Dion noted. The 89,600-hectare Missinaibi Provincial Park provides visitors with scenery that is both striking and geologically significant. Gorges like the one below Thunder House Falls and unusual deposits like the fossil occurrences are not seen elsewhere in Ontario. The Missinaibi is Ontario's eleventh Canadian Heritage River.

The third designation, PEI's Three Rivers watershed, is an outstanding example of some of the earliest rivers to be permanently settled by European immigrants to Canada. Its designation will provide a unique opportunity to conserve and interpret myriad significant national, regional and provincial historical facets, ranging from the culture of the Mi'kmaq peoples to French, Scottish, Irish and English settlement. The watershed includes the Cardigan, Brudenell, and Montague/Valleyfield rivers, and encompasses an area of 357 square kilometres. A combination of farmland, sand spits, beaches, and shaled outcroppings highlight the landscapes found along its shores. Sandy beaches are frequent in the estuary, and vary in colour from nearly white to red, depending on the amount of iron oxide on the sand grains. The Three Rivers is PEI's second Canadian Heritage River, joining the Hillsborough River.

The addition of these three rivers brings to 34 the number designated to the CHRS nationally.

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