Territorial parks

The Yukon has four territorial parks: Tombstone, Ni'iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch), Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk, and Coal River Springs. Planning processes are underway for the establishment of four additional territorial parks: Agay Mene, Asi Keyi, Kusawa and Dàadzàii Vàn (Summit Lake - Bell River).

Tombstone Territorial Park

The Tombstone range is at the southern edge of Beringia, a unique region that was never scoured by glaciers during the last Ice Age, making for a remarkably diverse and productive land for a northern environment. The mountains and valleys here are home to Dall sheep, moose, grizzly and black bears, as well as both woodland and barren-ground caribou that range across the tundra. The Tombstones and Blackstone Uplands are traditional territory of both the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in and Gwich'in First Nations.

CPAWS Yukon was involved in the public campaign to establish the 2,200-square kilometre Tombstone Territorial Park as a legacy of the Tr’ondeck Hwech’in Final Agreement. We were also active in the public process to draft a management plan with a focus on preserving the ecological integrity of the region. That vision is enshrined in the plan, which was finalized and released in 2009.

There are potential threats to the region of rugged peaks, permafrost landforms and abundant wildlife, including oil and gas development, mineral exploration and potential mining development along the Dempster Highway corridor, which is the only year-round public access road that crosses the Arctic Circle in North America. Exploration and development along the fringes of the park could also impact its ecological integrity and cultural values. Learn more about Tombstone here...

Ni''iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch) Territorial Park

Located halfway between Dawson City and Old Crow, the remote park protects a portion of the North Ogilvie Mountains ecoregion. It was formally established in December, 1999 and is a legacy of the Vuntut Gwitchin Final Agreement

Year round open water, salmon runs, an astoundingly rich grizzly population and unusual limestone caves marks this 5,400-square-kilometre territorial park in the northern Yukon. It is adjoined by a Habitat Protection Area, bringing the total size of the wilderness area to 6,500-square kilometres. 

CPAWS provided public support to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation’s effort to protect this important region. We led the public campaign to phase out mining claims in the region and introduced the First Nation to the Nature Conservancy, which worked with the aboriginal government and the mining company to buy outstanding claims in the region. The possibility of mineral exploration or industrial access roads being proposed for the wilderness preserve still remains. This would undermine the ecological and cultural values that provoked the creation of the park. Learn more about Ni''iinlii Njik here...

Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park

Herschel Island–Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park was established as a Natural Environment Park in 1987, as a result of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. This agreement identifies the Yukon North Slope, including Herschel Island, as a special conservation area with the primary purpose of conserving wildlife and habitat and providing for traditional aboriginal use. This 116 km2 island protects a combination of natural and human heritage in the Beaufort Sea. 

Herschel Island's dry polar climate is home to a unique collection of arctic plants, animals and sea life, including the largest colony of Black Guillemots in the Western Arctic. Inuvialuit have used the site for thousands of years and many of their old dwellings are still visible on the island. In 2006, a new Herschel Island–Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park Management Plan was jointly developed by federal and territorial government agencies, the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee, the Inuvialuit Game Council along with the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope). Learn more about Herschel Island -Qikiqtaruk here...

Coal River Springs Territorial Park

In 1990, a 16-square kilometre area in the southeast Yukon encompassing Coal River Springs was officially dedicated as the Yukon's second Territorial Park and first Ecological Reserve designation. The area falls within the traditional territory of the Kaska Dene people. With its extensive limestone terraces created by cool water springs and the rich diversity of life forms associated with year-round flowing water, Coal River Springs is a unique feature of the Yukon and of Canada. The difficulty of traversing this isolated wilderness region helps to ensure that these incredible mineral formations will be protected for future generations to enjoy. 

The Yukon Government, Liard First Nation and Nature Conservancy of Canada all helped to establish this park. Learn more about Coal River Springs here...

What we're doing to protect Yukon's Territorial Parks

CPAWS continues to push for sound planning, responsible development and proper oversight and regulation of all users of the land in the vicinity of territorial parks.


Parks in Progress

Agay Mene

Agay Mene Territorial Park is identified under Chapter 10 of the Carcross Tagish First Nation Final Agreement signed in 2005. But despite being set aside over a decade ago as a Natural Environment Park, Agay Mene still has yet to be withdrawn from mineral staking. The area is the traditional homeland of the Carcross Tagish, the Teslin Tlingit, and the Taku River Tlingit First Nations, with a high number of past hunting and fishing camps. Traditional activities such as hunting, fishing and gathering are still important today.

Agay Mene Park is largely within the Yukon Southern Lakes ecoregion, characterized by plateaus and rolling hills, and low wetlands and shallow lakes, but a small yet significant portion is in the Boreal Mountains and Plateaus ecoregion. Moose and caribou are common here, and the area includes many wolf denning sites as well as being important for both grizzly and black bears. The diversity of habitats also supports the presence of many bird species. While the process for developing a recommended management plan began in 2009, as of September 2010 the process has been put on hold. Learn more about Agay Mene here...

Asi Keyi

Asi Keyi Territorial Park is identified under Chapter 10 of the Kluane First Nation Final Agreement and is also part of White River First Nation Traditional Territory. This nearly 3000-square kilometre area stretches from the Donjek River west to the Alaska border and sits on the northern border of Kluane National Park. The area has not been formally established under the Yukon Parks and Land Certainty Act. However, the area within the park boundaries identified through land claim agreements has been permanently withdrawn from mineral and oil and gas exploration.

Traditional use and cultural ties with the two First Nations are evidenced by former hunting and trapping sites, as well as camps and trails. The objectives of the park were set out in the Kluane First Nation Final Agreement and relate to the protection of natural and First Nation values. Access to Asi Keyi is very difficult with no established roads or trails, allowing this isolated region to remain protected. Management planning began in 2015 and a recommended plan is expected in 2017. Learn more about Asi Keyi here...

Dàadzàii Vàn (Summit Lake - Bell River)

Dàadzàii Vàn means "Loon Lake" in Gwich'in. The territorial park was identified in the North Yukon Regional Land Use Plan and is important to both the Vuntut Gwitchin and the Tetlit Gwich'in First Nations. The 1525-square kilometre park will protect the area's high wildlife and heritage values. The North Yukon Regional Land Use Plan notes that establishing the 1525-square kilometre park will “create a Protected Area network connecting Whitefish wetlands with Summit Lake – Bell River and the NWT Rat River Gwich’in Conservation Zone.”

Management planning commenced in 2015 and the area is permanently withdrawn from mineral, oil, and gas activity, and regulated under the Parks and Land Certainty Act. Learn more about Dàadzàii Vàn here...


Kusawa Park is located in the Coast Mountains, and is known for its wildlife diversity, including populations of Dall sheep, mountain goats, raptors and grizzly bears. The watershed supports lake trout, whitefish, grayling and salmon and it is a popular destination for camping, canoeing, boating, hiking, angling, hunting outfitting and wilderness travel. The boundaries of the 3000-square kilometre park were agreed upon through the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and Kwanlin Dün First Nation Final Agreements. The region was a central trade route for the Southern Tutchone, Tlingit and Chilkat First Nations from the Yukon and Alaska. 

Management planning began in 2008 and in January 2016, the Kusawa Park Steering Committee forwarded the Recommended Kusawa Park Management Plan for approval to the three affected First Nations and the Yukon Government. If approved it would become the first operating Territorial Park in the southern Yukon. Learn more about Kusawa here...

What we're doing to support the creation of Yukon parks

CPAWS Yukon participates in the public consultations on the development of management plans for new territorial parks and encourages the relevant steering committees to recommend measures that will safeguard the ecosystems and biodiversity within proposed parks. We also encourage the guiding vision and objectives for proposed parks - as written in the Final Agreements - to be respected and for fair and democratic processes to be followed that respect the rights of First Nations. 

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