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Yaaguun Gandlaay Heritage Site/Conservancy

This site is currently under construction, please be aware that information is still be collected.

About This Conservancy

Yaaguun Gandlaay Heritage Site/Conservancy has been used since time immemorial by the people of the Haida Nation for cultural, social and spiritual purposes. The villages and seasonal camps of Sahldungkun, Hlakeguns, Lanaslnagai, Yagunkun and Undlskadjuns were originally located at the outlet of Yakoun River and around the shoreline of Yakoun Bay. This area was considered as one of the most important food fish gathering locations on Haida Gwaii. Twenty-five registered archaeological sites exist within the boundaries of the heritage site/conservancy and hundreds of culturally modified trees have been recorded within this area.

The heritage site/conservancy’s recommended nearshore marine component is an internationally significant estuary important for migratory and overwintering waterfowl. Additionally, high quality nesting and foraging habitat for Northern goshawks and suitable nesting habitat for marbled murrelets is present.

There are two other protected areas in the vicinity of Yaaguun Gandlaay Heritage Site/Conservancy. The southern edge of Kamdis Heritage Site/Conservancy is less than 10 kilometres to the northeast, and Yakoun Suu Heritage Site/Conservancy which protects the headwaters of the Yakoun River watershed, is located approximately 35 kilometres upstream to the south.

Conservancy Size: 2,689 hectares (2,457 hectares of upland and 232 hectares of foreshore)

Location

Please note: Any maps listed are for information only - they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.

Yaaguun Gandlaay Heritage Site/Conservancy is located on the north end of Yakoun River, on Graham Island, Haida Gwaii, immediately southeast of the community of Port Clements. It is part of an archipelago-wide system of protected areas that includes Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, several provincial parks and ecological reserves, and ten other heritage site/conservancies. In total, half of the land base of Haida Gwaii is now in protected status.

The terrestrial component of the heritage site/conservancy covers 2,457 hectares. It includes a portion of the Florence Creek watershed and a portion of the Canoe Creek watersheds. The elevation range is from sea level to 109 metres.

A marine component/foreshore area covers an area of 232 hectares. Yakoun Bay has international significance estuary for migratory and overwintering waterfowl and salmonid habitat. The estuary is the only one on Haida Gwaii that serves as habitat for all coastal salmon species. This estuary also contains important habitat for eelgrass and juvenile salmon.

Here is a map indicating the location of the conservancy: Haida Gwaii Map [jpg]
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Nature and Culture

Several archaeological sites contain a number of recorded cultural values. These include at least 349 known culturally modified trees (CMTs), remnants of carved canoes, a fish weir, test hole trees, notched logs and tapered bark strips. Many of these areas have not been inventoried thoroughly which indicates that the conservancy likely contains many other unrecorded cultural heritage and archaeological sites.

Kiidk’yaas, also known as the “golden spruce”, grew on the bank of the Yakoun River. The site is tied to ancient Haida stories and was locally significant to many inhabitants of Haida Gwaii. This genetically rare tree was cut down in 1997.

Yaaguun Gandlaay is one of the most important Haida food fish gathering sites on Haida Gwaii.

The heritage site/conservancy is underlain by undivided sedimentary rocks. The surficial geology is made up of coarse textured morainal deposits over plains and gentle slopes in the upland areas and fine textured fluvial material and some coarser deposits along the valley bottoms. Yaaguun Gandlaay Heritage Site/Conservancy is situated at the mouth of the Yakoun River, the largest river drainage on Haida Gwaii. The estuary is dominated by warm shallow, sandy and flat bottom physiography typified by low current and low exposure.

It contains some of the most productive forests on Haida Gwaii with over half (56%) in old growth condition. Slender-spiked mannagrass (Glyceria leptostachya) and angled bitter-cress (Cardamine angulata) are locally rare species that occur within the area.

Yaaguun Gandlaay Heritage Site/Conservancy is the only estuary on Haida Gwaii that serves as habitat for all coastal salmon species. Florence Creek, Canoe Creek and the Yakoun River are fish-bearing with the latter hosting chinook salmon (wild and augmented), chum salmon, coho salmon, (wild and augmented), coastal cutthroat trout, eulachon, pink salmon, sockeye salmon, steelhead, aleutian sculpin, prickly sculpin, threespine stickleback, river lamprey and Western brook lamprey. Steelhead and Dolly Varden are also found in the area. This estuary contains important habitat for eelgrass and juvenile salmon.

The cultural heritage values in the heritage site/conservancy include opportunities for the ongoing continuance of Haida culture through traditional use of the area. Some examples of traditional use within Yaaguun Gandlaay Heritage Site/Conservancy may include monumental cedar and cedar bark harvesting, medicinal plant harvesting, hunting, fishing, trapping and food gathering. The heritage site/conservancy also provides a place for the physical expression of culture through monumental art such as totems or establishment of traditional style infrastructure such as longhouses.
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Management Planning

The management plan for Yaaguun Gandlaay Heritage Site/Conservancy was approved in 2011 by both BC Parks and the Haida Nation.