Yaaguun Suu Heritage Site/Conservancy
About This Conservancy
The Yaaguun Suu Heritage Site/Conservancy area has been used since time immemorial by the people of the Haida Nation for cultural, social and spiritual purposes. The freshwater lake and river system has high value for a diversity of salmonids. The presence of intact, old-growth forests provides excellent forage and habitat for Northern Goshawks.
The Friends of Yakoun Lake constructed a series of lakeside trails and continue to maintain them as well as conduct other stewardship activities in the vicinity. The Research Group on Invasive Species constructed a fenced exclosure research plot to study the effects of deer browse on the natural ecosystem. Two other larger exclosures also exist that were built by the Haida Forest Guardian program for the study of medicinal plants (ethnobotany).
Access to the northern side of Yaaguun Suu Heritage Site/Conservancy is primarily by Forest Service roads either via Port Clements or from Queen Charlotte. Access to Yakoun Lake itself is only possible by foot from a small parking area at the end of a short spur road just north of the heritage site/conservancy.
Established Date: May 23, 2008
Conservancy Size: 7,970 hectares
Location and Maps
Yaaguun Suu Heritage Site/Conservancy is located in the southwest corner of Graham Island approximately 2 kilometres from the western coast of Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands at Shields Bay and 25 kilometres northwest of the community of Queen Charlotte. 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.
It includes all of Yakoun Lake and its tributaries, with the exception of the eastern half of Etheline Bay and the outlet of Yakoun River. The eastern portion of Etheline Bay is encompassed by private property owned by Island Timberlands LP.
Here is a map indicating the location of the conservancy: Haida Gwaii Map [JPG]
Nature and Culture
Cultural Heritage: Several traditional Haida trails can be found within the Heritage Site/Conservancy that provides linkages to other important areas. These trails connect Yakoun Lake to Shields Bay overland through the Sandstone Creek watershed; Yakoun Lake overland to Long Inlet (Lagin’s Village); Yakoun Lake overland via Delta Creek and ridgetop to Kagan Bay (Slatechuck Creek); and, Yakoun Bay (on the Lake) to the Yakoun River.
A seasonal traditional camp exists at Yakoun Bay. There are at least 13 monumental cedars that have been documented within the heritage site/conservancy that may be important for future cultural use. Many of these areas have not been inventoried thoroughly which indicates that the conservancy may contain many other unrecorded cultural heritage and archaeological sites.
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 Suu 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.
Conservation: The area has some of the most productive Sitka spruce alluvial forests on Haida Gwaii and constitutes a high representation for Yellow cedar-Mountain hemlock/Hellebore and Western red cedar-Sitka spruce/Salal ecological communities.
One red listed species, the Queen Charlotte aven (Geum schofieldii) has two occurrence records for the area.
Yaaguun Suu Heritage Site/Conservancy contains fish-bearing streams that are known to have Sockeye Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Chum Salmon, Pink Salmon, Steelhead, Dolly Varden and Cutthroat Trout. The Yakoun River in particular is a major salmon-bearing stream on which large amounts of fish stock data are available.
Yakoun Lake hosts Coastrange Sculpin, Coho Salmon, Cutthroat Trout, Dolly Varden, Pacific Lamprey, Pink Salmon, Prickly Sculpin, Sockeye Salmon, Steelhead and 3-spine Stickleback. The lake has a mean depth of 35 m (max. 91 m) and has significant salmonid stocks, with exceptional habitat supported by the surrounding old growth forests (65.6% of conservancy area).
Northern Goshawks (Laingi subspecies) and Marbled Murrelets are red listed species and are known to inhabit the area. Of recent concern is the presence of introduced mammals, such as Black-tailed Deer, which pose an increasing threat to local ecosystems and species. Bull thistle, an alien invasive plant, has been identified as occurring within the area.
- Management Planning Information
- The management plan for Yaaguun Suu Heritage Site/Conservancy was approved in 2011 by both BC Parks and the Haida Nation.