Hiking in the Yukon. Image: Pat Morrow
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"I BELIEVE in connected landscapes; so connected that my children can walk from one point to another."
Chris Bunting, Y2Y Supporter since 2007

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Tim Burkhart: Boots on the Ground

Y2Y's Peace River Break coordinator, Tim Burkhart, is committed to protecting one of the most threatened areas in the Yellowstone to Yukon region.

Y2Y's newest team member, Tim Burkhart, is already providing much needed resources to one of the most threatened areas in the Yellowstone to Yukon region – the Peace River Break.

Located in northern B.C., the Peace River Break forms the narrowest part of the Yellowstone to Yukon region. Currently it faces several major threats, most notably the proposed Site C hydro dam, as well as extensive oil and gas development, coal and coalbed methane development, and metallic mineral mining. Additionally, wind-energy development also threatens critical caribou habitat.

Farmland in the Peace River valley. Photo: Larry Peterson

According to Global Forest Watch Canada, the rate of land-use change in this region is higher than that of the Alberta oil sands.

“We know that the hundreds of projects taking place in the Peace are consuming natural habitats at a faster rate than in northern Alberta,” emphasizes Y2Y President, Karsten Heuer. “We need to reverse this trend and ensure northern and southern wildlife populations can continue to move through this critical pinch point. Having Tim in the region is critical to achieve this goal.”

Focus on Peace

In the past two years, Y2Y has made gains to develop a conservation strategy for this region jointly with local stakeholders.

As Peace River Break Coordinator based in Chetwynd, B.C., Tim is working to advance the specific outcomes of this strategy, including advocating for new protected areas and other conservation opportunities on public land, engaging in species-at-risk conservation planning, working within other land-use planning/conservation initiatives, and liaising with private land conservation organizations.

Garden harvest from the Peace River valley. Photo: Larry Peterson.

Although only a few months on the job, Tim is already working with some of the region’s First Nations to identify and advance shared priorities for landscape and biodiversity conservation work in the Peace. He will continue to build and strengthen the broad network of partners committed to implementing this conservation strategy, including expanding Y2Y’s working relationships with important regional groups, such as guides and outfitters, farmers, and the B.C. Ministry of the Environment.

Who is Tim?

“Tim is the perfect person for this job,” explains Y2Y’s Senior Conservation Program Manager, Sarah Cox. “He has a personal connection to the area, having spent most of his life in B.C. and conducted the research for his Masters degree in the Peace region. He also has a rich background in community organizing and campaigning for positive change.”

Tim’s research expertise in natural resources, and experience as an organizer for non-profit, electoral and labor campaigns at the municipal, provincial and national levels will be key for his new job. His work as a researcher for the Cohen Commission, which examined the collapse of Sockeye Salmon fisheries on the Fraser River, will provide valuable insights into the inner workings of key government agencies, and a blueprint for how input from multiple partners can produce a well-researched and valuable tool to recover threatened species.

Ultimately, Tim’s research on conservation mapping in the Peace led him to Y2Y’s work to build a conservation vision for the region. “I’m so excited to work with Y2Y in such a beautiful and rich landscape,” says Tim. “The Peace River Break is a very special part of B.C.; while there are great challenges in balancing responsible resource development with conserving critical habitat, the value local communities and first nations have for the land means there are lots of partners to connect with. It’s a great place to work!”