The Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) is a national river conservation program that was established in 1984. The program provides national recognition to designated rivers and encourages long-term conservation and management of natural and cultural heritage and recreational values.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments work with communities and stewardship groups to promote and conserve Canadian Heritage Rivers. A Canadian Heritage Rivers System designation does not provide legal protection for a river.
In the Northwest Territories there are currently three Canadian Heritage Rivers – Thelon, South Nahanni and Tsiigehnjik (Arctic Red).
Tsiigehnjik was designated as a Canadian Heritage River in 1993. The river is recognized in the Gwich’in Land Use Plan, highlighting its value to the Gwichya Gwich’in.
The Canadian Heritage Rivers System requires ten-year monitoring reports to assess whether designated rivers continue to meet the criteria for designation as a Canadian Heritage River.
The first ten-year monitoring report for the Tsiigehnjik/Arctic Red River was published in 2005, and covered the period 1993-2003.
The second ten-year monitoring report for Tsiigehnjik covers the period 2005-2014. This assessment builds on the first ten-year report, and is based on the river’s cultural, recreational, renewable resource, biodiversity and intrinsic value to local Indigenous community members.
In reviewing the events and research that happened along the river over the ten year period, it appears that climate change is the main threat affecting Tsiigehnjik:
- Increased melting of permafrost and glaciers has affected the amount of water and timing of water flow into the river.
- Spruce Budworm has moved northwards and become established along the river.
- The number and size of landscape slumps on the Peel Plateau, through which the river passes, has increased.
For more information, please visit the Canadian Heritage Rivers System website (www.chrs.ca) and/or the Department of Environment Natural Resources website for a copy of the Tsiigehnjik/Arctic Red River Canadian Heritage Rivers System Ten-Year Monitoring Report 2005-2014.