Dorothy Bradley leaves her vehicle at Eagle Bay Park, where Whistle Bend Way and Range Road meet, and walks to the bench overlooking McIntyre Creek.
It is a 10-minute walk along a path that is dappled with bright yellow aspen leaves. To the left is a boreal forest of jack pine, to her right is a steep dropoff that lays before her a stunning vista.
Joe Mountain is the majestic background beneath rolling clouds.
The meandering Yukon River is in the middle of this picture and, seemingly at her feet, is McIntyre Creek, which feeds into it.
Looking down, she sees eagles patrolling from their nests to the river’s edge. And, above, ravens swoop down to tease her bear dog, Chico.
But there is something new going on: “Look, there is the start of a beaver dam,” says Bradley.
“That explains why the water level was rising and, there, there are trees chopped down.”
She had actually walked up to the edge of the bluff to look for garbage. As the chair of the Friends of McIntyre Creek, she is planning the next garbage pickup event and she wanted to know where they should start.
But there is no garbage to be seen – from here, at least – so she continues on to the bench that oversees a stunning view of McIntyre Creek and is strategically placed to force you to actually “hike” to get to it.
That bench is a gift from the Friends of McIntyre Creek.
“There was a lot of people coming down here to watch the birds and I felt that the people in Whistle Bend needed to know that we care about this and they can enjoy it, too,” says Bradley.
“You can stand here a long time enjoying it so, here, have a bench to sit on.”
This is just one part of McIntyre Creek that Bradley and her board and volunteers help protect.
And, by “protect”, she means keeping it clean and ensuring development does not harm its unique ecosystem.
“This is a wildlife corridor,” she explains. “For bigger wildlife and smaller, they go from the Southern Lake area to Lake Laberge and back.
“What really started my interest was motorized vehicles in here; I love riding on quads, but they were destroying the environment; if [quad drivers] aren’t happy with the trail they are on, they will make a new one.
“There is spawning happening, and the silt being stirred up and floating downstream is causing unknown damage.”
Bradley created Friends of McIntyre Creek in 2009 after a few years of working within the Porter Creek Neighbourhood Association.
“Anytime there was development happening, or talk of it, there was a cry from people from Porter Creek or Takhini saying, ‘No, you aren’t developing in McIntyre Creek,’” she says.
Having a society take responsibility for this pristine, natural setting in the middle of the city was welcomed by all levels of government, including First Nations, which have a stake in the area.
Bradley figures she spends 10 hours a month working on the financial books, applying for grants, board meetings and contributing to social media through its Facebook page and Twitter account.
“I’ve been trying to encourage people to join,” she says. “I wish we had more input.”
Do volunteers have to be “tree huggers”?
Bradley laughs: “Maybe, but if you just like to be outside and be active, it is good to be part of our organization.
“ATV users? Yeah, we need their input. The Klondike Snowmobile Association was a member at the beginning.”
Bradley calls McIntyre Creek “the heart of Whitehorse”. It is easy to forget that the downtown core is just a 10-minute walk away.
“We are monitoring what is going on in the creek,” she says. “We are trying to make sure it stays clean.
“We have an eco-forum every two years and we are available for any fight that comes along.”
Friends of McIntyre Creek will hold its annual garbage collection on Saturday, September 23, beginning at 10 a.m.
Participants are asked to meet at the gazebo on the Fish Lake Road for bags and directions. Lunch will be served at the gazebo at noon.