Archive for February, 2009

Yukon Wild Rivers: Plan Your Northern Trip, Help Protect These Watersheds

Sunday, February 8th, 2009


Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed: A Traveller’s Guide, is your complete source for planning a trip to the Yukon’s north-eastern wilderness – and learning more about the natural and cultural history of this inspiring landscape. Published in 2008 by Juri Peepre and Sarah Locke, the book is available from independent outlets and on-line from . Wild Rivers is an essential companion to help you navigate the Three Rivers country (the Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume), as well as the Peel, Hart, Ogilvie, Blackstone and Rat rivers.


This well illustrated field reference will be a welcome gift for your friends or family who are thinking about a future northern canoeing or hiking trip.  For more information, see About Our Book.


Peel Watershed Planning Commission Releases Scenarios for Future


After more than four years of work and extensive consultation, the Peel Watershed Land Use Planning Commission has released three planning scenarios for the Peel region. Unfortunately, the Commission hurt the credibility of the planning process by first releasing two scenarios based on broad public consultation, then posting an impromptu third scenario after a private meeting with the mining industry – a perverse scenario that reflects the mining industry’s opposition to any protected areas in the Peel watershed. See for maps and plans.


The planning options range from fully protecting more than 54% of the Peel watershed, encompassing all or parts of four major tributaries (Scenario 2), to protecting about 16% that would save the Bonnet Plume watershed, and part of the upper Snake River (Scenario 1). The third late-comer scenario would protect only the upper part of the Snake and Bonnet Plume watersheds and some of the Hart River caribou herd range, leaving vast areas of the Peel basin open to unfettered free entry mining and oil and gas development.


Conservation science points to the need to protect 35-75% of boreal landscapes to maintain ecological integrity, biodiversity, resilience, and predator-prey ecosystems.


Scenario 1 would protect the Bonnet Plume Canadian Heritage River, but it only encompasses a small part of the upper Snake River and leaves out the Wind and Hart watersheds altogether. This scenario falls far short of conservation measures that would ensure the protection of wilderness and cultural values, ecological integrity and wide-ranging wildlife species. It would not meet the basic goals and objectives set out by the Planning Commission.


Scenario 2 is a strong and more balanced proposal that would protect the Hart, Wind, Bonnet Plume and the upper Snake River watersheds, while leaving a large portion of the surrounding region open to appropriate development. However, Scenario 2 needs to be improved to fully protect more of the lower Snake River watershed – a beautiful and ecologically critical area, one that is essential to support a viable conservation and tourism-based economy. Some less important areas slated for protection within Scenario 2 could be conserved with strict zoning and regulations, but more of the Snake watershed is deserving of full protection.


Scenario 3, with an incoherent patchwork of land use zones and a sorely inadequate area identified for protection, is not a credible planning option for the Peel watershed. It fails basic scientific and common sense tests that would meet our minimum conservation responsibilities in this remarkable region.


The Commission is seeking public comments until the end of February 2009, as it prepares to select a preferred scenario for the future of this wild and biologically diverse region. Two First Nations – the Nacho Nyak Dun and the Tetl’it Gwich’in – have agreed to work together on conservation in the Peel watershed.


Check out a great new short video on the Peel Watershed: “Its Your Decision” posted by CPAWS-Yukon.


Learn more and take action.


Visit for a brochure on the planning options, a report on the planning scenarios, and a full set of maps. Fill in the Planning Commission’s questionnaire on your preferred scenario for the future of the Peel watershed.


Your voice is important. Go to and follow the Three Rivers links to learn more about the campaign to protect the watersheds and wildlife of the Peel. Write a letter to the Peel Planning Commission to express your support for fully protecting at least 50% of the watershed.


For more information on why the Peel should be protected, see our Peel Conservation Background. You’ll also find more information on the Peel Planning Commission’s work in the blog postings below