Archive for March, 2009

Yukon Wild Rivers: Plan Your Northern Journey

Monday, March 2nd, 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 Yukon outdoor and bookstores, Mountain Equipment Co-op (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto), 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 posted in the right margin.


NEWS UPDATE (April 29, 2009): The Peel Planning Commission has released the “Draft Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan.” Visit to download the full plan or summary brochure.


The draft plan fails to address the strong public call for a high level of protection in the pristine watersheds of the Peel – in fact, the plan does not propose full legal protection for any of the key tributaries, such as the Snake, Wind, Bonnet Plume or Hart rivers. The draft plan allocates just over 11% of the watershed for full protection, most of this previously identified through Gwich’in land use plans covering the plateau country of the lower Peel. None of the Three Rivers are slated for protected area status. Instead the draft plan calls for designation of a “general wilderness zone” where new mineral claim staking would be curtailed, but where the 10,000 existing mineral claims would be grandfathered, and (this is the kicker) new industrial roads would be permitted into the heart of the Wind, Bonnet Plume and Snake watersheds. This is not a progressive land use or conservation plan; it’s a clever way to continue business as usual in the Peel watershed under a cloak of green language.


This deeply flawed approach to “future” conservation would rely on hypothetical Yukon government willingness to withdraw further lands from mineral claim staking, yet not ask them to create significant new parks or protected areas – a very unlikely scenario. The “wilderness conservation zone” is akin to urban “open space” zones, which are usually allocated to industry or other development as opportunities arise. The net result of the draft plan would be a large industrial development zone in the core of the Peel watershed. This plan must be sent back to the drawing board and re-worked to provide for full protection of entire watersheds, similar to those proposed in earlier planning scenarios. It’s hard to fathom, after the depth of scientific and cultural information alongside public wishes, why the Planning Commission failed to identify strong protection for even one of the premiere tributaries in the Peel watershed.


See background details on the planning scenarios and conservation issues below. A full analysis of the draft plan will be posted here in early May.


Help Protect This Boreal Mountain Wilderness


Read “Peel Watershed – Yukon’s wilderness a gift to the world”


A commentary by Juri Peepre, that appeared in the Yukon News, March 20.



Watch the new Peel watershed video: “It’s Your Decision”


Posted by CPAWS-Yukon.



Peel Planning Commission Begins Work on

Preferred Scenario for the Watershed’s Future


In January, 2009, after more than four years of work and extensive consultation, the Peel Watershed Land Use Planning Commission released three planning scenarios for the Peel region. The public comment period for these scenarios closed on February 28, and the Commission is now working on a preferred scenario to be released later this spring.


The planning options range from fully protecting about 54% of the Peel watershed, encompassing all or parts of four major tributaries (Scenario 2), to protection of about 16% that would save the Bonnet Plume watershed, and part of the upper Snake River (Scenario 1). Conservation science literature points to the need to protect 35-75% of boreal landscapes to maintain ecological integrity, resilience and intact predator-prey ecosystems. Visit to read the report and see the maps for each Scenario.


Scenario 2 is the strongest and most 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 must be improved to fully protect more of the lower Snake River watershed – a scenic and ecologically critical area, essential to support a viable conservation and tourism-based economy. See a summary review of the other Scenarios in the February 8 blog posted below.


Learn more and take action.


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 and Yukon government to express your support for protection.


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



Wild Rivers of the Yukon at Risk

From Changes to Navigable Waters Protection Act


Since 1882, Canadians have had a right to self-propelled navigation on wild rivers by such means as canoe, kayak and raft. The Navigable Waters Protection Act requires that any bridges, booms, dams or causeways are subject to a review of their environmental impacts and effects on navigation. The Harper government now has changed the Act without public scrutiny by burying the legislation in the 2009 federal budget bill.


According to the Canwest News Service, (February 11, 2009), the University of Ottawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic, “concluded the amendments would allow “unfettered discretion” by the federal transport minister to exempt projects or waterways from environmental oversight.” These changes could affect the future ecological integrity and free-flowing nature of wild rivers in the Yukon’s Peel watershed.


Learn more and take action: