Wild Rivers of the Yukon’s Peel Watershed: A Traveller’s Guide, is your complete source for planning a trip to the Yukon’s vast 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 (Mac’s Fireweed), Mountain Equipment Co-op (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto), and on-line from www.yukonbooks.com.
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.
The book features detailed river descriptions, maps, landscape and historic photos, tips on river travel in the Peel region, and engaging descriptions of the flora, fauna, geology, human history and conservation story. For more information, see About Our Book posted in the right margin.
Peel Watershed Draft Plan Released: The Peel Planning Commission has released the “Draft Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan.” Visit www.peel.planyukon.ca to download the full plan or summary brochure.
First Nations Respond
A joint press release (Friday, May 1) by three affected First Nations, the Nacho Nyäk Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, and Tetlit Gwich’in had this to say about the draft plan:
“We feel our voices have not been heard”, said Na Cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn Sr. “The Draft plan recently released by the Commission falls far short of our expectations, we have a long history of asking for protection of the Peel Watershed.”
“We want to prevent industrial impact throughout the entire Peel Watershed. This area is still pristine; it has sustained our people for as long as we can remember. We are calling for a better, more sustainable plan. We have seen enough environmental damage to our homeland” said Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief Eddie Taylor. “We need a plan that protects the land permanently.”
“The draft plan does not go nearly far enough to protect the land” said Teetl’it Gwich’in Chief Wilbert Firth. “We want to leave the land as it is for future generations.”
Snapshot of the Draft Plan
The draft plan fails to address the strong public and First Nations 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, much of this previously identified through Gwich’in land use plans covering the plateau country of the lower Peel.
None of the renowned 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 12,000+ 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 heart of the Peel watershed under a cloak of green language.
Rather than provide the best possible land use recommendations to the Yukon Government and First Nations, which would also reflect the public will, the Planning Commission opted to follow the territorial government’s regressive decree that no mining claims in the Yukon will be expropriated or compensated for in the name of conservation. This essentially means the Yukon government refuses to consider protected areas where mineral claims – viable or not – may exist.
The Commission’s deeply flawed approach to “future” conservation would rely on hypothetical Yukon government willingness to withdraw further lands from mineral claim staking, yet not ask the government to create significant new parks or protected areas – a very unlikely scenario. While the principle of withdrawing further lands from mineral claim staking is excellent, 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. Public comments on the draft plan must be submitted by June 30. See www.peel.planyukon.ca
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.