Recommended Plan Calls For Watershed Protection Emphasis
Excerpt from the Peel Watershed Land Use Plan, Dec. 3, 2009 -
“We heard that the Peel Watershed is unusual. Not just in the Yukon, but in Canada and in the world. Other places are beautiful, other places have animals, and other places have rivers and wetlands and mountains and tundra. Our planning area has these assets in abundance, but that’s not what makes it so unique. The really important asset of the Peel country is that it is extensive, undeveloped, and largely devoid of roads. In short, it is beautiful, rich, and wild, and therefore both unusual and unusually valuable – as it is.”
After tabling a flawed draft plan earlier this year, the Peel Watershed Planning Commission today delivered a much improved recommended land use plan that moves far closer to what the great majority of the Yukon public, affected First Nations, conservation and tourism organizations have been advocating – protection for the Peel watershed! While it’s too soon to comment on all the plan details, the Commission created a workable framework that sets out a compelling and credible vision for the future – including protection for the Three Rivers country and a majority of the greater Peel watershed. As the Plan states, “a conservative, cautious plan preserves society’s options.” See www.peel.planyukon.ca to read the full recommended plan.
- Special Management Area (SMA) status for about 80% of the Peel watershed. SMAs are land use zones that can be converted into legally protected areas such as parks, wildlife management areas, wilderness preserves and other types of conservation lands. SMAs are the basic tool for protection in the Yukon under the First Nation land claim agreements. Integrated Management Areas make up about 20% of the plan. This means that 80% of the Peel has a protection emphasis, an outcome that truly reflects this region’s global conservation importance.
- the entire Snake watershed, a key habitat for the Bonnet Plume woodland caribou herd, and one of the Yukon’s premiere canoeing and scenic mountain landscapes, recommended as a fully protected area within an SMA, without allowance for industrial road access.
- the Wind, Bonnet Plume and Hart watersheds included as SMAs, but in this case, recommended for a mosaic of conservation tools such as habitat protection area, or watershed protection. These recommendations mean that the well known Three Rivers country plus the Hart River have a fighting chance to have their free ranging wildlife and boreal ecosystem integrity protected for all time.
- several other large and ecologically important areas such as the upper Blackstone watershed, Richardson Mountains and Turner Lake wetlands recommended for wilderness protection. The total area recommended for full protection status within the SMA zone is about 31% of the whole planning area.
- the Plan says that all further mining claim staking in the SMA zones, (about 80% of the Peel watershed), should cease. In these areas the Plan recommends that no new roads be allowed, without a formal plan amendment, and further that the so-called Wind River Road (a winter access trail) no longer be considered an existing industrial access road.
- the Plan recognizes existing mining claims and oil and gas leases, but access should only be allowed by air, or through a specific plan amendment approved by the parties. This recommendation does not preclude corporations from voluntarily relinquishing their claims for the public good – a precedent already well established in the Yukon and elsewhere.
- the plan is very explicit in its direct links to the First Nation land claim agreements, and therein lays its real strength. The Yukon government insisted that the plan follow these agreements.
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, Up North Adventures), 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.
To order the book directly from the authors, send a cheque or money order payable to Juri Peepre, 1575 Windermere Loop Road, Windermere, BC, V0B 2L2. Price: $24.95 + $1.19 GST + Shipping = $32.00 CDN. For more information, phone 250-688-1005, or post your comment or question in this blog.