Archive for August, 2010

New Momentum to Protect the Peel

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Public Comments on Peel Plan Due October 1

The Yukon government will accept public comment on the recommended Peel Watershed Land Use Plan until October 1st. Earlier this year the Peel Planning Commission called for 80% of the watershed to be protected using a variety of conservation tools, such as parks, wilderness areas, and habitat protection areas. (See information posts below)  While Yukon NGOs and affected First Nations generally support the plan’s direction, First Nations have stated their goal of protecting 100% of the Peel watershed.

The Yukon government needs to hear from Yukoners, Canadians and global citizens who support protecting this vital constellation of wild mountain watersheds in Canada’s boreal forest.

To take action and send your letter, visit:

 www.protectpeel.ca

For more information on the recommended plan, visit:

 www.planyukon.ca

Lone bull caribou on a ridge above Reptile Creek

Lone bull caribou on a ridge above Reptile Creek

First Nations Ask Chevron to Give Up Iron Ore Leases

Two Yukon First Nations, the Nacho Nyak Dun and Tr’ondek Hwech’in, have asked Chevron Canada and the parent company, based in San Ramon California, to recognize the First Nations’ desire to prevent industrial development in the region by giving up their large block of iron ore leases next to the Snake River, in support of protecting the watershed. The company has not responded to the First Nations repeated requests.

Earlier this year, Yukon NGOs also approached Chevron to relinquish their iron ore interests and participate in a major conservation achievement.  But this summer the company said it was not interested in giving up the leases.  The remote and inaccessible Crest iron ore deposit is unlikely to ever be developed,  and in any case is a minor asset for Chevron – what advantage does the company see in ignoring the First Nations and public conservation interest, just to maintain a risky mineral property and perpetuate the conflict?

I paddled the Snake River again this summer, and was struck once more by the sheer beauty and diversity of the watershed.  During our walks into the mountains and valleys next to the river, we watched dozens of mountain caribou, Dall’s sheep ewes and lambs, and striking two-toned  blond and brown grizzly bears feeding on the slopes.  In the Mount MacDonald area, the giant dark peaks and deep valleys mottled with luxuriant bearflower meadows are the essence of the “magic and mystery“ turn of phrase often used to evoke the spirit of the Yukon.

As the Snake River nears the edge of the mountains at Iron Creek, row upon row of castellations guard the ridges.  The valley is broad now, and to the north the low horizon marks the start of the Peel plateau.  It’s here, within habitat for sheep, caribou and grizzly bears that Chevron’s Crest iron ore deposit lies. The idea of a massive open pit mine in this place, with swaths of industrial roads cut into the valleys and along the banks of the Snake River seems impossible to contemplate.  Chevron has little to gain from developing or selling this dormant mining property, but could instead show genuine corporate leadership and contribute to protecting the beauty and life of the Snake River for all time.

Approaching the Canyon Ranges and Chevron's Crest iron ore leases

Approaching the Canyon Ranges and Chevron's Crest iron ore leases

For more information and to take action, visit:

 www.protectpeel.ca