Four First Nations affected by the proposed land use plan for the Peel region are united in their goal to protect the watershed. Earlier this year, in a joint response to the recommended plan, the Chiefs said,
“We believe the entire region deserves the very highest level of protection. In our view, none of the land within the watershed should be open to industrial development.”
After years of conservation research and planning, followed by extensive public consultation showing widespread and strong support for watershed protection, the Yukon government now says that more work needs to be done to “develop a rationale” for protection.
Minister of Energy Mines and Resources Minister, Patrick Rouble, states that, “We believe a ban on surface access is not a workable scenario in a region with existing land interests and future development potential.”
Gill Cracknell, of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, asked: “could it be that the government spent all that money and then didn’t listen to what people said?”
The Yukon’s Peel River Watershed is one of the largest constellations of wild mountain rivers in North America. Industrial development threatens to fragment this stunning landscape and harm its pristine boreal mountain ecosystem. The Peel Planning Commission recommends protecting 80% of the watershed, while First Nations have called for 100% protection. Recent polls show a large majority of Yukon residents support protection.
For information on the campaign to protect the Peel Watershed:
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Paddlers in the upper canyon of the Snake River. © Juri Peepre