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Conservation groups welcome Yukon decision to halt new industrial exploration in Peel watershed


Whitehorse –  The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and the Yukon Conservation Society (YCS) are very pleased with an announcement yesterday by the Government of Yukon that all lands in the Peel Watershed Region will be withdrawn from mineral staking for one year effective immediately “in order to provide certainty during the ongoing regional land use planning process”.

The CPAWS Yukon chapter has been working for a decade to conserve the Peel watershed,  a spectacular Boreal wilderness area that is home to the Three Rivers- the Peel, the Snake and the Bonnet Plume, the world’s largest remaining populations of Boreal woodland caribou and many other great wildlife species.

In January, CPAWS and the Yukon Conservation Society  jointly issued a request to the Yukon government to halt any further industrial exploration activities until a final land use plan for this region, which encompasses over 68,000 km2, is accepted.

“We are thrilled that the government has issued this order. This means that we’ll now have the necessary breathing space to continue the land use planning process for the Peel, without further complications or harm to the land due to inappropriate industrial activities,” says CPAWS Yukon Chapter Executive Director Mike Dehn.

Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie said in the government’s news releas: “This interim withdrawal ensures that the public, stakeholders and First Nations involved in the process can fully review and assess the plan on the basis of the current mineral claims in the region. This withdrawal will allow work on existing mineral claims while enabling continued progress on the region’s planning process.”

 The Yukon government’s release also states that “Effective immediately, the staking withdrawal applies to subsurface mineral staking administered under the Quartz Mining Act and Placer Mining Act until February 4, 2011. Rights for oil and gas, and coal will also not be issued in the region during this period.”

“Current regulatory processes for surface activities will continue to apply throughout the region. This interim staking withdrawal does not pre-determine any outcomes in the planning process.”

To complete the planning process, the Government of Yukon says it is working collaboratively with the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun; Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation; Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in; and the Gwich’in Tribal Council.

The government further states that “Later this year, the public and other stakeholders will be provided with opportunities to offer their perspectives on the Recommended Plan.”

“CPAWS and YCS will be continuing to participate in the planning process to ensure the best possible conservation outcome for the Peel watershed, respecting the rights of local First Nations. We thank all of our supporters who have helped us in this effort to date, and look forward to continuing to work with you.”
 
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Contact:

Mike Dehn, CPAWS Yukon
867-393-8080 ext 2

Karen Baltgailis, Yukon Conservation Society
867-668-5678

For more information on the Peel Watershed Regional Planning process, visit www.emr.gov.yk.ca.

Yukon Government Press Release
http://www.gov.yk.ca/news/2010/10-018.html