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CPAWS welcomes news that majority of NWT residents want more lands and waters protected


YELLOWKNIFE and OTTAWA —CPAWS welcomes the results of a public opinion poll released today by McAllister Opinion Research showing that environment and conservation are top priorities for NWT residents.  Ninety percent of respondents said that protecting lands, water and natural ecosystems before industrial development proceeds in the Territories is a high priority.

“These poll results show huge support for our work to establish a network of protected areas in the NWT before large scale industrial development changes the landscape forever,” said Jen Morin, Interim Executive Director of CPAWS’ NWT Chapter.  “This should send a clear message to the federal and territorial governments that NWT residents want concrete action now to protect our lands and waters.”

Federal Environment Minister John Baird committed in January 2007 to protecting a number of important ecological and cultural areas in the NWT, including the Nahanni watershed, Sahoyúé ehdacho on Great Bear Lake, Edéhzhíe (the Horn Plateau), the Ramparts River and Wetlands, and a proposed national park on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. These polling results suggest that protecting these areas from industrial development would enjoy strong public support in the NWT.

For the past five years, CPAWS has been leading a nationwide public campaign to protect the world-renowned South Nahanni Watershed in an expanded national park.  The Prime Minister recently announced that 28,800 sq km of the watershed has been set aside for this purpose.

“With 83 percent of residents supporting the Prime Minister’s planned Nahanni expansion, we expect the federal government to move quickly to permanently protect the area,” said Alison Woodley, CPAWS National Northern Program Manager.  “The poll results also show that most residents do not think that the proposed Prairie Creek mine should proceed within the Nahanni watershed.  We will continue our efforts to stop this and other mining projects in the Nahanni watershed from proceeding.”

Fifty-one percent of respondents felt the proposed Prairie Creek mine – an advanced exploration project in the Nahanni watershed that CPAWS has long opposed -- should not be allowed to proceed, while only 29% felt it should be allowed to go ahead, and 20% were unsure.

The poll also asked residents about the new “Northern Agenda” recently announced by the Prime Minister.  Respondents were most likely to rate addressing global warming and protecting the ecology of the North as the first priority for this agenda (36%).  Giving northerners greater political and economic powers (30%), protecting Arctic sovereignty (16%), and promoting industrial development (14%) were less likely to be viewed as top priorities.

“This should provide clear direction to the Prime Minister and Territorial leaders that a Northern Agenda needs to focus on protecting the sensitive lands and waters of the NWT as a top priority,” said Woodley.

When asked what percentage of total lands in the NWT should be protected from industrial development, 56 percent of respondents felt that more than half of the territory should be protected from industrial development. 

These poll results are a strong endorsement of CPAWS’ vision for Canada that at least half of our public lands and waters should remain wild for the public trust.

CPAWS is Canada\'s voice for wilderness protection. With 13 chapters across Canada and nearly 20,000 members, it has helped to conserve over 40 million hectares of Canada\'s most treasured wild places since 1963.

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For more information

Alison Woodley, National Northern Program Manager (613) 569-7226  ext. 227
Jennifer Morin, Interim Executive Director, CPAWS-NWT Chapter (867) 873-9893 ext 24
www.cpaws.org

To view the polling results:
http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/September2007/24/c3943.html