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CPAWS Yukon strongly supports large-scale protection recommended in Peel Watershed Land Use Plan

Whitehorse – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Yukon Chapter (CPAWS Yukon) congratulates the Peel Watershed Planning Commission for recommending large-scale protection for the Peel Watershed in their Recommend Plan released last week.

“The Commission has delivered a plan that is fair, far-sighted and responsible,” says CPAWS Yukon Executive Director Mike Dehn. “The Recommended Plan honours the globally important values of the Peel watershed while opening the way for widespread participation and investment in a conservation economy that is sustainable in the long-term.”

The Plan recommends protection designations for a suite of Special Management Areas comprising 80% of the planning area, where road access will also be prohibited.

“The Recommended Plan reflects the kind of large-scale wilderness protection which the Yukon public clearly expressed support for earlier this year in the DataPath poll,” says Gill Cracknell of CPAWS Yukon,. “Unfortunately, the Plan does not recommend removing the thousands of mining claims which already exist in areas recommended for protection, which we would ideally like to see.”

“The Yukon will gain worldwide recognition and respect for this timely and far-sighted conservation initiative,” says Dehn. “First Nations have been calling for protection of these lands for decades and now, given the overwhelming support voiced by Yukoners for large-scale protection in the Peel, the government stands to gain by fulfilling their commitment to honour the findings of the Commission and move this plan quickly into the implementation phase.”

“In the meantime, it is crucial that the Yukon government implement a moratorium on mineral staking in the areas of the Peel recommended for protection,” says Dehn. “This is something that both the Commission and First Nations requested early in the planning process, but the Yukon government adopted a ‘business as usual’ stand. The result has been an extended nuisance staking rush in areas which are ecologically and culturally important. However, it is now apparent to everyone that there is an absolute necessity of a moratorium on further staking in areas proposed for protection in the Peel. The Yukon government has frequently stated its commitment to the planning process, and we would expect the government will maintain this commitment. The Yukon can respect the work of the Commission by passing an Order in Council withdrawing this land from further staking and proceeding with good-faith consultations with the First Nation Parties to the plan.”

“The Commission has done an excellent job of explaining the reasons for each of its recommendations and has provided stakeholders with the certainty they need to develop their businesses,” says Cracknell. “In addition to wilderness tourism and outfitting, which are already important and stable contributors to the Yukon economy, this opens the door to exciting opportunities for Yukoners in general and for First Nations citizens in particular for cultural and backcountry tourism, training, employment, and business opportunities.”

CPAWS Yukon represents a broad and diverse range of Yukon citizens who believe in protecting the natural values of the Territory.

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For further information, contact:
Mike Dehn
Executive Director
(867) 393-8080, ext. 2    

Gill Cracknell
Peel Coordinator
(867) 393-8080, ext. 6