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Public Opinion Poll Shows Vast Majority of Yukoners Strongly Favour Peel Protection

Whitehorse – Results from a July 2009 DataPath Systems poll commissioned by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-Yukon Chapter (CPAWS-Yukon) and the Yukon Conservation Society (YCS), financed in conjunction with the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon (TIAY), shows that 78% of Yukoners want more than half of the Peel watershed permanently protected from roads and all industrial activities.

The poll shows that the public is tracking the ongoing discussions about the future of the Peel watershed and that 75% of Yukoners feel that the main priority in the Peel watershed should be protection of the environment, wildlife and wilderness.

“To our knowledge this is the first statistically accurate information about how Yukon people want the lands and waters of the Peel watershed to be managed, and the results show overwhelmingly that Yukoners want to see the Peel protected,” says CPAWS-Yukon Executive Director, Mike Dehn.

Further, the poll shows that natural areas, abundant wildlife and wilderness are among the most important reasons why Yukoners choose to live here and that the vast majority (85%) of Yukoners endorse protected areas as a way of ensuring that the values important to them continue to exist.

“There has clearly been a shift in Yukoners’ attitudes since the days of the Klondike Gold Rush,” says YCS Executive Director, Karen Baltgailis, “and this poll clearly illustrates the true value of wilderness protection to today’s Yukoners.”

The poll shows that 91% of Yukoners think roads should not be allowed in any river corridors or important wildlife and wilderness areas in the Peel Watershed. It also shows that 72% of Yukoners think roads in the watershed would have a major impact on the health of wildlife populations.

“The Planning Commission’s draft Peel plan tried to combine roads, mining, and oil and gas development all on the same landscape as wilderness tourism and healthy wildlife,” says Dehn. “This poll shows that Yukon people believe that the only way to protect the incredibly valuable wilderness and wildlife we have in the Peel is to have large areas that are fully protected from roads and industrial development.”

“This poll clearly shows what the Yukon voting public wants the Yukon Government and the Peel Planning Commission to accomplish in the Peel,” says Baltgailis. “It is critical they consider this information.”

YCS and CPAWS-Yukon point out that the results of this survey are in line with the findings reported by the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board’s 20:20 survey earlier this year, in which 86% of Yukoners said that environmental issues were the most important factor when making decisions.

The organizations that commissioned the poll wanted to be sure that it was above suspicion of bias. The poll was pre-tested to a greater extent than normal, and respondents were asked who they thought was sponsoring the survey. Less than half of the respondents thought an environmental organization was the sponsor.

“This survey is larger than most done in the Yukon and has a high degree of precision,” says Donna Larson of DataPath Systems, who conducted the poll. “My clients and I were aware that the Peel planning process is a controversial issue, so we were extremely careful to ensure that the survey was impartial, non-leading and non-biased.”

The poll’s margin of error is +/- 4.3% at 95% confidence levels.

View the Peel Watershed Poll Report at CPAWS Yukon\'s site.

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For further information, contact:

Mike Dehn
Executive Director
(867) 393-8080, ext. 2

Karen Baltgailis
Executive Director
Yukon Conservation Society
(867) 668-5678

Donna Larson
DataPath Systems
(867) 660-4600