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Yukon conservation groups call for more protection in draft Peel Watershed Land Use Plan

  • Published on May 05 2009 |
  • This article is tagged as: peel

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society -Yukon Chapter (CPAWS-Yukon) and the Yukon Conservation Society (YCS) are dismayed at the lack of protection afforded to the unique and globally significant conservation values in  the Draft Peel Watershed Land Use Plan released April 28, 2009 by the Yukon and First Nations appointed Peel Planning Commission.

“The Peel Watershed’s unparalleled wilderness character, ecological values and the businesses that they support demand stronger protection,” says Mike Dehn of the CPAWS-Yukon. “Proposing only 11% of small, fragmented pieces of the Peel Watershed for permanent protection from industrialization and granting road access into the heart of the wilderness is totally unacceptable from a conservation perspective.” 

In the last round of public consultation, over 400 letters from the public were received by the Commission. Ninety-five percent of letter writers expressed their desire for a draft plan that would legally protect at least 50% of the Peel Watershed. “There is clearly broad public and First Nations support for protecting a large portion of the land base, including the entire Wind, Snake, Bonnet Plume and Hart River Watersheds,” says Karen Baltgailis of YCS. 

“We’re calling on the Commission to listen more accurately and incorporate the opinions of concerned citizens into the Draft Plan,” she added.

The draft plan allows all-season access to develop existing mining claims in the heart of the Peel Watershed. CPAWS-Yukon and YCS maintain that existing claims should not be used as a reason to avoid protecting a larger proportion of land in the Watershed. 

“Multiple winter and all-season access routes are completely unacceptable for conservation of the biological resources of the region,” says Dehn.  “As Yukoners, we have a unique opportunity to protect a large and fully functioning spectacular ecosystem that accounts for 14% of the Territory, while sustaining a diversified economy. The animals and the habitats they depend on will come under increasing pressure from climate change and we should not be compromising their survival with roads. There are plenty of other, more suitable places to explore and develop mines in the Yukon,” he adds. 

CPAWS-Yukon and YCS represent a broad and diverse range of Yukoners who believe in protecting the natural values of the Territory. The two organizations are urging Yukoners to express their views on the Draft Plan to the Commission by the June 30th deadline for public comment.   

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For more information contact:
 
Mike Dehn 
Executive Director 
CPAWS Yukon
Ph: 867-393-8080 ext. 2 

Karen Baltgailis
Executive Director
Yukon Conservation Society
Ph: 867-668-5678