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Yukon Government’s Peel vision fails, say CPAWS Yukon and YCS

  • Published on Feb 25 2011 |
  • This article is tagged as: peel

Whitehorse – The Yukon government has not produced a vision for the Peel watershed that will protect the area's wilderness and cultural values say CPAWS Yukon and the Yukon Conservation Society (YCS). In response to separate documents released on Tuesday by the Yukon and First Nations governments, both CPAWS Yukon & YCS point out that while the First Nations put forward a vision of the Peel watershed as a cultural homeland and a unique protected area that will contribute to balance in the Yukon, the Yukon government's response falls dismally short.

"At the same time as the Yukon government claims to recognize the unique and special values of the Peel, it is calling for the same approach in the Peel that has failed elsewhere – a multiple use landscape with industry and road access. This is the same lack of vision which has degraded wilderness and cultural values everywhere it has been tried," said Mike Dehn, Executive Director of CPAWS Yukon.

While the Yukon's response recognizes that there may be some protected areas within the Peel, its response to the Recommended Peel Plan calls for mixed land use, including extractive industry and road access throughout a good deal of the Peel watershed. After recognizing the Peel watershed as a unique and largely pristine area with cultural and environmental significance, the government document asks for further 'rationale' for any protected areas.

"How much more rationale do you need? asks Karen Baltgailis, Executive Director of YCS. "The Planning Commission spent years examining the importance of the Peel watershed. The Yukon is in the middle of the largest exploration and mining boom in its history. It is difficult to understand industry and government's argument that industrial activity in the Peel is necessary to our future, particularly given the remoteness of the watershed."

In addition, there is no evidence that the Yukon has paid any attention whatsoever to the public consultations conducted in affected Yukon communities last fall, or to the results of the web-based consultation, says Gill Cracknell of CPAWS Yukon. "The comments of Yukoners are publicly available on the web, and even a brief look at them shows how clearly and strongly Yukoners spoke out for protecting 100% of the Peel from extractive industry and roads. Could it be that the government spent all that money and then didn't listen to what people said?"

In large part the Yukon Government's response reflects a refusal to acknowledge the values and rationale put forth in the Recommended Plan," says Dehn. The Recommended Plan calls for protecting just over 80% of the Peel watershed from industrial development and roads. In sharp contrast, First Nations have exhibited a clarity and vision which speaks so well for us all. It is easy to see why other Yukoners have overwhelmingly joined in the call for protecting the Peel watershed.

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For further information, contact:

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

Gill Cracknell
Peel Campaigner
CPAWS Yukon
(867) 393-8080, ext. 6