Yukon's Peel River Watershed Campaign
The Yukon's Peel Watershed is home to the greatest constellation of wild mountain rivers in North America. Almost seven times larger than Yellowstone National Park or Jasper National Park, the area supports both abundant northern wildlife populations and ancient First Nation cultures. It is the northern anchor of the Y2Y vision of a network of protected areas connected by wildlife movement corridors. If legislated according to recent recommendations, the Peel would be the largest protected area in the Y2Y region.
Photo: Juri Peepre
For years, the remote and rugged nature of the Peel landscape protected it from industrial development. Now, the skyrocketing price of minerals has triggered a similar hike in mineral claims. If multinational corporations punch in roads and infrastructure, the floodgates of development will be opened, never to close again.
An independent commission released its final recommendations to the Yukon Government on July 25th, 2011. In it the Peel Watershed Planning Commission recommend protection of 80% of the Peel, and call for one continuous protected area where new roads or industrial development would not be allowed. The fate of the Peel is now in the hands of the industry-friendly Yukon Government.
Despite six years of thorough consultation and careful consideration that went into developing the Peel Land Use Planning Commission’s Final Recommended Plan, the Yukon Government decided to shelve it. The Government’s alternative, called a Regional Land Use Plan, is in sharp contrast to the recommendations set-forth by the independent commission, allowing roads, mining and oil and gas development in the majority of the Yukon’s treasured Peel Watershed.
What the People Want
The Yukon government completed its final round of public consultations on the future of the Peel watershed Feb. 25, 2013. Over 650 Y2Y'ers participated in the process.
A review of all the feedback by an independent consultant commissioned by CPAWS-Yukon determined that 94% support the Planning Commission's recommendations. And of these, 82% came from the Yukon and NWT.
This gives the Yukon government a clear mandate to move forward.
We are expecting a decision sometime in 2013.
Protect the Peel
David Suzuki shares his insights on why the Yukon's Peel watershed requires protection.
An alliance of Canadian conservation groups, including Yukon-based organizations, First Nations and tourism operators, is making tangible progress toward protecting the Peel River Watershed. Through the joint Protect the Peel campaign, action alerts, petitions and letters to the government, the alliance seeks show the Yukon Government that the entire continent is paying attention, and supports the final recommendations made by the Peel Watershed Planning Commission.
August 7, 2013 - Robert Kennedy Jr. wades into the Peel debate
When Robert Kennedy Jr. came to Whitehorse to paddle the Alsek River and talk about resource extraction, a few hundred people showed up at the Yukon Arts Centre to hear what he had to say. Learn more...
November 9, 2012 - Tourism and Environment sidelined on Peel
The Yukon Liberal Party has uncovered more evidence that the departments of Tourism and the Environment were ignored by their political masters during the Peel planning process. Click here to read the full Yukon News article.
November 2, 2012 - Tr'ondek chief dismisses new Peel plans
The First Nations involved with the Peel planning process want the government to retract their new plans, said Chief Eddie Taylor of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in. Read more.
October 29, 2012 - Yukon could be dragged to court over Peel
The First Nations involved with the Peel planning process are ready for a legal battle if the Yukon government does not live up to its treaty obligations. Click here to read the article.
October 24, 2012 - Yukon unveils revised Peel watershed plan
The Yukon government unveiled its version of a land-use plan for the Peel watershed on Tuesday, and it’s designed to accommodate more development. Read the CBC article here.
September 5, 2012 - Youth group keeps miners out of Yukon Watershed
Members of the Peel Youth Alliance (PYA, a group of young Yukoners) are celebrating “a crucial victory” by announcing the Yukon Government has agreed to extend a controversial mining staking ban in the Peel Watershed. Learn more here.
May 13, 2012 - The Yukon's gold rush shows no signs of slowing, but environmentalists fear for watershed's safety
More than 20% of the Yukon’s land mass is set aside for potential resource exploitation. This season that is expected to increase to 30%. More...
May 10, 2012 - Peel protesters rally outside Yukon legislature
More than 100 Yukoners concerned about the Peel Watershed rallied outside the legislature Thursday on the last day of the spring sitting. Read more.
The Yukon legislature shut down briefly Wednesday when two dozen young people protested the government’s plan for the Peel River watershed. Read the full CBC article here.
March 14, 2012 - Ecologists urge protection for missing piece of Waterton-Glacier
On a map, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park resembles a slightly-misshapen topographic pizza with a big slice missing. This week, three leading ecologists with varied backgrounds converged on Whitefish to explain why extending national park protections to that missing piece – which represents a 100,000-acre chunk of Canadian wilderness – is critical to preserving one of the most intact aquatic ecosystems in North America. Click here to read the article.
To the dismay of many Yukoners, the Peel Watershed, one of the world's largest and most pristine ecosystems, may soon be opened to increased development. Read more.
February 21, 2012 - Yukon outfitters angry over Peel plan
Some Yukon outfitters are speaking out against the Yukon government's new plan for the Peel region. They're angry over the ruling Yukon Party's decision to leave most of the region open for mining and other development. Read the CBC News article here.
February 16, 2012 - Groups disappointed in Yukon government's Peel plan
Two separate groups say they are disappointed in the Yukon Government's announcement that it will not ban development in the Peel region. Learn more.
February 15, 2012 - Yukon won't ban mining in Peel watershed
In an abrupt about face, the Yukon Government announced that mineral exploration and development, with associated road networks, will be allowed to proceed in the Peel and that only a minority of the watershed will be protected. Click here to read the news story and here to read the response from the Yukon Conservation Society and CPAWS-Yukon.
January 10, 2012 - Highlights: Final recommended Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan
October 5, 2011 - Pasloski misleading public on Peel, say First Nations
The Yukon Party is misleading voters when it says it can't share its position on the Peel watershed plan until consultations are completed, four First Nation leaders say in an open letter to Yukoners. More...
September 26, 2011 - Land use planning, Peel top NDP priorities: Hanson
Land use planning and protection of the Peel watershed would be given top priority if the NDP forms the next Yukon government, party leader Liz Hanson told a news conference Monday. Read the CBC article here.
September 26, 2011 - Posloski to skip environmental forum
The leader of Yukon Party, Darrell Pasloski, has decided to take part in an all-party environment forum tonight in Whitehorse afterall. Read the CBC article here.
September 22, 2011 - Liberals reiterate Peel watershed plan support
August 20, 2011 - As industry encroaches, Yukoners make last stand to preserve unspoiled wilderness
Yukon government records show there were 8,431 mining claims staked in the Peel watershed at the start of this year. Star columnist, Paul Watson, tours the Peel Watershed to see what is at stake if the moratorium on mining was removed. Read Paul's article here.
August 19, 2011 - A majestic Yukon where humans are still outsiders
Star columnist, Paul Watson, looks at the pending fate of the Peel Watershed, the implications of it being an election issue and the perspective of those who wish to save it. Read more.
August 1, 2011 - David Suzuki demands full Peel watershed protection
One of Canada's most prominent environmentalists, David Suzuki, is wading into the debate over the protection of Yukon's Peel River watershed. Read the CBC article here.
July 27, 2011 - Peel planners stick to their guns
The Peel Watershed Planning Commission's work is done. Its final recommendations, released July 25th, 2011, stick with earlier plans to protect four-fifths of the vast, Scotland-sized swath of northeast Yukon. Read the Yukon News article in full.
July 22, 2011 - How long will Canada's final frontier stay wild?
In this Globe and Mail article, Bruce Kirkby articulates the threat to Canada's northern frontier and one of Y2Y's priority areas—the Yukon's Peel Watershed. For decades conservation groups have been warning the region needs protection. Soon the Yukon government will face a difficult decision. Learn more about the recommendations the government will either choose to accept or ignore.