Hiking in the Yukon. Image: Pat Morrow
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"I left inspired to protect the special places in my own backyard."
Sara Renner, Y2Y supporter

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Why Protect the Peel Watershed?

Yukon's Peel Watershed is one of the largest areas on Earth that has not been altered by the hand of man.

Far up north in Canada’s Yukon Territory, thousands of miles away from most of the globe’s human populations, lies 68,000 square kilometers (26,255 square miles) of wild, intact lands, an area seven times larger than Yellowstone National Park. There are few places of such size remaining on Earth that have not been altered by the hand of man.

Why You Should Care About the Peel

Climate change is one of the world’s top issues. Even President Barack Obama led off his inaugural address calling on Americans to take the lead in developing the technologies necessary for the emerging low-carbon economy.

One of the best strategies to tackle this growing concern is by keeping wild spaces wild – and the Peel is as wild as it gets! Unfortunately, it won't remain that way, unless we protect it.

And if that isn't reason enough, spending time in nature is just plain good for your health.

Photo: Juri Peepre
Carbon Sequester: An excess of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is one of the key contributors to climate change. Burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and cutting down trees only adds to the issue. The vegetative cover and intact ecosystems like the peat lands on the Peel Plateau feed off the carbon dioxide and sequester a significant amount of CO2. This can reduce the elements that contribute to global warming.

Wildlife Refuge: Portions of the Peel watershed remained ice-free through the last Ice Age, a factor contributing to the rare and unique plant and animal communities found there today. As the Earth faces a new era of climate change, the Peel Watershed could again become a refuge - a large, connected and naturally functioning ecosystem providing survivable conditions for species likely to be at risk elsewhere. Maintaining wildlife diversity is part of a healthy ecosystem that supports the survival of the human species. Read more.

Porcupine Caribou Herd winters in the Peel- Photo: Karsten Heuer

Nature is good for our Health: We all know it - experiencing nature is good for us. Outside Magazine even published two articles (You Need a Braincation and Free Medicine) that identified the health benefits of getting outside. Not only does the Peel offer world class outdoor recreational experiences, especially river travel on the tributaries of the Peel, but also it is one of the few places on earth where we can see large tracts of land in an unspoiled state. In an increasingly developed world, it is important to protect this experience not only for us but for our grand-children!

The Waiting Game

The Yukon government would like to develop as much as 86% of this landscape, while affected First Nations and a majority of Yukoners would like to PROTECT 80% of it.

The Yukon government completed its final round of public consultations on the future of the Peel watershed Feb. 25, 2013. More than 7,500 people asked the government to implement the Peel Planning Commission's Final Recommended Plan, including over 650 Y2Y'ers. The Commission's plan would permanently protect 55% of the watershed, and protect 25% until future plan reviews.

In May 2013, the Yukon government has renewed the moratorium on new mineral claims and oil, gas and coal rights for its portion of the Peel River watershed until the end of the year.

Y2Y and its partners will continue to put pressure on the Yukon government to ensure that the area is fully protected.

Photo: Juri Peepre