Protect the Peel
Y2Y is working with its partners to protect 80 per cent of the Peel Watershed and secure this critical core habitat.
(Fusion.net (a cable TV provider affiliated with the ABC network) did this piece on the Peel Watershed at the end of November 2014.)
Almost seven times larger than Yellowstone or Jasper national parks, the Yukon's Peel Watershed is one of the largest intact and unsettled wild places left on Earth. As the northern anchor of the Yellowstone to Yukon vision, this core habitat supports abundant northern wildlife populations such as grizzly bears, wolverines and caribou, which need large intact landscapes to survive. As the Earth faces climate change, the Peel Watershed could become what scientists call a "refugia"– a large, connected and naturally functioning ecosystem providing survivable conditions for species likely to become imperiled elsewhere. Learn more.
The skyrocketing price of minerals triggered a hike in mineral claims, making the Peel the wild west of staking. This type of industrial development in the form of roads and exploration for minerals, oil, and gas, threaten to fragment this stunning landscape and harm its delicate ecological balance. Learn more.
In response, the Yukon government entered a land-use planning process to determine how much of the Peel to develop and how much to protect. In 2005, a government-appointed independent planning commission started an in-depth consultation process with key stakeholders. Six years later, it recommended permanent protection of 55 per cent of the Peel and interim protection for 25 per cent. The plan was highly supported by First Nations, Yukoners and conservationists.Despite this, the Yukon government adopted its own unilaterally-developed plan for the region, which leaves 71 per cent of the watershed open for mineral staking and industrial development, and in the remaining 29 per cent of `protected areas’, all-season roads are allowed to be develop by existing mining claimants.
Y2Y’s Yukon partners, along with two northern First Nations, who supported the planning commission’s recommendations, took this decision to the Yukon Supreme Court. The court made a historic ruling that the Yukon government’s modifications to the Peel land-use plan did not respect the land-use planning process set out in the territory’s final agreements with First Nations. However, the remedy written by Justice Ron Veale is for the Yukon government to return to consultations on the final recommended land-use plan, a remedy that may allow the Yukon government to modify the plan to increase development in the Peel. Learn more.
The Yukon government appealed the Yukon Supreme Court’s ruling, but in November 2015 the Yukon Court of Appeal confirmed it. However, due to concerns about the weakness of the remedy, in December 2015 First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nations, along with CPAWS-Yukon and Yukon Conservation Society announced they are seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
WHAT Y2Y IS DOING
Y2Y continues to support its partners in their efforts to protect 80 per cent of the Peel Watershed and highlight the continental value of the region.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Take Action: Write the Yukon Government, calling on them to protect 80 percent of the Peel.
Add Your Voice: Sign-up to receive our Action Alerts and speak out about important conservation causes.
GET THE LATEST: Protect the Peel News
Y2Y supports First Nations and conservation partners in the Yukon as they take the Peel Watershed Case to Canada’s Supreme Court.
“We congratulate our partners in the Yukon and look forward to continuing our support for their work to protect the world-class ecological and cultural values of the Peel watershed.," says Y2Y's Candace Batycki.
The Yukon Court of Appeal has upheld the Supreme Court's decision that the Yukon government did not respect the Peel watershed land use planning process as set out in final land claim agreements with First Nations.
Last week, the Yukon Court of Appeal heard arguments about the future of the massive Peel River watershed, and about the meaning and application of modern aboriginal treaties.
Opponents of the Yukon government's plan for the Peel River Watershed offered a twist on an old folk song Wednesday, singing "Let the river be unbroken" during a rally ahead of a major court battle next week.