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. On February 14th the Yukon Party Government announced that it would not follow the final recommended plan of the Peel Watershed Planning Commission. The Plan, which took 7 years to complete and cost around $1.6 million, was an effort to effectively balance the interests of native groups, industry and conservationists, and recommended that 80% of the Peel River watershed, located in the Peel region in Northern Yukon, be designated as conservation areas.
Instead, the Government released eight principles that will guide the planning process. The principles will likely guide the plan towards a multiple use philosophy and open much of the area to road development and mining activity. Native groups, conservationists, and the tourism industry see this as an unfair betrayal of the democratic process. NOLS sometimes operates in the Peel Watershed, and the school is concerned that this decision will set a precedent for the management and planning processes in other areas of the Yukon.
Citizens of the area are speaking out against the government’s decision. Many have pointed out that the Yukon Party is acting against the interests of the majority of Yukoners. An independent 2010 report by the Datapath group corroborates this stance; stating that three-quarters of Yukoners supported protection of 80% of the planning region.
For more information on the process visit ProtectPeel.ca