The Government of Yukon is holding public consultations on its land-use plans for the Peel watershed as the debate continues over how much of the pristine land should be available for industrial development.
The Yukon government manages more than 97 per cent of the Peel watershed, but four First Nations from the Yukon and the Northwest Territories also control regions of the Peel, an area encompassing 67,000 square kilometres.
The Peel Watershed Planning Commission released its final recommended plan in July last year, seven years after the commission was formed. It recommends that 55 percent of the Peel be permanently protected, while 25 percent be protected for an interim time. The commission recommends that the remaining 20 percent of the region be open to regulated oil, gas and mineral development.
Karen Baltgailis of the Yukon Conservation Society and the four First Nations involved say the commission’s Recommended Peel Watershed Land Use Plan is a compromise they can live with and the government should accept.
Since the territorial election in October 2011 the Yukon government has said the commission’s final recommended plan should be modified to be more “fair and balanced.”
Last month, the Yukon government unveiled four more potential land-use options for the Peel. The plans would permanently protect just 14-36 percent of the Peel and open 26 percent of the land to development.
The government says it hasn’t made any final decisions nd its four plans are simply concepts that illustrate how land-use designations could be applied.
The Yukon government is accepting public and stakeholder input until February 25.
Listen to why Baltgailis thinks the majority of the Peel should be protected.