Protect the Peel

Protect the Peel Open Letter to the Peel Planning Commission: After reviewing the draft plan, I urge the commission to protect at least 50 per cent, if not 100, of the Peel Watershed. This is a rare opportunity to protect one of the last great stretches

Open Letter to the Peel Planning Commission:

After reviewing the draft plan, I urge the commission to protect at least 50 per cent, if not 100, of the Peel Watershed. This is a rare opportunity to protect one of the last great stretches of wilderness on the planet. It’s a place that deserves global recognition and protection, like any great national park or conservation zone.

I am not against industry. I support a Yukon mining and oil-and-gas economy. However, there are limits and boundaries to where such activity is appropriate, safe and desirable. The Peel Watershed is one of those magical places that inspires the human imagination and spirit with its beauty and ecological integrity.

The draft plan gets a few things right: it prohibits free-entry mineral staking in many important areas, limits most all-season road access, and suggests no new claims can be permitted in the central area of the watershed. But this is not enough. The response from the public and some censored government departments were unanimous: The Peel Watershed deserves comprehensive conservation measures that protect at least half of the area. Eleven per cent is not enough.

I urge the following measures be incorporated into the plan:

Full protection of the core areas: corridors around the Snake, Bonnet Plume, Wind, and Hart rivers as well as the Peel River.

Ensure no road access.

Protect 50 to 100 per cent of the watershed.

I would not live, and work, here in the Yukon if it were not for the rivers of the Peel Watershed. A trip down the Snake in 2004 charmed me so much I immediately moved to the Yukon from Nova Scotia.

Paddling and hiking on the Snake, Wind, and this summer, the Blackstone, are important activities for me and a growing number of ecotourists. More importantly, as wilderness disappears at an alarming rate, our future human generations, and generations of wild plants and animals, will thank us profusely.

Please, let’s do this one thing right.

Katharine Sandiford

Whitehorse