On June 15, the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission released its final draft plan.
Known as “On the Land We Walk Together/Nän käk ndä tr’ädäl”, the draft plan identifies areas where interim withdrawals are recommended to safeguard key conservation areas within the region during the planning process.
The draft plan also identifies potential Integrated Stewardship areas to incorporate sustainable economic activity.
The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and the Yukon government formed the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission in 2018 to achieve the objectives of Chapter 11 of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Final Agreement.
Hähké/Chief of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Roberta Joseph thanked the commission for the hard work they have done.
“The draft plan is a significant step toward protecting essential environmental and cultural integrity values within the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in homeland,” said Joseph.
“We commend the commission for their vision and thoroughness and look forward to working with the Government of Yukon to manage the Dawson Planning region in accordance with the direction and intent articulated in the draft plan.”
The draft plan, including Tombstone Territorial Park, identifies 44.7 per cent of the planning area as high conservation value land. It also divides the planning region into 21 “Landscape Units” — each with its own management intent.
The next step is to develop a recommended plan and the commission will engage with the public on the draft plan over the summer and early fall of 2021.
Anyone with an interest in the Dawson region is encouraged to provide comments and feedback during the engagement period.
“The release of the draft plan provides an important opportunity for Yukoners to provide feedback on the future of the Dawson region,” said John Streicker, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources.
Nils Clarke, Minister of Environment, said the government looks forward to continuing to work together with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the commission and the community.
“Together we are approaching a plan that provides protection and conservation but recognizes important economic drivers in the region,” said Clarke.
Fifty-five per cent of the region is specified as Integrated Stewardship Area. Industrial development is permitted but under specific terms and conditions.
In the plan, 39 per cent of the region is designated Special Management Area where interim or permanent mineral withdrawal is recommended.
On the same day the draft plan was released, the government temporarily withdrew mineral staking in the remainder of high conservation value areas.
“These interim withdrawals will help ensure that wildlife, wetlands and key conservation areas remain protected during the land use planning process, and will minimize land use conflicts in conservation areas identified by the Commission during the planning process,” said Streicker.
The NDP came out in support of the government’s decision to withdraw mineral staking.
“The Yukon NDP supports this government’s decision to withdraw such an important part of the Dawson region’s landscape,” said NDP leader Kate White. “We’ve seen in the past how staking can completely change a region by the time a Land Use Plan is drafted.
“We are relieved to hear it won’t be more of the same in the Dawson region. I look forward to a final plan which prioritizes the consent of First Nations governments, who have and continue to be stewards of this land.”
The NDP said in a release that in the past regions have seen a “flurry of mining activity” during the planning phase so that mine interests are grandfathered into the final plan.
The Dawson planning region covers about 40,000 square kilometres in the northwestern part of the Yukon.
The interim staking withdrawals equal 39.4 per cent of the planning area – the additional 5.3 per cent of the planning area is already withdrawn by Tombstone.
Contact John Tonin at firstname.lastname@example.org