Protecting the Peel Watershed

Sprawling over 68,000 square feet, the Yukon’s Peel River watershed is one of the largest, most beautiful and intact wilderness areas in North America. It is a remote and rugged region defined by six major tributaries that connect into the Peel: the Ogilvie, Hart, Blackstone, Snake, Wind and Bonnet Plume rivers.

I had the opportunity to paddle the Bonnet Plume one summer while guiding a two-month expedition throughout the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It was the best summer of my life and I will never forget the vastness of the area and the incredible experience of exploring the pristine wild rivers and stunning valleys and mountains. While the beauty of the Peel River Watershed is undisputed, it also has significant ecological value as the area supports abundant northern wildlife populations and ancient First Nation cultures.

The Peel Watershed Planning Commission, an independent, government-appointed commission took several years to plan, consult and carefully consider the consequences of development in the region. Their final plan recommended protecting just over 80% of the watershed. This plan was supported by First Nations in the area and numerous environmental and conservation groups.

Recently, the Yukon government lifted a moratorium on mining and adopted their own development plan for the region that would leave 71% of the watershed open for mineral staking and industrial development and less than 30% of the area protected. The issue has gone to court through a legal suit against the Yukon government. While the court case has not yet been resolved, there are other ways to support the protection of the Peel. Below are projects bringing attention to this amazing, wilderness region and links to their sites where you can donate or get involved.

Protect the Peel

Protect the Peel is a mission to conserve the land, water and wildlife of the Yukon. This organization is raising money to support the Peel legal case in the hopes of protecting the Peel Watershed. This organization is further supported by Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, David Suzuki and First Nations of the Peel Watershed.

The Peel Project

The Peel Project documents a paddling trip through the Peel River Watershed with 6 artists and a researcher to experience the North and bring together film, the arts and sciences.

By AI Blog contributor: Sarah Frood