In the wilderness lies the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau

The fate of the Peel goes to the Supreme Court of Canada! ‪

  #‎protectpeel‬ With all the snow here in Whitehorse it truly feels like Christmas is coming soon! So it’s cold here, but definitely not too cold to take action! The beauty of untouched wilderness, the purity of the water, the sustenance of First Nation people and our future on this planet are at stake. In 2011, a land use plan was recommended for the region of the Peel Watershed. It was worked out with the input of First Nations and the Yukon government, leaving 80% of pristine wilderness protected and 29% open for development. However, in 2014 the government simply ignored this plan and implemented its own, which only sought for 20% of the area to be untouched! So the opponents had no choice but go to court. Last night I got the chance to attend the presentation of the recent decisions in the Peel River Watershed Case. The coalition of three First Nation tribes and two environmental organizations (among them CPAWS who I’ll be working with this week) presented their arguments and announced that they are going to take the fate of the Peel to the Supreme Court of Canada! It was very interesting and helpful to get such a close look at the case. The people in charge are all incredibly competent, ambitious and passionate. So of course it felt incredible to be part of taking action for the protection of unimaginable natural beauty! Read this press article: Application for Leave to Appeal to be Filed with the Supreme Court of Canada Or read here for the hole story of the case: The Peel River Watershed is one of the last remaining jewels of nature of the size of Scotland. It includes the Three Rivers area, where Wilderness International has ventured out on an expedition in 2008 together with German and Gwich’in students. Earlier, in the 20th century, the First Nations gave up a lot of their land and in return the government of the Yukon agreed to include them in the planning of the land’s use. In 2003, First Nation elders decided that they wanted the Peel River Watershed to be one of the first areas protected under a land use plan. Thus, an independent commission of government appointed people and First Nations was formed to determine the plan. Once everything has been thoroughly researched and all possibilities of use regarded, The plan was open to modifications from both parties. However, due to the coming up election, the government only made some minor changes. And so in 2011 a final recommended land-use plan was on the table and ready to be implemented. Nevertheless, the government put forth its own land-use plan without consulting the other party. Subsequently, it had to be taken to court. The Supreme Court of Yukon ruled that the Yukon government did indeed breach the agreement and that the process should be taken back to 2011 before the final recommend plan was in place. That would again open up the question of how much land should be protected versus open for access. Regardless of what the decision in this case will be, it will set a precedent for how these kinds of land use plans are developed, adopted and respected.

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