CPAWS says government characterization of Peel protection misleading
CPAWS-Yukon says the Yukon government misled the public on its plans for the Peel River Watershed during the 2014-2015 Budget Address.
In the Premier’s March 25 budget speech, the characterization of the level of protection for the Peel provided by government’s Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan was specious and inaccurate.
The issue lies specifically with how Yukon government has chosen to represent the Restricted Use Wilderness Areas (RUWAs).
“In the budget address the government says that its plan provides for protection of 72.8% of the Peel by combining the areas they have designated as RUWAs and Protected Areas,” explains Gill Cracknell, executive director of CPAWS-Yukon, “This is greenwashing. RUWAs are part of the working landscape where you can stake new mineral claims and build new roads with various management and mitigation measures. They are essentially the same as Integrated Management Areas and should be characterized as such.”
“This is not protection based on principles of ecological science,” says Cracknell. “It is mitigation with a primary focus on industry and access.”
The government’s protected areas don’t conform to scientific principles of large-scale protection. The core of the Peel area – more than 71% of the watershed – is open for new staking, industry and roads.
“This isn’t the vision the public or the First Nations expressed for this region,” says Cracknell. “But, according to the government, it is ‘in the best interests of all Yukoners’ (quoted from the 2014-2015 Budget Address).”
While the Premier presented the budget inside the Yukon Legislature, Yukoners gathered outside to express outrage over the Yukon government’s Peel Plan. Since the government announced its Peel plan mid-January, public support for true protection of the Peel has continued to grow with Yukoners attending events, organizing fundraisers, writing letters to Yukon government and the media, and donating funds towards the Peel legal case. “It is inspiring to see that so many Yukoners stand in solidarity with the Peel campaign,” says Cracknell. “It keeps driving us forward.”
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