Landscape showing braided river with mountains in background

Yukon and First Nations governments approve the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan

Located in northwest Canada, Yukon’s Peel watershed covers 67,431 square kilometres of wilderness that is rich in biodiversity. The plan provides direction for managing land and resources in this region.

The plan has been approved by:

  • the Government of Yukon;
  • the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun;
  • the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in;
  • the Vuntut Gwitchin Government; and
  • the Gwich’in Tribal Council.

The 5 governments have committed to:

  • establishing a committee which will create an implementation plan; and
  • implementing the plan recommendations together.

The plan

Conservation Areas make up 83 per cent of the watershed, and Integrated Management Areas make up the remaining 17 per cent.

The cornerstone of the plan is sustainable development. This guides the plan in 3 areas:

  • environmental protection;
  • heritage and culture protection; and
  • economic development.

The land base is divided into 16 Landscape Management Units:

  • 6 Special Management Areas make up 55 per cent;
  • 4 Wilderness Areas make up 25 per cent;
  • 2 Wilderness Areas – Boreal Caribou designations make up 3 per cent; and
  • 4 Integrated Management Areas make up 17 per cent.

Each landscape management unit has recommendations on land use, conservation and monitoring.

Landscape photo of river and mountain

The Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan

You can download the complete plan here. For a summary of the highlights, continue reading below.
Download the plan

About the Peel River watershed

Located in northwest Canada, Yukon’s Peel watershed covers 67,431 square kilometres of wilderness that is rich in biodiversity.

There are 6 major rivers in the region:

  • the Snake;
  • the Wind;
  • the Bonnet Plume;
  • the Hart;
  • the Ogilvie; and
  • the Blackstone.

Among large North American watersheds, the wilderness character of the Peel is unique:

  • there are no permanent residents;
  • few roads; and
  • limited development.

Plan highlights

83 per cent of the region is made up of Conservation Areas

We’ll manage these areas to:

  • conserve or protect ecological and cultural resources; and
  • maintain the wilderness characteristics in the long-term .

Conservation Areas

Do not allow:

  • new industrial land-use dispositions, such as mining; or
  • new surface access, such as a road.

Conservations Areas respect existing mineral claims and leases and are further characterized by 3 designations:

Special Management Areas

55 per cent of the region will be permanently withdrawn from mineral staking and the issuing new oil-and-gas rights. The region will have many protected areas, and each will have management plans.

Wilderness Areas

25 per cent of the region is withdrawn from mineral staking and the issuing new oil-and-gas rights for a limited time. This will be reviewed as part of a formal, longer-term public plan review done by a committee representing all parties.

Wilderness Areas – Boreal Caribou

3 per cent of the region is made up of Wilderness Areas with additional requirements for protection including management planning.

17 per cent of the region is made up of Integrated Management Areas

In these areas, a variety of land uses and new surface access are allowed, such as roads and mining. Different zones allow varying levels of development and surface disturbance. Proposed projects will need to go through the normal regulatory and assessment processes.

After new roads and trails are no longer needed, they must be reclaimed. Development thresholds will be set. Impacts will be monitored and limited as they accumulate.

The plan includes 42 recommendations

These include:

  • develop a management plan for the Dempster Highway Corridor;
  • delist the Wind River Trail as a road;
  • limit off-road vehicle use to specific locations within the region;
  • ensure new roads are temporary and not for public use;
  • do not allow infrastructure along major rivers; and
  • all parties agree on a process for deciding if a development proposal fits with the plan.

Moving forward to implementation

We will all be involved in implementation of the plan. The 1st step is to develop an implementation plan. Priorities include:

  • prohibiting mineral staking in the Conservation Areas by withdrawing lands by Order in Council;
  • legally designating Special Management Areas and Wilderness Areas – Boreal Caribou;
  • creating management plans for Special Management Areas and Wilderness Areas – Boreal Caribou;
  • establishing national historic sites for Tshuu tr’adaojiich’uu and Teetl’it njik;
  • delisting the Wind River Trail under the Highways Act;
  • designating off-road vehicle management areas through regulation; and
  • developing a plan review process and timeline.
logos of governments involved in plan

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