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The Yukon government recently made an historic decision: to open one of the world’s biggest natural treasures, the Peel River watershed, to development. Home to the greatest constellation of wild mountain rivers in North America, the Peel Watershed is one of the last large intact ecosystems on the continent.

A coalition of two Yukon First Nations and two Yukon environmental organization have launched a legal case to defend the Peel Watershed, represented by Thomas R. Berger, O.C, Q.C.

Berger and his clients, the First Nation of Na Cho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Yukon Chapter, and the Yukon Conservation Society, have launched a legal action to force the Yukon Government to implement a Land Use Plan that would protect 54,000 square kilometers of wilderness in northern Yukon’s Peel River Watershed, against mining and other industrial development.

After 6 years of careful study and consultation, the Peel Watershed Land Use Planning Commission recommended protecting 80% of this extraordinary wilderness with the remaining 20% open to carefully controlled development. The Yukon Government’s announcement on January 21, 2014, threw out the Peel Watershed Land Use Planning Commission’s Final Recommended Plan and instead implemented the government’s own unilateral plan for the region. This new plan resulted in 71% of the region being opened up for mineral and oil and gas staking.

On July 7th to 11th, 2014 the Peel legal case will go to trial in Whitehorse, Yukon.  This blog will chronicle both the trial and the associated public events.

For more information on the campaign to protect the Peel Watershed, please visit www.protectpeel.ca

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