Government to extend expiry date for Peel region withdrawals
The Government of Yukon is extending the moratorium on mineral staking in the Peel watershed until April 1, 2020. This will give governments time to formalize the higher standards described in the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan and give the mining industry time to adapt to them. Originally, the moratorium was set to be lifted in the Integrated Management Areas on January 1, 2020.
The Government of Yukon is honouring the commitments made in the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the Gwich’in Tribal Council. During the additional three months of withdrawals, these parties will begin implementing the Regional Land Use Plan for the Peel watershed, preparing information to assist industry in understanding the plan’s new requirements for mineral exploration in the region and working towards removing the plan’s prescribed limitations on mineral exploration by April 1, 2020.
The plan’s policies primarily ensure the protection of the Peel watershed. Among other things, they require that miners compile adequate wildlife and habitat baseline data, as well as heritage and historic resource surveys and data on the original state of the land prior to doing work in the watershed. Remediation of contaminated sites with an emphasis on water quality is also required. The use of any wheeled off-road vehicles is restricted to the Hart River Trail, existing trails in the areas immediately adjacent to the Dempster Highway, licensed camps and existing facilities. Where miners are allowed to break new ground, they must provide adequate money to ensure that full reclamation can be achieved. All new roads will be carefully managed and controlled.
We are pleased to be aligning our actions with the Peel plan direction through a collaborative process with Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the Gwich’in Tribal Council. We are committed to meeting our obligations and to being transparent with industry and developers about our intentions for regulating mineral resources work in integrated management areas.
Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai
The Peel Plan inaugurates a new era in conservation and stewardship in our traditional territories. The Plan requires people to observe land use standards that are appropriate for the 21st century and consistent with our Final Agreements. We are greatly encouraged by the commitments of all governments to collaboratively manage activities in the Peel watershed for the benefit of future generations.
First Nation of Na-cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn
Vuntut Gwitchin Government is pleased with the collaborative effort shown by the Peel Implementation Committee in respecting and honouring the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan. Extending the staking moratorium to April 2020 illustrates the clear understanding that an adequate transition period is required to ensure successful implementation of the Final Plan.
Vuntut Gwitchin Government Councillor Cheryl J. Charlie
We are pleased to be working alongside our partners in the implementation of the Peel Watershed Plan. We see this collaborative approach as ensuring the objectives and principles of the plan are respected and in keeping with the decision rendered in the Supreme Court of Canada. We take these collaborative processes very seriously, as we recognize there is still much work to be done. We appreciate the Yukon government approving the Order in Council to extend the withdrawal to April 1, 2020, and are optimistic we can do what’s needed so a further extension isn’t required. The Peel has enormous value for First Nations people and all Yukoners, and we appreciate the opportunity to guarantee it can be enjoyed for generations to come.
Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief Roberta Joseph
The Gwich’in have always wanted to protect and maintain their close and sacred relationship to the Peel Watershed, a relationship that has existed for time immemorial through our ancestors. It is important that the Gwich’in, the Government of Yukon and Northern Yukon First Nations found common ground and worked together to achieve a final Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan that is in the best interest of our future generations. The Peel Watershed is priceless – protecting it for the future is the right thing to do. The Gwich’in are pleased that in doing so, our Indigenous, inherent and treaty rights and interests are being honoured and upheld.
Gwich’in Tribal Council Grand Chief and President Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan
- The Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan includes Government of Yukon commitments to withdraw areas from mineral staking, the specifics of which vary depending on the land designation.
- In Integrated Management Areas (IMA) existing withdrawals will expire so that industry may pursue resource development, subject to applicable assessment and regulatory processes.
- In Special Management Areas (SMA) there will be indeterminate (i.e., permanent) withdrawals, meaning that claim staking will not be allowed.
- Wilderness Areas (WA) and Wilderness – Boreal Caribou (WA-BC) areas will be withdrawn until the parties formally review the plan, which is anticipated for 2029.
- There are 16 Landscape Management Units, including six Special Management Areas that make up 55 per cent, four Wilderness Areas make up 25 per cent, two Wilderness Areas–Boreal Caribou designations make up three per cent and four Integrated Management Areas make up 17 per cent.
- The Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Planning Committee consists of representatives from 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. Together, the committee members are implementing the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan recommendations.
- The Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan was finalized in August 2019.
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