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The latest news from CPAWS YUKON

June 2021

In this edition:

  • Draft Dawson Regional Land Use Plan released 
  • Calling applicants for this year's Beaver River Watershed canoe trip 
  • The grades are in. The Yukon recieved a B- on CPAWS' annual report card 
  • Yukon Youth Panel on Climate Change survey
  • Yukon North Slope Wildlife Conservation and Management Plan
  • View our Annual General Meeting online

At the outset of planning, the six-person Commission tasked with creating the Dawson Regional Land Use Plan adopted the philosophy of “On the Land We Walk Together/Nän käk ndä tr'ädäl”. The draft plan was released on June 15th and we’ve read all 188 pages, but will need more time to digest it before offering specific improvements. Overall, we think it is a good start and generally reflects the Commission’s philosophy of considering and honouring the region’s diverse values. Sebastian Jones, who works with our friends at the Yukon Conservation Society, echoed this assessment in an interview with the Yukon News. 

At the same time, it is clear there are ways the draft plan could better protect the region’s ecological and cultural treasures, like the Fortymile caribou herd. We look forward to sharing more on this soon, and fortunately public engagement runs until November 1, so we have some time!

In the meantime, here are four initial observations: 

  • 40% of the region is newly designated for conservation of ecological values, cultural values, and wilderness character. Conservation areas jump to 45% once you add in the existing Tombstone Territorial Park. An Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area is recommended for the Fifteen/Chandindu – Tsey Dëk/Tthen Dëk landscape. This area is rich in Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in cultural history and important habitat for caribou, grizzly bears, and sheep.
  • Undisturbed bogs and marshes, rare wetland types in the region, are off-limits to development. The Commission is asking for input on the percentage of fens that should remain undisturbed, ranging from 25% to 75%. Fens are irreplaceable peatlands that sustain unique ecosystems and we think at least 75% should be spared from development.
  • 55% of the region is designated for development, subject to some new rules and guidelines, and ranging from low levels of development in some areas to very high levels in others, like the goldfields. We think the amount of development allowed in some areas is too high, putting sensitive species like caribou and grizzly bears at risk.

The Commission has been clear - the draft plan is up for discussion and no final decisions have been made. That means they need to hear from you! Stay tuned to CPAWS Yukon to know when engagement opportunities are open.

Green areas on the map (1, 4, 5, 7, 10, 18, 19, and 22) are designated for conservation and make up about 45% of the region. Red, orange, yellow and beige areas (2, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 23) are open for development, ranging from low levels of development allowed in red areas to very high levels in the beige areas. The plan will set high level direction for the Yukon River corridor (3) and Klondike Valley (13) but specifics will be determined through future subregional planning. 

Subregional planning can also have important implications for the land, water, and wildlife. The Beaver River Watershed subregional plan is still underway, and we are very excited to help support another canoe trip this year! The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun is organizing an on-the-land trip for citizens from August 15-28. Citizens can apply to go on this trip (for free!) here. Over the past two years, we’ve helped organize this trip in an effort to strengthen the connection to the land and water, especially while the Beaver River Watershed undergoes a planning process. If you’re curious about the trip, and want to learn more about the importance of this special region, you can watch our short movies about past trips here.

The Dawson region and the Beaver River Watershed are both amazing opportunities for the Yukon to work towards being a national leader in conservation. Recently, CPAWS released a national report card, where we graded each province and territory on their conservation work over the past 10 years.

The Yukon has a lot of potential, but remains behind the leaders with a score of B-. Currently 11.8% of the territory is permanently protected, and this number will rise to 19.4% once the Peel Watershed Plan is implemented. With the Peel saga resolved and land use planning no longer stalled, the Dawson Regional Land Use Plan is an opportunity for the Yukon to pick up momentum and become a national leader in conservation. Indigenous-led conservation, developing successor mining legislation, and putting the Yukon Parks Strategy into action are further opportunities for protecting Yukon’s ecologically and culturally important wild spaces. 

Some challenges remain. A funding injection is needed to boost depleted land use planning funds to make sure there is capacity and resources to do planning right. In addition, mineral development continues to move ahead in the absence of land use planning, shaping landscapes before governments and people have the opportunity to determine their best future. You can view the full report here.

Planning before development will also help us avoid having to fight battles in court, like the recent battle won by Blueberry First Nations. Last month, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the province had encouraged unchecked industrial development in the First Nations’ traditional territory at the expense of their Treaty Rights.

Here in the Yukon, there’s long been concern that the cumulative impacts of development are eroding not just lands, waters and wildlife habitat, but the ways of life that depend on them, as well as the promise of the Final Agreements and Aboriginal Rights.

Cumulative impacts are the total impacts on an area, based on past and current development and environmental factors, like climate change. We are seeing the impacts of climate change at a much higher rate than other parts of the world, and that’s one of the reasons that Yukon Government put together the Yukon Youth Panel on Climate Change. This panel is tasked with providing recommendations for Yukon Government, and they need your help. They’ve put together a survey to gauge the experiences that other youth have with climate change and have some prizes if you fill it out. This survey is open to everyone  living in the Yukon that is 30 years old and younger. You can find it here. 



Finally, a final recommended wildlife management and conservation plan for the Yukon North Slope is set to be released - likely in the fall. The draft plan included important recommendations that would formalize existing protections for the region, as set out in the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, and allow for the establishment of an Inuvialuit-led conservation area. It would also help ensure the wellbeing of the Porcupine caribou herd while they are in Canada, as the Eastern North Slope is a critical post-calving area for them. Overall, this is extremely positive and we look forward to it moving forward over the coming months.


This is an exciting time for conservation in the Yukon. If you missed our Annual General Meeting in June, you can view it in its entirety here.


- Adil 



Non-Profits we love

Every month, we will be highlighting a non-profit doing awesome work. We believe working together will help us create a stronger future for conservation and end the "Non-Profit Hunger Games"

Power to Be

Power to Be is a non-profit organization based in Victoria and Vancouver that believes everyone belongs in nature. They work to remove barriers to the outdoors through adaptive recreation programs and a wilderness school. You can learn more about Power to Be here:





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