About the Peel River Watershed.

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The Yukon's Peel River Watershed is one of the largest and most beautiful intact natural areas left in North America. Industrial development threatens to fragment this stunning landscape and harm its delicate ecological balance. The Peel watershed is the northern anchor of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and part of the Canadian and international campaign to protect the boreal forest.

Conserving the Peel Watershed is important for all of North America. The watershed is critical to the survival of wide-ranging wildlife, it's an ancient cultural landscape for First Nations, and the region supports a burgeoning tourism industry. The pristine wild rivers, valleys and mountains of the Peel will become even more important as a sanctuary for wild species as the impacts of climate change are felt. By conserving it, we will protect one of the finest remaining mountain boreal ecosystems in the world.

Water, Unspoiled Splendor

Located at the northern end of the Rocky and Mackenzie Mountain Chain, the Peel River Watershed is a spectacularly rugged region defined by the Peel, Ogilvie, Blackstone, Hart, Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume rivers. One of Canada's most striking and pristine mountain river watersheds, the Peel is the heart of a great mountain ecosystem with a long cultural history, free-ranging wildlife and a rugged northern beauty. Sprawling over 26,000 square miles (68,000 square kiliometers), or 16 million acres (6.8 million hectares), the Peel Watershed dwarfs more famous landscapes, such as Banff and Yellowstone national parks–in size, unspoiled splendor and ecological integrity.

Globally Significant Ecological Value

The Peel Watershed is one of North America's largest intact ecosystems–a region of mountains, deep canyons, plateaus, wetlands and rolling hills laced by rivers. The watershed is the northern anchor of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, a broad-based international project to protect ecosystem connections for wildlife.

© Karsten Heuer
© Jannik Schou

© Jannik Schou
© Jannik Schou

© Fritz Mueller
© Jannik Schou

  • Wildlife include a host of high-profile species, such as grizzly bears, wolverines, wolves, Dall sheep and caribou that are at risk elsewhere.
  • The watershed provides essential winter range to the Porcupine Caribou Herd–the same animals that spend their summer raising calves in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
    View the Porcupine Caribou Herd Range and Concentration of Locations
  • It's also home to the Yukon's largest herd of woodland caribou–along with several other notable populations of woodland caribou, a species in decline elsewhere.
  • Extensive wetlands are significant as migratory waterfowl nesting and staging areas, along with necessary habitat for peregrine falcons and other birds of prey and a host of nesting shorebirds and neotropical songbirds.
  • Portions of the Peel Watershed remained ice-free through the Pleistocene Ice Age, a factor contributing to the remarkable plant and animal communities found there today. As the earth faces a new phase of climate change, the Peel Watershed could again become what scientists call a "refugia"–a large, connected and naturally functioning ecosystem providing survivable conditions for species likely to become imperiled elsewhere.

Yukon Conservation Society
302 Hawkins Street Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 1X6
(867) 668-5678 • ycsed@ycs.yk.ca
CPAWS Yukon Chapter
P.O. Box 31095, 211 Main St., Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 5P7
(867) 393-8080 • info@cpawsyukon.org