Location: 61°51′15″N 137°15′13″W
The Peel River Watershed is a significant watershed contributing to arctic and boreal biodiversity in the northern Yukon. The Yukon portion of the watershed is uninhabited and one of the last undeveloped wilderness regions in the world. The watershed covers approximately 70, 000 square kilometres of boreal forest and tundra and is unique because it hosts an ecosystem that “stands at the junction of Beringia and the ice-free corridor and was thus a fundamentally critical crossroads in the distribution and exchange of organisms” (Berger, n.d.). The watershed has one of the most complex histories of glaciation in North America forming over various glacial events. (Meikle & Waterreus, 2008) The Peel River, itself, “was blocked by ice several times during the Pleistocene, forming large lakes. On at least two occasions these lakes overflowed around the north of the Ogilvie Mountains forming a contiguous watershed with the westward-flowing Yukon River, resulting in an exchange of organisms between otherwise separated drainages of the Yukon and the Mackenzie”. (Berger, 7) As a result, even today, the ecosystem boasts high biodiversity and some of the most unique species in the world including varieties of fish, trees, grizzlies, hares, ground squirrels, mushrooms, caribou, multiple moss species found nowhere else along with many other highly diverse flora and fauna.
I chose local references to learn more about the Peel River Watershed. Since it has been an area subject to controversial land use planning and was even taken to the Supreme Court, I felt that a great deal of research had gone into developing these reports. It would have been nice to read more about local First Nations perspectives.
Berger, Joel, and Brodie F Jedediah. CPAWS, The Peel River Watershed: Ecological Crossroads and Beringian Hotspot of Arctic and Boreal Biodiversity, 130ncw3ap53r1mtmx23gorrc-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/69/2019/08/Brodie_Peel_Watershed_Science_Report.pdf.
Meikle, John C, and Marcus B Waterreus. Government of the Yukon, 2008, pp. 1–66, Ecosystems of the Peel Watershed, yukon.ca/sites/yukon.ca/files/env/env-ecosystems-peel-watershed.pdf.
Querengesser, Tim. “In the Supreme COURT'S Peel WATERSHED Decision, Signs of Hope for a New Land Power Paradigm.” Canadian Geographic, 12 Dec. 2017, www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/supreme-courts-peel-watershed-decision-signs-hope-new-land-power-paradigm.