The red area is the Peel watershed – an area 7 times the size of Yellowstone National Park!
The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) seeks to ensure that the world-renowned wilderness, wildlife, native plants, and natural processes in the mountainous region from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to northern Yukon Territory, continue to function as an interconnected web of life, capable of supporting all of its natural and human communities.
In the Yukon, the Mackenzie Mountains and Richardson Mountains form a northern extension of the Rocky Mountain chain. Some early writers referred to these mountains as the "Arctic Rockies."
Y2Y's approach to conservation in this vast region is through large landscape-scale strategies that focus on grizzly bears and fish. Maintaining wildlife connectivity is the key objective. Grizzly bears, such as those in the Peel watershed, are an indicator or "umbrella" species - where grizzly populations are healthy, we can assume their habitat is mostly intact and of adequate size to ensure their long term survival, as well as that of many other terrestrial species.
One of four northern priorities for conservation action, the Peel watershed is the northern anchor of the Y2Y region. Protecting the entire 68,000km2 Peel watershed in the Yukon would effectively double the amount of protected lands in the Y2Y region since Y2Y was launched in 1997, and place the Peel watershed alongside iconic parks such as Banff, Jasper and Yellowstone, where it belongs! Our northern landscapes contain the largest, most intact, wildest lands remaining within the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor.The Peel River stands at an ecological crossroads, connecting boreal forests, arctic tundra, and alpine habitats. Within the Y2Y region, it is a crucial benchmark for intact predator-prey ecosystems, clear free-flowing rivers and pristine aquatic ecosystems. Beringian regions of the Yukon (areas left unglaciated during the last ice-age) extend into the Peel basin and contain areas that acted as refugia during past climatic shifts. Given the pace of current climate change, the Peel region may once again become a crucial corridor for the shifting distributions of species.
Y2Y shows that no matter how important we think protecting the Peel is in the Yukon, it is equally important for the rest of North America, and ultimately the world.