CURRENT TIME:







(from DIAND web site - FORT PROVIDENCE, NT, April 17, 2003)
Dehcho PROCESS AGREEMENTS BALANCE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WITH LAND PROTECTION



(from the Edmonton Journal Front Page - Edmonton,AB, April 17, 2003)
N.W.T. NATIVES SCORE HUGE DEAL


(News Release from the World Wildlife Fund - Yellowknife, NT, April 17, 2003)
INTERNATIONAL CONSERVATION HONOUR FOR NWT'S Dehcho FIRST NATIONS AND THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA


(News Story from the Northern News Services- Yellowknife, NT, April 25, 2003)
PLOTTING THE NEXT STEPS: Land-use planning will create a "maze of carefully planned areas"





N.WT. natives score huge deal
Agreement will set stage for Mackenzie Valley oil, gas work, Nahanni expansion

ED STRUZIK
Edmonton Journal Staff Writer
EDMONTON

Thursday, April 17, 2003

EDMONTON - A Northwest Territories aboriginal group will sign a huge land deal today, setting the stage for oil and gas development in the southern Mackenzie Valley and expansion of one of the country's most famous national parks.

"I'm a bit flabbergasted that this has happened as quickly as it has," said Michael Nadli, grand chief of the Dehcho Nation, which made news last year when it threatened to block the proposed $4-billion Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline.

"This deal is unprecedented in its scope. It will pave the way for orderly development in the Dehcho region and set up a large network of protected areas."

About 70,000 square kilometres will no longer be available for mineral exploration and the land will become part of a system of interconnected protected areas extending from Wood Buffalo National Park in the southeast to Nahanni National Park along the Yukon border.

However, a little over 50 per cent of the 210,000 square kilometres of Dehcho territory will remain open to oil, gas and mining development subject to terms and conditions set out by the aboriginal group.

The land deal will be in effect for five years or until the Dehcho land claim is settled, and a mineral inventory is conducted.

Nadli, who represents 10 chiefs and 4,000 Dene living in the southern Mackenzie Valley, sees expansion of Nahanni National Park, a United Nations World Heritage site, as a cornerstone to the protection of land and water the Dehcho use to hunt, fish and trap.

Part of the land being withdrawn from exploration includes territory that's adjacent to the national park, which is often described as "Canada's Yellowstone" because of the spectacular canyon system through which the South Nahanni River flows.

A draft agreement to expand Nahanni National Park is already in place, and requires only the signature of Heritage Minister Sheila Copps. The agreement is open-ended and could triple the size of the 4,828-square-kilometre park.

The key goal, says Nadli, will be to protect all the watersheds flowing through the park into Dehcho regions downstream.

 

 

Currently, only one of the rivers flowing through Nahanni National Park is protected. The rest are vulnerable to energy and mining developments which have been going on in earnest in the surrounding areas.

Environmental groups across the country are elated with the news about the land deal.

"It's nothing short of phenomenal," said Monte Hummel, president of the World Wildlife Fund of Canada.

"Both the Dehcho and the federal government deserve high praise for doing this. It's a huge conservation initiative that addresses the issue of future development in the North."

"The area the Dehcho are setting aside for protection is twice the size of Vancouver Island," notes Alison Woodley of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

"This not only sets up the protection that Nahanni needs, it also puts in place one of the biggest interconnected protected areas outside of the national and provincial park system."

The land withdrawal is also good news for a consortium of companies hoping to build the Mackenzie Valley pipeline from the Beaufort Sea to Alberta.

Until recently, the Dehcho had been threatening to block the pipeline to force the federal government to expedite the land claim and negotiate a resource revenue sharing agreement.

While this deal does not address all the demands of the Dehcho, the aboriginal group now has the royalty revenue sharing agreement they have been coveting.

- - -

BY THE NUMBERS

- Dehcho Interim measures area -- 208,385 square kilometres

- Sub-surface land being withdrawn from exploration -- 70,718 square kilometres

- Nahanni National Park -- 4,828 square kilometres

- Edehzhie Protected area -- 25,233 square kilometres, lands withdrawn last year

- Total area to be protected -- 100,879 square kilometres

Ran with fact box "By the Numbers", which has been appended to this story.

© Copyright 2003 Edmonton Journal

 


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