White water, old pines and moose territory: The Dumoine River, Quebec

by Marie-Eve Marchand

After “sleeping like a log” for decades, la Belle province caught on with the importance of nature conservation and moved from less than 1% of protected areas in 2000 to over 8% of its territory protected by 2009. Within a decade over 2,250 new sites were protected corresponding to 135,300 square km or an area equivalent to PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick together. At one point, Premier Jean Charest promised to protect at least 50% of Quebec vast north, an area the size of France. This happily and not coincidentally corresponds with the creation of SNAP/CPAWS Quebec office in Montreal in 2001.

Among those new protected areas, you might have heard of the last undammed river in Southern Quebec, the Dumoine River. Opposite the Algonquin Park (ON) in Quebec, it’s a wilderness gem from its headwater in the Abitibi’s boreal forest flowing through old growth pines and mixed forestuntil it reaches the Ottawa River 220 km later or 11 portagesand 40 rapids if you are canoeing.

In 2005, I was lucky to be hired by CPAWS Ottawa Valley and Quebec Chapters to lead the successful campaign to ensure the protection of1,445 square km or 27% of the Dumoine River Watershed under the Quebec Protected Areas Strategy (QPAS).Leading a conservation campaign with CPAWS thought me the importance of collaboration, understanding, respect and patience to find solutions between different values (logging, mining, hunting, traditional uses and tourism) and cultural background (Anishinabeg, Francophone and Anglophone)to achieve a bigger dream, protecting the last free flowing river in Southern Quebec, its numerous archeological sites and old growth white and red pine forest. Summer and winter, travelling from KitiganZibi to Ville-Marie passing through Swisha and Kipawa a shared vision of nature first was communicated to Quebecer and Canadian. In May 14, 2008, the government of Quebec announced its interim protection.

If you have not done it yet, put the Dumoine River on your canoe list (late spring-early summer for more white water excitement and September-early October for the fall colours and leisurely paddle). Next time you are there, please givea special thank you for years of work lead by CPAWS in close collaboration with KitiganZibi, Eagle Village, Kitcisakik and Lac Simon Algonquin First Nations, Tembec, the Temiscamingue and Outaouais regional governments, the ZECs and many other nature lovers like you. We did it! The Dumoine River will run wild and free forever.

Stay tuned in the coming year; CPAWS will need your help to get its final protection status and expanded it.

Marie-Eve Marchand, Banff, AB
CPAWS National Board of Trustee
Former CPAWS/SNAP Quebec ED and staff for the Quebec and Ottawa Valley chapters and National Office.