BAPE report favourable to local proposals for Dumoine River

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“Bridge Rapids” in the Dumoine River just above Lac Benoite.

Deborah Powell



“Bridge Rapids” in the Dumoine River just above Lac Benoite.

Deborah Powell

MRC PONTIAC TNO – Following 10 months of study, including public consultations, the Bureau d’audience publique (BAPE) has released its report on the proposed aquatic reserve for the Dumoine River.
To better protect the river’s watershed, the report recommends that the area of the proposed Dumoine Aquatic Reserve be increased. In addition, an evaluation of the volume of recreational traffic on the river and the capacity of the river ecosystem to support the traffic must be undertaken soon to determine whether damage is taking place to an extent that could compromise the conservation goals of the proposed aquatic reserve. This evaluation could also serve to determine if activities on the Dumoine need to be regulated. In addition, some consultation participants requested that park status be given to the reserve and the BAPE report recommends that the ministry look again into this possibility.
“I’m very encouraged with the report,” said Pontiac resident Dennis Blaedow who has been lobbying for a decade for protection of the river. Blaedow had participated in the BAPE hearing in Campbell’s Bay last January and noted that the suggestions in the recent report reflected his concerns. “Overuse is definitely an issue and a larger area to cover more or all of the water shed is very important for the sustainability of the protected area. A park would be the best choice, in my opinion, since there would more protection and more dollars for infrastructure,” he added.
In its brief to the BAPE, the MRC Pontiac also spoke in favour of a park in the long term but first wanted an Aquatic Reserve for the Dumoine in order to offer a transition period for current users of the area.
The report for the Dumoine Aquatic Reserve is bundled in with the projects for 7 protected areas proposed for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, as the larger part of the reserve lies within that administrative region.
The BAPE report calls for the MDDEP to conduct a study of the social and economic impacts of the establishment of all the proposed reserves in that region. The ministry also needs to outline plans for managing the reserves and include regional partners in that management. Finally, the BAPE report reminds the ministry that they need to plan immediately for the technical and financial requirements that will accompany the establishment of the proposed reserves.
A sense of urgency is evident in the BAPE report, reflecting the short time the Ministry of the Environment has left to complete all projects if they are to meet the Quebec government’s 2015 goal of establishing protected areas totalling 12% of the province. The complete report, in French only, is at www.bape.gouv.qc.ca