Mind the Gap! CPAWS-OV’s Dumoine River Strategy

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It’s not “only” Liberal MP for Pontiac, Sophie Chatel, who is seeking to encourage a Green and Prosperous Outaouais. CPAWS-OV (the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society: Ottawa Valley) has been lobbying for biodiversity protection since 1969.

Although the Ottawa Valley chapter’s initial goal that founding year was lobbying for Gatineau Park’s protection, the conservation-minded organization has expanded its goals, supporting protection for Pontiac lands such as Mont O’Brien, Domaine de la Vérendrye, and other Biodiversity Reserves, including the Dumoine River watershed.

CPAWS-OV is also active in Ontario, working to conserve lands in Ottawa’s Greenbelt, and, in the late 1990s, encouraged protection of the connectivity between the “A2A” – Adirondack to Algonquin parks — ecological corridor.

Dumoine success

John McDonnell is the Executive Director of CPAWS-OV. He explained, “As of June 2022, the Dumoine River protected area extends 1776 km². Also that month, the government of Québec announced protection for 822 km² of the Noire and Coulonge watersheds.”

CPAWS-OV lobbied hard for this, along with CREDDO (Le Conseil régional de l’environnement et du développement durable de l’Outaouais) and Wally Schaber, the well-known founder of Trailhead, who was so passionate about the protection of the Dumoine that he founded FORD (Friends of Rivière Dumoine).

Where is the Dumoine?

The Dumoine’s 129-km reach courses through MRC Pontiac, forming the political boundary between Pontiac and Temiscamingue counties and joining the Ottawa River immediately north of Algonquin Park, thus connecting La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve to the Ottawa.

The Dumoine is a wild, undammed river whose watershed is home to wildlife such as moose, deer, black bear and wolves, species requiring vast territories in which to roam freely.

Ecological corridors = connectivity

Such mammals roam across the Ottawa River (swimming in summer, walking during winter’s ice) to roam lands extending from it to Ontario’s Algonquin Park and beyond.

Enter precisely what McDonnell mentioned above, the A2A wildlife corridor, where animals could potentially cross from the upper reaches of the Dumoine (in La Verendrye Park), through the Dumoine, across the Ottawa River – and (once “the Gap” is secured) through Algonquin to Adirondack parks.

Mind the Gap!

A Gap of some 18 km² exists between the southern bank of the Ottawa River to the northwestern tip of Algonquin Park.

Says McDonnell, “Imagine hiking from the Adirondack Mountains to the Dumoine River’s Grande Chute!”

This could happen, when CPAWS-OV’s campaign to protect the Gap gains succeeds.

Join the DRAW retreat!

DRAW (Dumoine River Artists for Wilderness) is an annual August art retreat, where dedicated, participating artists work hard to raise awareness of the need for biodiversity protection in the Dumoine’s watershed. Founded in 2017 by McDonnell, artist Alita Karstad and former Pontiac artist Tina Michaud, it’s thriving.

Last year, McDonnell introduced DRAW artists to the Gap, visiting Bissett’s Creek, Holden Lake and other wild lands.

Says McDonnell, “CPAWS became concerned about the future of the area between Algonquin Park and the Dumoine River a few years ago when a proposal for a graphite mine was exposed. The landscape between these two areas is
largely intact, being public lands with virtually no roads or significant development.”

DRAW’s Gap campaign

In 2023, DRAW artists will further explore the Gap with McDonnell’s inspired, informed leadership.

Interested in the DRAW?

Are you a photographer, fibre artist, painter or artist of a different genre? Want to learn more about or participate in DRAW? Are you up for rough-camping-based exploration of wilderness? If so, contact McDonnell at: jmcdonnell@cpaws.org.

And, browse the DRAW website at dumoine.org/draw to learn more about the DRAW or to apply to join this year’s annual art retreat.

Experience DRAW artists’ art?

On May 13, meet many DRAW artists at an art fair (10:00 – 5:00) at Deep River’s Valley Artisans’ Co-op, where the DRAW exhibition continues until June 11. (facebook.com/valleyartisanscoop/)

Katharine Fletcher is a proud participant in CPAWS-OV’s DRAW. Come to Deep River on May 13th to meet many of us visual artists who are committed to raising awareness of Pontiac’s spectacular, wild Dumoine River Watershed.