Clowater Presentation

        Roberta Clowater, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Protected Natural Areas Coalition, spoke to Restigouche Naturalists' Club members during their regular monthly meeting in February. Ms. Clowater was a member of the Protected Areas Strategy Council that was instrumental in setting up that program for the province a few years ago. You will recall that one of the direct results of that program was the setting aside from future development of twelve of the most important ecological regions in the province. The Jacquet River Gorge was the area from our part of the province that has benefited from that designation.

        Since that time, the Protected Natural Areas Coalition has been piecing together a strategy to identify ecologically important areas of the province that fell outside the main plan. One of the largest and most important of those areas is the Restigouche River Watershed.

        The approach that this coalition has taken in advocating long-term protection within a significant area is one of consultation and involvement with all of those who have an interest in the area, whether that interest be economic, recreational, environmental, or aesthetic.This is an approach with which I can live, and which I have been advocating myself for some time, in this space and elsewhere. I really believe that a policy of consultation and compromise, rather than one of confrontation, is the one that promises the best opportunity to arrive at an agreement that addresses all of those interests.

        In her presentation to the Naturalists' Club, Ms. Clowater made several crucial points. One of them is that the Restigouche Watershed, as huge and widespread as it is, must be considered as an entity. No one part is more important than another if all parts are going to continue to function as an ecosystem. That means that the group that operates a salmon fishing lodge on the main river, the sub-contracting company that is harvesting hardwood on the high country ridges, the fellow who is running a fur trapping line, those who lease land for cabins, as well as the various snowmobile, canoeing and other recreational groups all have to recognize common responsibility as well as common rights in the usage of the whole area.

        Recognizing the essential integrity of the whole area also means that I, who live on the Restigouche Estuary, have a vested interest in, and a responsibility for, what is happening up in the head waters just as much as those who live right on the banks of the Little Main, the South Branch of the Kedgwick, or along the Upsalquitch. It is all "our river system" and we all have to assume some interest and responsibility for it. On this point, I quote from the pamphlet that Ms. Clowater distributed at that meeting:

        "We depend on this natural environment for clean air and water, natural resources, wildlife habitat and valued outdoor recreation, so we need to make land use decisions that ensure we will continue to receive those benefits. We also have a responsibility to leave future generations a Restigouche region that is as good as, or better than, the one we inherited."

        Next week, I will discuss a second of those crucial points from that presentation.

        This article appeared in the Campbellton Tribune, in Mike's "Grains of Sand" column. It is reproduced with Mike's permission.

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