Friday, March 19, 2010

Arpin Canoe Restigouche - Passionate Wild River Advocates

If you've ever been canoeing on the Restigouche River, you may already know André Arpin - one of the best tourism operators in our province. I first met André about 13 years ago at a community meeting. Since then, I've been so impressed with his passion for the river, and the enjoyment he gets from sharing his love for and lifelong knowledge of the Restigouche.

André runs his business right next to his picturesque log home along the storied Restigouche River. Whenever we start down the steep hill that leads to his place, and ultimately the river, I feel a mixture of anticipation and relaxation all at once. André is so welcoming and generous with his time. Make no mistake, he is also running a going concern of a canoeing and ecotourism business. He and his team are excellent guides and outfitters, providing superior service to many hundreds of new and returning customers from around the world.

Over the years, Arpin Canoe Restigouche and CPAWS New Brunswick (the organization for which I work) developed the Friends of Restigouche, a partnership and network to encourage increased conservation of Restigouche rivers and wilderness areas. Other community groups and individuals have joined in along the way. André's determination to protect the natural environment on and around the Restigouche and its tributaries is infectious and inspiring.

I highly recommend taking a trip down the Restigouche with André - you'll be rewarded with a spectacular adventure.

Our newest campaign together is called "Keep the Restigouche Wild". We're trying to get at least 3000 signatures in support of protecting the wildest parts of Restigouche forever, and we've already received over 2500 signatures! To add your voice: .

For more on Arpin Canoe Restigouche:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Will New Brunswick's Best Remaining Wilderness be Protected?

Time and time again, studies about Canada’s remaining wilderness areas show that we still have spectacular wilderness opportunities in New Brunswick - but they're getting smaller each year! The wild areas left in the Restigouche River watershed of northern New Brunswick are important to our heritage, our economy and our way of life. They are also still open to all forms of development, including mining, clearcut logging and road-building. Less than a half of 1% of this internationally recognized wilderness is protected.

When I started working on a conservation project in the Restigouche 10 years ago, I knew very little about the history of the area, or the hundred-year-old economy related to the salmon angling lodges. Who knew there are hundreds of jobs and over fifteen million dollars generated by providing quality experiences for the folks from away who visit Restigouche each year! (well, lots of people in Restigouche knew, but I didn't!!)

Restigouche has now become a home away from home for me. I’m so impressed by my friends who work on the river – telling our stories, guiding people on their trip of a lifetime, welcoming back those who make an annual pilgrimage to this Restigouche paradise (for angling, canoeing, hiking the International Appalachian trail...).

Every time I experience the Restigouche flowing gently over its deep, dark pools around Kedgwick River, or catch that glimpse of the misty mountain vista around the Upsalquitch Valley, I feel the privilege of my job. I get to help people protect the natural areas they love, and in the process learn to love another corner of our beloved province.

If you want to support the "Keep Restigouche Wild" campaign and have the wildest parts of Restigouche kept free of development, please visit We’re trying to get 3000 supporters to tell the New Brunswick government how important it is to protect Restigouche wilderness.

(top and middle photos: Roberta Clowater; bottom photo: Steve Reid)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Things you see along the way...Fundy National Park

While attending meetings in Fundy National Park a couple of weeks ago, Steve and I had our camera along to capture some of the sights. I wish I had more time that day to ramble on some of the hiking trails. However, Steve did get out and about and got some really good pics. The wildlife that made an appearance included a bald eagle near Herring Cove (you'll see him/her flying if you look closely at the middle photo), several deer on the way to Dickson Falls, and a tadpole at Bennett Lake.

While I was in a workshop talking with park managers from across Canada about how to manage ecological integrity in parks, Steve was gathering images that will hopefully help us communicate with the public about the many values of parks.

There has been some talk of late about the need to better conserve the habitats and watersheds along the western boundary of Fundy National Park. Options include expanding the boundary of the national park to include more of the park's watersheds, or having the provincial government establish a protected natural area along the border with Fundy. Either way, ecologists are telling us we need to do a better job of conserving the nature around Fundy, lest it become an island in a sea of developed lands. While this is not new - conservationists have been talking for over 30 years about how Fundy is too small to do the best job for nature conservation - it is time that we all - NGOs, provincial and federal governments, communities near Fundy - have a conversation about how to solve this problem.

A Fundy National Park view (top); the same view with the fog rolling in a few hours later (bottom). Steve Reid photos.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Where is the best viewscape in New Brunswick?

Last summer, my partner, a friend and I discovered one of the best views of New Brunswick wilderness. Funnily, it's from a scenic lookout in Ste-Alexis-de-Matapédia, just across the NB border in Quebec. We drove a winding road, past horses in fields and other countryside sights. Once at the lookout, we were astonished by the spectacular views of the Restigouche River and the wild forests that line the valley in both Quebec and New Brunswick.

I couldn't believe how many times we had been up to the Restigouche River area and still hadn't found this gem of a lookout.

It solidified to me how important it is to the future of northern New Brunswick's tourism economy and natural environment that we protect this world-class landscape and keep it as wild as possible. There is still so much ecotourism opportunity that has yet to be tapped along the Restigouche.

This little trek made me wonder how many other lookouts we've yet to discover. How many views are being lovingly tended by locals to the best of their capacity, but don't become known to the broader public who would appreciate them? I would love to hear from people about other natural viewscapes we could explore on future excursions around New Brunswick.