Connecting with Nature on the Restigouche River
Have you been keeping up with the volunteers of our Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program? This August, 10 volunteers from across the province visited the beautiful Restigouche River and experienced the wonder of this currently unprotected watershed first-hand. Over two days, our volunteers connected with local experts and set out on a canoe expedition down the clear, calm waters of the Restigouche, all the while developing a deeper understanding of the conservation challenges facing this area.
This month we are excited to showcase more of our volunteers and their experiences with the program. We are pleased to introduce you to Aidan Hicks, Benuelle Cabiara, and Dustin Gamblin!
During their time on the Restigouche, our volunteers were asked to reflect on how important protected areas are in New Brunswick. For Benuelle, the experience made her feel more connected to nature and fueled a passion for conservation. She shared, “New Brunswick is the epitome of natural beauty, a picture of mother nature. It is so unfortunate to know that we are lagging behind in protecting the wilderness and the wildlife that exist within our areas.” Aidan echoed this sentiment and noted that his time on the Restigouche river “definitely shaped my vision of how much natural space in New Brunswick needs to be protected.”
Their experience on the river came at an excellent time for conservation in the province. Recently, there has been movement by the provincial government towards designating this ecosystem as the Restigouche Wilderness Waterway Park. The new proposed park will encompass 20,000 hectares of land along the Restigouche, Kedgwick, Patapedia, Upsalquitch and Little Main Restigouche Rivers. Not only will this project create an important protected zone around the Restigouche River system, but tourism in the area will also see new growth and opportunities. “Despite the current lack of good environmental policy, there are still beautiful landscapes with clean water and abundant life here in New Brunswick” commented Dustin. “A healthy environment is crucial to a strong economy long term”, and we are so excited at CPAWS-NB to see this come to life on the Restigouche.
With new ecotourism opportunities on the horizon, we asked our volunteers to weigh-in on the topic. Aidan felt that “ecotourism can be a way for people to experience nature and learn about why some places are so important to protect. Thanks to Arpin Canoe Restigouche, I got to experience the Restigouche River and to see the seemingly pristine landscape first-hand.” For Benuelle, the value of a strong ecotourism industry became apparent during her time on the river, “people from different parts of the country visit the Restigouche to feel truly connected to nature. Ecotourism does not only provide jobs to many individuals in the province, it also promotes environmental conservation and supports local communities to be economically independent.”
This winter, the CPAWS-NB team will be working with our volunteer stewards to imagine and create community projects that highlight the importance of protected natural areas in our province and that use our parks and protected areas as the backdrop for fun educational activities. We are beyond excited to see what our volunteers come up with! As Aidan puts it, “having this experience and ideas for the project has me really excited to get started working in the community on things.” Benuelle is also looking forward to reaching out to others through her project, “this trip has inspired me to think of ways to share my passion through inspiring other individuals to be more connected to nature and to care more about conservation in New Brunswick. I believe that if more people are aware of the beauty and importance of our natural environment, more people would want to protect it for the future generation.”
It’s clear as the river’s water that the Restigouche is a natural area worth protecting. “I feel like there are no words to properly describe and give justice to how beautiful the place is. You just have to see it for yourself” said Benuelle, “I was captivated by the view and the amount of wildlife that I witnessed during our canoe trip. I have never seen a body of water as pristine and beautiful as the Restigouche River” she continued. And while Dustin notes that there is still work to do, he also remains optimistic for the future of the Restigouche. “Fortunately, there is a growing population who recognize that problems exist, but there also exist solutions. And that is cause to remain hopeful.”
Be sure to follow our blog into the new year for more updates on the Canadian Wilderness Stewardship Program and the exciting work of our volunteer stewards in your communities across the province!
Header photo by Justin Dutcher, Dutch Elms Studios
Brittany Dixon is the Conservation Engagement Coordinator with CPAWS-NB. Through her work with CPAWS, Brittany enjoys the opportunity to combine her love of outdoor exploration with a passion for nature conservation. It is her hope to share this passion with others to demonstrate the value and importance of protecting New Brunswick’s natural areas.
Funded by the Government of Canada under the Canada Service Corps program. To learn more about the Canadian Service corps visit their website (https://www.canada.ca/en/services/youth/canada-service-corps.html).