The Quebec Government issued a statement of approval to dam producers Hydromega today for the development a 40 Megawatt dam on the Magpie River in Northern Quebec. The OK was given under strict stipulation that compromises to paddlers are awarded to ensure the growth of an adventure tourism industry in the area.
Thanks largely to efforts from groups like Fondations Rivieres, Liquid Skills, Breathe, Earth River and others, a report was issued by Canada's BAPE Commission that lauded efforts to control hydro development and encourage adventure tourism as a viable revenue generating alternative. Minister Thomas Mulcair granted the project on the condition that releases are scheduled to coincide with paddling activities and commercial rafting seasons. In addition, a strictly monitored percentage of the profit and initial investment will go to the development of a park for adventure tourism in the area.
Fondations Rivieres and others will continue to fight and stay on top of the situation as there is a strong possibility that more dams will be added to the project. "Loop holes like the introduction of a new dam on a river tend to lead to an aggressive push to dam the rest of the falls upstream... a precedence is set.", James McBeath of Breathe Productions points out, "We still have a long fight on our hands and the only thing that will save this river is an increased amount of traffic in the next two years." This year saw over 15 major trips on the Magpie, a great increase from the 6 commercial trips in 2004. "Trips, especially private trips, are encouraged as they lead to greater local revenue", McBeath suggests, "Subsequently we get a greater appreciation from the local population towards adventure tourism as a viable alternative to damming up rivers".
The Magpie River has been listed as one of the top 5 multi-day paddling rivers in the World by many. Its 55 miles of class III to V+ whitewater allow for the safe decent for both intermediate and expert paddlers alike... unique to most destinations. The Magpie River sits atop the province of Quebec, one and a half hours North of Sept Illes Quebec.
Recently Breathe Productions, along with noted film producer/director Lisa Utronki, produced the award-winning film, Long Live a Free Magpie. Proceeds from DVD sales are being contributed to the Magpie cause. The Magpie video is for sale at www.magpieriver.com and at www.helipress.com .