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 Post subject: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 15th, 2010, 10:16 am 
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I'd like to compile a list of destroyed rivers.
I don't mean lost routes (which some paddlers are attempting to restore, as in the Wabakimi Project).
My suggestion is that the list not include rivers that have been dammed in places.
Neither would I include threatened rivers; they should go to a separate folder or thread or ...
At the moment, I'm thinking that destroyed should mean rivers that have been so damaged by dams and diversions that paddling them is impossible, difficult or highly unpleasant.
Perhaps, as we proceed, we can come to consensus regarding what the term means. But a consensus is not necessary.

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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 15th, 2010, 12:29 pm 
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Preliminary definition of a destroyed river:
A river, once padded recreationally,
1. that is now little but a chain of lakes separated by dams, or
2. whose flow has been severely affected by diversions.

I would include also rivers in the process of being destroyed, according to the above criteria.
I would not include rivers like the Kipawa, which as best I know is "only" threatened at the moment.

The list (open for both additions and deletions):
Upper Churchill (NL)
Eastmain (QC)
Finlay (BC)
La Grande (QC)
Romaine (QC)
Rupert (QC)
du Petit Mécatina (QC)

Please post here if
you would like to see different criteria,
any of the above rivers should not be considered destroyed,
you know of other destroyed rivers.

EDITs:
Ottawa (ON & QC) removed from the first list; thanks recped.
Spelling of du Petit Mécatina (QC) corrected.
Finlay (BC) added; thanks erich.
Minor edit of the line that now reads The list ...

Allan

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Last edited by Allan Jacobs on February 17th, 2010, 7:26 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 15th, 2010, 1:37 pm 
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Joined: January 22nd, 2003, 7:00 pm
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
Quote:
Preliminary definition of a destroyed river:
A river, once padded recreationally,

I would suggest the definition be expanded to recognize the historical and traditional importance of our waterways.

Under the category of "threatened" rivers must be included the Albany River. Currently, there a plans afoot to punch a railway line into the "ring of fire" and suspend a new hydro line across between Patte Lake and Miminiska Lake in one of the most scenic sections of this historically-important waterway. Both of these proposed developments will also impact other area waterways including the Ogoki River.


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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 15th, 2010, 2:50 pm 
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Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
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Location: Toronto
Thanks, Phil!

I'd like to reserve the Destroyed Rivers thread for rivers that are in RIP status, rivers for which the fight (if there was one) has been lost.
I'd like this thread to remind us of what we have lost.

The other thread (which I've renamed Threatened Routes)
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=35146
would list routes, with links, for which the fight is on, or should be.
It would be the place to post for calls to action.
It would also be the place for NWPA discussions.
At the moment it lists the Albany River (thanks for reminding me), the Kipawa River and Michipicoten Bay; I have yet to post links though.
Of course there are many other threatened rivers; I have to go through the posts.

Also, as you well know, there are lost routes.
Exceptionally selfless individuals (some CCR members) are working very hard to re-establish these routes, for example in the Wabakimi and Temagami regions.
It is my understanding (correct?) that, at least in Ontario, the rules for granting lumber licences change if it can be documented that a given river was paddled, that a portage existed between two lakes, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 15th, 2010, 3:59 pm 
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You already hit the big two in my world, Rupert and Eastmain. The Rupert is officially gone as of the end of the summer from what I have heard. It would be interesting to try to run some of these "dead" rivers just to see what Dead means. :(


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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 15th, 2010, 4:34 pm 
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Quote:
Ottawa (ON & QC)


Destroyed? Really? perhaps impeded would be a better word. While there are dams on the Ottawa (on both the Quebec and Ontario sections) there are still plenty of km's that are quite usable. I've paddled the upper portion and of course the main section of the Ottawa has tons of paddlers and rafters on it.

Does any river with a dam on qualify as "destroyed"? Better add the Gatineau and Coulonge to your list if it does.

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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 15th, 2010, 5:10 pm 
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Does the don river qualify?

What about the Humber?
I think the credit and the grand are alive and mostly well.

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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 15th, 2010, 5:50 pm 
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Thanks, recped, for the clarification regarding the Ottawa.
I just revealed my ignorance on this one.

More generally, in my view, no river should be considered destroyed just because it has a dam or two on it. Otherwise the list would run to thousands of entries.
I think that the term should be reserved for rivers that are seriously damaged, according to the criteria as I gave them earlier in this thread. Otherwise the term is trivialised.

To repeat.
Preliminary definition of a destroyed river:
A river, once padded recreationally,
1. that is now little but a chain of lakes separated by dams, or
2. whose flow has been severely affected by diversions.


I don't define the term; that is why the definition is called preliminary.
Please contribute your opinion.
My job is first to raise the issue and then attempt to summarise the opinion of the paddling community as a whole.
As I said in the other thread, I view CCR as a message board only.
So maybe we don't want a rigid definition; maybe we don't want to try for a definition at all; maybe trying to do these things is a waste of time.

But I think it important to recognise that some rivers are so severely damaged that paddlers will avoid them.

Don River:
I've paddled it twice, and staffed weir #3 several more times.
It is certainly severely damaged but I'm not sure that it should be considered destroyed.
But I think that it is paddled only rarely except on the first Sunday in May.

Humber River:
Again severely damaged. I haven't paddled it but I've heard of others who have; it looks pretty shallow to me though.
I'm not sure that it should be considered destroyed.

Credit and Grand Rivers:
I've paddled parts of both. They are damaged but I think that calling them destroyed would trivialise the word.

I'm getting the idea that the term should be elastic.
If a river in northern Quebec were in the same condition as the Don, it might well be considered so ugly that paddlers would avoid it when so many other rivers, nearby, are so much more attractive.
On the other hand, what should one expect in an urban environment? Of course, this is not to discourage groups like Paddle the Don from their laudable efforts; more power to them!

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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 17th, 2010, 12:37 am 
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Allan … I'm not sure why you are limiting your criteria to "enjoyment" and "flow" of water. It seems that the health and vitality of a river is connected to whether it is capable to doing some well understood and basic ecosystem and environmental functions (while at the same time supporting other uses: social, recreational, and industrial). Heritage and traditional use of waterways, as Phil says, are important. They are part of a record of long term and sustainable practices that often involve rivers (and growth of human society has always been co-dependent on rivers). But when rivers cease to perform a variety of functions, because of dams, pollution, irrigation, destruction of wetlands, or something else … then the whole of their potential (and all of the sustainable and long term future benefits: natural, recreational, social) may be lost. We are just utilizing a part.

I think it's important to include the many natural or ecosystem benefits that free flowing rivers provide to any measure of damaged, destroyed, or threatened. As one organization puts it:

Quote:
Land and water are ecologically linked into systems called catchments or watersheds. From the smallest droplet to the mightiest river, water works to shape the land. River systems stitch together the landscape, transporting materials and living organisms rather like our body's circulatory system. A catchment is a web of life. A healthy river is a highly complex web of natural systems. Major engineering interventions such as dams, water diversions and channelization projects harm rivers by altering their chemistry, their flow, their physical nature ("geomorphology"). Natural river systems provide fisheries, floodplain agriculture, natural services and products, aquifer replenishment, water quality improvement in polluted sites, and high biodiversity – all free. All of these free services can be diminished or destroyed by river-engineering projects.


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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 17th, 2010, 6:31 am 
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Hi Allan, There are a number of rivers out west which have been destroyed by damming. Perhaps one of the most famous is the Finlay, which was an historic river. Because of Williston Lake, very little of the Finlay survives.


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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 17th, 2010, 7:06 am 
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erich:
Thanks!
I'll add the Finlay to the list, right away.

idylwyld:
I agree completely.
But I want to distinguish between rivers that are destroyed beyond all hope of restoration (I think that those in my list qualify) and those that are severely damaged but might be restored partially with effort.
I would like placing a river name in that list to be the rough equivalent of placing a tombstone in a cemetery: We'll not see you again.
An example:
The Don in Toronto is severely damaged, but every year Paddle the Don, with cooperation from government agencies, environmental groups, the WCA and just plain paddlers organizes Paddle the Don Day.
Money is put into restoring the river.
But it is an urban river and it can never be restored to its original condition; for one thing, there's a treatment plant on it. Maybe though fish will be able to live in it again; maybe fish actually live now in parts of it.

jmc:
Does the Tazin (SK) qualify as destroyed, under criteria yet to be established?
If not, how about the upper Tazin, suitably defined?

All:
Do there exist lists of destroyed, severely damaged, ... rivers at the national and provincial/territorial levels?
I would expect some of the environmental groups to have made an effort along these lines.

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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 17th, 2010, 6:35 pm 
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Joined: October 25th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 170
Location: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
BC considerations:

Columbia
How could this be missed? The geographical distance probably has something to do with it, but the calender distance may have more to do with it. This river was 'destroyed' well before the La Grande in Quebec or the upper Grand in Labrador.

Bridge Riv.
The last 30 - 50 km of this ~~20K cfs average flow river totally diverted. The previous ~ 50 km drowned out by the dam.

Nechako:
Diverted trib of the Fraser. They do let some water back out to the natural river bed, but ......

There would be a bunch more of mostly smaller ones, but this ain't wikipedia :D


Back to the Ottawa (and many rivers like it that have had dams put up on it a long time ago): Perhaps not all of it has been destroyed, but a whole bunch of what was once a free flowing river has been staircased via dams and reservoirs. So while I wouldn't want to say the whole river is destroyed because of those losses, I wouldn't be shy to say that it has been xx% destroyed. Sort of like saying that a certain valley has been 60% clearcut.


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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 17th, 2010, 6:46 pm 
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I like the clearcut analogy!

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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 17th, 2010, 8:48 pm 
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As long as we're missing rivers out west, we shouldn't forget the Yukon at Whitehorse, the US Snake, the Green and the Rio Grande, and the section of the Skagit under Ross Lake.


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 Post subject: Re: Destroyed rivers
PostPosted: February 17th, 2010, 10:31 pm 
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The Manicouagan River, from the crater/Manic 5 and south to the Gulf.

Let's not forget the Kapuskasing River either.

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