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Farabout Coalition introduces paddlers to natural gem

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
Members of the Farabout Peninsula Coalition hosted 22 kayakers and canoeists for a look at the unique biodiversity of the Eagle Lake peninsula. Photos by Anne Brown

By Jon Thompson

The newly discovered biodiversity of the Farabout Peninsula,has begun to develop a culture.

Naturalists who have found the Eagle Lake area to be rich in natural value has bolstered the movement that began as resistance to logging in 2008.

On Aug. 11, nearly two-dozen kayakers and canoeists paddled the peninsula’s perimeter from Littleneck Bay, searching for spotted water hemlocks, Canada warblers, olive-sided fly-catchers and nighthawks as they toured the site of 10 bald eagle nests, the oldest of which has been there over 55 years.

None of the participants were yet members of the Farabout Coalition and the cause of protecting biodiversity, species at risk and shoreline life from logging had a captive audience with a natural theatre.

“It has evolved. It has gone from life sciences on there to collecting data at the shore beds and eagles around the peninsula. Now we’re expanding with spawning of fish and we’re getting to research and public presentations,” said organizer, Dale Mackenzie. “I think as we’re going through time, there’s more and more cutting and people are becoming more aware of their environment because there’s more information out there. You want to hang onto what you have. In the past, people would say, ‘it’s a bunch of tree-huggers.’ Now, not so.”

The coalition sees a budding economic value in ecotourism as well as social and environmental value that results from increased consciousness of the interdependency of studying a small but valuable corner of the local ecosystem.

“I think a lot of people appreciate what they see but they don’t know what they’re looking at,” explained Carolle Eady. “They’re kayakers and they enjoy the beauty that’s there but there’s lots of education to do on what exists on that piece of land that makes it so unique. The diversity on Farabout comes from all the habitats around here and the species that need them can’t live anywhere else.”

From the sky to the lakebed, the next focus will be accounting for muskellunge, a species that once crowned Eagle Lake with a 1939 world record for the largest size. Maintaining muskie spawning habitat, the coalition argues, not only protects the nine tourist camp operators in the area but it requires clear water, a factor it argues is inconsistent with the increasingly common practice of cutting trees to the water’s edge.

“You can go around any of these bays and we have anecdotal evidence from people who have guided on the lake,” Mackenzie said. “This whole peninsula is surrounded by big weed beds, which is a natural state. Most of the muskie guides feel it has great potential for the next world record.”

A snapping turtle suns itself on a rock on the Farabout Peninsula.

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