Nov. 18, 1991
Dear Mr. Hertz,
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for becoming involved and taking the initiative to invite key personalities to partake in a rafting trip down part of the proposed flooded section of the Great Whale River. This river, as well as, the other surrounding rivers are critical habitat for the survival of, not only animal species, but to sustain the Cree way of life. The Cree have long maintained that the resource they are trying to protect is far more precious in its natural wild state than as part of any hydroelectric reservoir and generating station. There are few places left where man has not developed or altered nature to fit his design.
The objective of the trip was to create awareness and to provoke action on the part of its participants. You succeeded brilliantly! By inviting key players in the New York political milieu, you succeeded in putting a human face of the proposed destruction of one of North America's last pristine wildernesses. We've talked with Senator Franz Leichter, Assemblyman Bill Hoyt, as well as, Robert and Michael Kennedy on several occasions and the trip impressed upon them the importance of the river to the Cree. In fact, these gentlemen have setup and conducted hearings on the appropriateness of New York State purchasing power generated by the proposed Great Whale Hydroelectric Complex. According to all involved in the various facets of the trip, your expedition was the catapulting and cementing force that brought these people, not only together, but made them aware of the enviromnental and social implications of this project. Their awareness has had a positive effect on New York Power Authority, they are no longer blindly entering into a purchase contract without some understanding of the stakes, both to New Yorkers (economics)and to the Cree (disruption of their way of life). Last week we were surprised to receive a visit from Vincent Tobin, Vice President of the New York Power Authority and although he did not say so, it was understood that the visit by your expedition and its members played a key role in inciting them to see for themselves what's at stake.
For the Cree, the training of their youth on how to operate and run these trips in the near future provides the community with valuable alternatives to destructive hydroelectric development. We are quite aware that development of the territories resources must be undertaken with the utmost care, eco-tourism or whitewater rafting, controlled and operated by a Cree entity assures that this development is done within the limits of the natural environment to sustain it. The operation of limited trips, like those undertaken by you, fits within the limits, they have of development.
We would gladly be part of a similar expedition in the future should you so desire to undertake one during the summer of 1992. Again, we thank you for all you have done to promote the preservation of free flowing rivers and environmental awareness. We hope to see you undertake more rafting trips on the Great Whale and surrounding rivers in the coming future. Some view these trips as "fun" or "touristiclike", in fact the are an extremely important vehicle to create awareness and alternative solutions to a complex environmental problem.
Luis Eguren,Local Coordinator - G.C.C.Q.Whapmagoostui Nation
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