Floating the Calcurrupe River

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Text by Camilo Hornauer and Bastián Oñate
Photos by Pablo Lloncón and Camilo Hornauer 

A massive and joyful day of rowing and citizen demonstration was had on Saturday, May 29, on the Calcurrupe River, located near the towns of Futrono and Lago Ranco in the Los Ríos region. 

The event sought to call attention to a healthy and free river, which is not compatible with development projects that could impact such qualities, such as the eventual installation of the Calcurrupe River Fish Farm of Agrícola Sichahue Ltda. Local and regional residents, organizations, tourism companies and indigenous communities of the Mapuche Ancestral Territory Williche of Calcurrupe – Auquinco participated, who together wanted to express loud and clear their strong and clear determination to protect the natural landscape here. As well, they called on regional authorities like Senator Alfonso de Urresti, Congressman Marcos Illabaca, the mayors of Lago Ranco and Futrono, and candidates for intendente (governor).

 

 

The event, dubbed "Float for the Defense of the Calcurrupe River," was articulated around a 14-kilometer descent from Puerto Los Llolles on Lake Maihue, where more than a 100 people navigated the transparent waters of the river in kayaks, rafts, wooden boats, paddle boards, and packraft. Without a doubt, the attendees enjoyed an exciting tour, with rapids included and a light rain that in no case overshadowed the energy that summoned us and that with each paddle connected us as a community with our natural environment. 

 

 

At least another 100 people joined us on land, along the river and from the road bridge near Llifén. The chants and signs held up by event participants, together with the paddlers, made for a colorful and exciting day that no doubt had an effect. As Guido Calfueque, a tourism entrepreneur in the sector, commented that day, "the Calcurrupe was at its finest."

 

 

The event made visible the beauty of the natural environment of the river, so far free of invasive projects, which would change with fish farming, an activity that will contaminate the river, negatively impact biodiversity and local economic activities based on tourism, and affect the quality of life of the inhabitants of the territory and its culture.

 

 

The Calcurrupe River has an estimated flow of 100 to 160 m3/s and is the main river that feeds Lago Ranco. It is part of the Biosphere Reserve of the Southern Temperate Rainforests, an area also considered by Chile's tourism ministry as "Zone of Tourist Interest Lago Ranco-Futrono".

 

Foto: Sebastián SaiterFoto: Sebastián Saiter

 

In this territory, among other species, is present the charismatic and elusive huillín (Lontra provocax), a species of otter considered endangered. There is no doubt about the importance of biodiversity and the tourism potential that this landscape has. Even its waters are officially protected for fishing, an activity that has historically been done respectfully by local residents. "It is indispensable the conservation of the Calcurrupe River. The rich ecosystem of this place is an invaluable part of the cultural and natural heritage of residents in this area. Definitely, it is a natural place that we must conserve for future generations," says Senator Alfonso De Urresti.

We hope that the conservation of nature and ecosystems, as well as the welfare of the people and communities in these territories, will continue to be a kay issue for the future of the Los Rios region. 

 

 

 

 

The Calcurrupe River Fish Farming project was entered into an environmental impact assessment process, through an environmental impact statement five times between 2010 and 2011.

It was during its last effort carried out in 2011, that the Environmental Assessment Service (SEA) rejected the project, because the environmental impacts involved in such an activity necesitates the presentation of an environmental impact study (Resolution No. 53/2012 of the Environmental Assessment Service of the Los Ríos Region).

However, the company filed an appeal, and was eventually granted a permit that included new environmental requirements to supposedly reduce the environmental impacts of the project (Resolution No. 725/2013 Executive Directorate of the Environmental Assessment Service).