Photo courtesy of www.dougpyperphoto.com
The Duhamel Watershed Society (DWS) was formed in 2013 when the community became concerned over logging activity that was seemingly excessive and unchecked over the long term. Alerted by a steady convoy of logging trucks coming down the draw and heading west on Hwy 3a and rumors of landslide events, water quality and flooding concerns loomed large in the minds of the people living in the local community.
Duhamel Watershed has a total area of 5,825 ha of which only 955 ha are considered to be operable or available for logging operations, owing to the rest being too steep, potentially unstable terrain, or in the Old Growth Management Area (OGMA). Within the Duhamel Watershed 1754 ha of the forest is declared as OGMA. About 416 ha of this operable area have been harvested including the construction of 41 km of roads. It is important to point out that the alluvial fan of the Duhamel Watershed is home to an estimated 1100 residents and approximately 600 people draw their drinking water from the streams originating on the steep slopes above their homes. In addition, approximately 100 students and staff attend L’ecole des Sentier-alpins, which is located in close proximity to the lower banks of Duhamel Creek.
Snowmobiling in the Duhamel Watershed in the winter months is a popular pastime of many sledding enthusiasts. This is evidenced by Kootenay Lake Tourism, which dedicates a page with description and maps of popular sledding trails on its website.
ATVing in the watershed during the summer and shoulder seasons is a natural follow-up activity for the winter snowmobiles as well as many other local outdoor enthusiasts. Access for ATVing is made ridiculously easy by way of a myriad of both old and new logging roads that criss cross the entire watershed below the alpine.
In the summer months of July and August many local residents frequent their favorite huckleberry patch and climb up and down the slopes to gather their annual harvest.
Fishing is also a common activity for visitors and locals alike. There are many spots along the creek that bode well for creek fishing and the four lakes at the top of the watershed which are dispersed with beaver dams supply campers and fishermen with a delicious meal of fresh fish over open campfires or, their backyard barbecue for the day-trippers.
Overnight campers in the Forestry park site, during the summer months are frequent and they can attest to many ‘Sunday driver’s’ who drive the 6-mile Lakes Road over and down through Lemon Creek to the Slocan Valley.
A commercial heli-skiing operator has submitted an application to set-up business in the 30 km of land north of Nelson in the spring of 2015. The Duhamel Watershed will be a main transportation corridor if this venture is approved.