New Film Aims to Protect Costa Rica’s Pacuare River


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Produced by Amigos del Río Pacuare, “Troubled Waters: Costa Rica’s Río Pacuare” was filmed on the premise that the people whose lives are most influenced by the river and those already impacted by nearby dams should be the ones telling the story.

During the 40-minute journey through the river canyon and its riparian communities, interviews with native Cabecar Indians, whitewater boaters, politicians, activists and energy company representatives illuminate the issues surrounding the standoff between permanent protection and dam development on the Río Pacuare, where environmentalists already once defeated the building of the Dos Montanas Dam on the river’s narrowest gorge.

“The Pacuare is one of the most complete recreation river in the world,” says Rafael Gallo, owner of outfitter Rios Tropicales, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. “From source to sea it can be navigated by kayak or raft, from Class V to great commercial Class II-IV , it flows thru more than five different microclimates, as well as an Indiginous Reserve, Protected Zones, mangrove swamps and a protected beach at its outlet to the Caribbean Sea.”

“The time has come to move forward with plans to permanently protect the Río Pacuare,” maintain the filmmakers. “For decades the Cabecar Indians that live in the Pacuare basin have worried about whether their lands will one day be submerged under a series of dams and reservoirs, changing their way of life forever.”

In 2005, in a plebiscite (a constitutionally recognized mechanism for citizens to make decisions about their communities) the people of Turrialba voiced their desires to save this river in a landslide vote saying no to any dams on the Río Pacuare.

Since then, citizens have waited for the government to designate the river a national park or national monument. Today, however, instead of celebrating on the river, locals are worried as chainsaws cut trees and heavy machinery move along river banks they feel should be protected. “We are hopeful that the new government administration, under President Luis Guillermo Solís, will finally make the permanent protection of this river a reality with a national monument designation.”

View the film HERE


Staff Post
Staff Post
Paddlers writing about all things paddling.


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