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Dams and explorations of Verdon

​The counter-attack of the Verdoniens

Since the 1960s and the advent of modern tourism, millions of visitors have come to contemplate the grandiose and bucolic sites the Verdon Gorges and Canyon. The first and the grandest canyon of Europe does not leave indifferent! The men in the service of the electricity fairy either. Do mean by that, that is not so much the beauty of landscapes and the Majesty of the Gorges that attract them, but rather what can make. And what they could well serve as a... Especially when considering... white coal production! Projects are not lacking, there are full drawers with regard to the Durance-Verdon perimeter.
That is to say projects that were conceived before, but after his act of baptism of 1946. These studies are classified secret, person, almost not had knowledge. This is the case to say, the straw that straw intervened when was created the Lake of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon. From that moment, defense and nature protection associations took shape and developed. in the Verdon.
The Verdonniens, indeed, had a little enough of all these projects in construction of dams, lakes and other structures designed to produce electrical energy. At the time, the Verdon had no legal protection specific to the defense sites and its environment. Men stood against these projects, Robert FERRATO, to the cities of Lake St. Croix and its immediate perimeter (Association for the Protection of Lake of St. Croix), Gilbert White, and Roger V HRDEGEN (Association Verdon-Human-Nature), for the area of the Gorge and the Canyon du Verdon. But also of the elect, notables, municipalities, regional and local authorities, and love individuals and defenders of the site came to join the group. E.D.F. is a State in the State, all knew that the counter-offensive would be long and tedious. Which did not prevent the birth of new projects coming straight from good thinking head of some engineers, supported in this by the all powerful administration.

Multiple projects to exploit the Gorges du Verdon

In 1967, one speaks of the creation of a book on the Carrejuan site, including the origin of the study dated from the beginning of the 20th century. And then, in 1970, while St. Croix project was not yet completed, it puts on the carpet the study which would lead to the creation of a book at the entrance of the corridor Samson, in the footsteps of now-famous Mr JAQUETTE. In 1975, then change your cardinal orientation and we head towards Moustiers Ste-Marie. The plan was, something, create a deduction in height of the city, on a high plateau called the Plan, and stand in the mountains at the height of the Knight chain, de Blacas, close to Notre-Dame de Beauvoir. Exit N. D. de Beauvoir and the famous chain! The same year, one goes to the Gorges to project the construction of a work to the Pas du Galetas, slightly upstream of the existing bridge which spans the shores of the Lake. A project from never alone, it was made to resume the study of helming the Verdon at the Point Sublime, churn water in penstocks, via the tunnels of the Martel Trail equipping them with pipes (always on the ancestral idea of Mr JAQUETTE) until a plant that would be built downstream of Moustiers Ste. Marie... The consequence would have been dry the riverbed between the corridor Samson and the Pas du Galetas. There, there would have had no risk of venturing into the canyon... and that... Beautiful walks in perspective! Same E. A. Martel would have been chills. In front of an unfavourable associative interlocutor to let conter fleurette, the Honourable institution due deliver its projects a later date.
Two other projects, which we knew from where they came, were thrown hurriedly on the table, ready to use...Two projects of size, because incommensurate with what was playing themselves, or be resolved: projects, respectively, «Chasteuil» and «Baker»

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The Chasteuil project

It is the year of 1980 that came the idea of wanting to steer the Verdon at the height of the Clues of Chasteuil, in the pre-Canyon. Unlike other studies developed so far, the water would have not returned to the torrent downstream of the dam, but taken via penstocks of 16.5 km in length to a power plant that was built to the Pas du Galetas.
In other words, all part of the pre-Canyon between Castellane and the Chasteuil Clues would have drowned under water. Straight pipes, pump relay would have not only picked up the waters of the torrent of the leases in the Samson corridor, but it would have helped to strengthen the race of water under pressure until it reaches its destination. The town of Castellane is would be found wedged between two lakes and two dams. Verdon received only a trickle of water, estimated between 0.3 and 0.5 m3, sacrificing at the same time the aquatic fauna and avifauna that needs more water to maintain and develop. Trout well they could also have been disappearing to the dismay of the fishermen. Aware of this effect, the fishermen came so join the defenders of the Verdon. In addition to the Chasteuil dam project, it was agreed to build a reservoir of very large capacity, in the Garret height, to the Val of Angouire. Water was reportedly pumped upward and stored in the restraint during off-peak hours so as to be again turbined down in the day. Goal: produce additional electricity. In the case of not being able to built the book in Chasteuil Glues, Chasteuil dam project provided, instead, to build a deduction at Carrejuan, upstream of the Salpêtrière parade, thus putting an end to the presence of Pont de Soleils. In the years 1982-83, this ambitious creation failed. Before this failure, the second study came to be unveiled. A way of saying in the midi, «rebelote»... The Baker was now going to monopolize the energies of the opposing forces.

The proposed withholding tax on the plateau of Barbin

The Baker Plateau is a vast forest expanse which overlooks the gorges between la Palud-sur-Verdon and Moustiers-Ste-Marie, from East to West, dominated by the Signal, or Mount Baker (1.561 m). The torrent of Valonge flows at this high level to reach the Val of Angouire downstream of Moustiers. Many trails are open, allowing to make pleasant excursions, departing from La Palud, pass the olive tree or from the Col of Ayen. High eaves extend the course towards the view full Summit. A few natural sinks are devoted to Speleological discoveries, including the most famous is the aven of the Grand Duke. Some 800 metres separate the Verdon of the first peak of the Plateau of Barbin. Place imagined and dreamed by e.D.F. to create an artificial waterfall for cause turbines, and ipso facto, to generate electricity.
Baker project envisaged the construction of a gigantic reservoir, in the middle of the plain of altitude, capable of holding hundreds of thousands of m3 of water.To the Verdon, the water in huge basins, was dropped in the day to be grafted. Night, water would be pumped to higher tanks to be stored. A power plant would be built near the St-Maurin Cascade to ensure that electricity production. Site would have been completely disfigured, since lines fill and empty tanks of the plateau of Baker were related, laid down along the cliff. April 18, 1982, an event organized by politicians, notables, and associations for the defence of Nature, brought together 1,500 people on the site where was to be built the restraint. We might think that 1500 people is a thin for an event number, but do not forget need moving participants from the cities located within a radius of more than 100 miles around, and have them come on site, after a 3 hour hike, at more than 1000 meters above sea level. The press and audio-visual media was the trip to cover the event.
Thus, the general public, previously a little removed from playing in the mountains and massifs of the Verdon would finally be informed. The widespread awareness and the mobilization of the inhabitants of an entire region, supported by militants from other regions of France, the consequence of all this resulted in a momentary removal projects and attempts to waterpower development of the e.D.F. in the Gorges of the Verdon. Just these happy obtained outcomes, other sources of conflict, still dedicated to the "increasingly at any price" would stand on the horizon.
It is at that time, in December 1980, precisely, that the Interministerial Committee tourist news units would allow a German company for the construction of a complex tourist megalomaniacal on the municipality of Ste-Croix-de-Verdon, on the banks of the Lake of Ste-Croix, La Louvière draft.

The project of La Louvière

Or, the paroxysm of excess. Project hallucinating which would have had its place in any desert location in the world to try to stand experience, la Louvière studies would have allowed to welcome more than 2,000 people divided between individual pavilions, a Kurhaus, a hotel, and the construction of tennis, golf, a dozen swimming pools, etc...
The site chosen, that of Louviere, stands on the right bank, in the Lake of St. Croix tail with for southern boundary the Gorges of Baudinard facing dam-factory of Ste-Croix. The German company responsible for finance this operation was also to ensure the management and the direction while presiding over the fate of the new city thus creates. The authorization issued by the authorities for the creation of these infrastructures, therefore the State ran over a period of 4 years. It was increased to 5 years at the mountain law. In 1987, Ms. a.-m. HEILMANN, spokesman of a financial group came across the Rhine, had to pay a deposit of 4 million Francs on a private account to ensure the proper performance of the work. The payment of this amount, for a reason that we don't know, is never performed. For 9 years, the Syndicat Mixte composed and favourable to this implementation, consisting of elected officials and notables of the Department of the Alpes de Haute-Provence, but also of the Region Provence-Alpes Côte d'Azur, tried unsuccessfully to raise the approval of investors likely to join the project.But, neither in Germany nor in France, a financial took the decision to embark on such an undertaking. For its part, the Syndicat Mixte, artfully approaches in steps, sterile, to find a buyer. For their part, defence and Nature protection associations multiplied their efforts to derail the project. These groupings were experienced over the years, and had "cut their teeth" the counter-offensive against e. coli.D.F. In projects of dams in the Verdon. The Verdonniens began to be used and the mobilization was frequent. But feelings of weariness began to emerge, as such a guerrilla war which corrodes the nerves and ambitions, all these retries really started with 'annoy' people. The site of La Louvière would have required a daily consumption of water representing the trifling sum of 200,000 m3 for the watering of the 18 hole golf course, parks, gardens, the Kurhaus, the hotel, besides the swimming pools and other basins. While at the same time, it refused to farmers in Valensole, located near the future site of settlements, the construction of works of water supply for the maintenance of the cultivated areas...

Failure of the project and a fresh start

The employment, not negligible factor was also distorted, because the majority of staff would essentially European and German origin. No guarantee of employment had been made to local populations.
Finally, absence of agreement (s) and credible investment, the tourist complex of St. Croix project turned to total failure, to the great relief of the defenders of wildlife, March 30, 1990. A project which took advantage of be scuttled itself, because certainly too ambitious and too expensive. The Syndicat Mixte with more reason to exist, was declared void and dissolved in June 1990. Certainly, we are constantly talking about use more and more increasing the massifs of the Verdon. A policy, delicate, facilities will be required in the future to offer to this customer infrastructure and opportunities for home comply with their wishes. It is now one of the delicate missions devolved to the P.N.R of the Verdon who has the burden. But this will not happen without upgrading spaces, and must register in a regional guidance plan that respects the geographic, human, social and cultural entity of the Verdon Gorges and Lakes region in particular.
The creation of the Verdon Regional Natural Park is an unexpected windfall which will certainly put an end to good number of more or less ambitious projects intended to destroy even a little more, this classic of world heritage. The Park has its rules and laws exist for the preservation of our natural heritage. Roger Verdegen, reflected in a few lines during "heroic" the incredible adventures of this country over the past two decades: '-since eleven years that I care of Verdon I have never was shot dead by the unequal combat that I support; in the end of 80 I am on the edge of disaster. The disgust is everywhere in me, destroying some forces remaining after five years of fierce struggle for the cause of the canyon triumph...".
Come in now to another project that thought never to see the day, but who aroused in France "a first", with the creation of a public debate around the project of the high line voltage of twice
400,000 volts, "Boutre-Carros. The investigation began: July 1998. Of Moustiers Ste Marie in Castellane, from West to East, cannot help but notice the presence of power lines that cross the territory. It is sufficient for it to look northward, from Rougon, for example, or hiking in the Highlands from both sides. Their presence dates back to the 1970s when the lower Verdon has seen dams and reservoirs be built over the course of the Verdon.
These electric national airlines connect dams-plants of the Verdon with the towns of the Mediterranean coast (Marseille in particular), but also the Alpes-Maritimes, Var, and further north, the Switzerland and the Italy. Weaving in Provence a cobweb hanging in the blue of the skies. Here, there are two routes which their journey, to the West, branches in Sainte-Tulle (to the South of Manosque) where is located a major electrical plant of the Durance-Verdon development program. In the mountains and massifs of the Verdon, their carrying capacity varies for each of them, 150 to 225,000 volts, depending on the traffic and demand.

The Boutre-Carros project

The Act of 2 February 1995 gives the possibility of a public debate on the justification for the large capital of the territory projects before taken the decision to carry them out. At the same time, it created a National Commission for the Public, the C.N.D.P. debate, chaired at its premiere by Mr. Hubert BLANC, Counsellor of State. The ministries of industry and the environment and the Federation France Nature Environnement seized late 1997 or early 1998, the C.N.D.P. that it is organizing a debate audience on the proposal of the e.D.F. create a line very high voltage (or, I.H.T.) between the centres of dhow (near Manosque, Ste-Tulle) and French Open (North of Nice). Mr Gérard PORCELL, Vice President of the Administrative Tribunal of Paris has been tasked to establish a particular Commission and presiding over the destinies of the public debate, for an initial period of 4 months (between the 15.03 and the 15.07.1998), which the commission said seat was fixed in sub-prefecture of BRIGNOLES (Var).
To synthesize the proposal of E.D.F. subject of this procedure, say that it was to build an air Highway, and no longer a national twice 400,000 volts, between dhow and Carros, whose seven-traces have been studied (over a period of 7 years). Six of the seven tracks had individually or collectively, to cross simultaneously Sites Classes, registered Sites, either the Canjuers military Camp. Seven routes crossing from side to side the Parc Naturel régional du VERDON... The project dates back to 1991, and a second opinion had been requested in 1993 on six tracks offered at the time. A seventh track had been studied in 1996 by e.D.F. at the request of the public authorities. This "option 7", as you might name it, was suspended (which means not cancelled so far...), the 7.11.1997.
Nevertheless remained six projects to study not in favour of that one. Of many round tables, public debates, and information meetings, face to face with supporters and opponents of the E.D.F. project were organized. Participated in these debates, elected representatives, associations, policies, municipalities, local authorities, policymakers, traders... all classes of society and all the forces of the Nation gathered to express their views on the subject. The goal is mainly to supply the Maritime Alps (and a part of the Var), whose energy demand is constantly increasing, to ensure a better balance of consumption are the extreme southeast of the France.
Participation is intense, and the interest aroused so important, that the Commission is seen, not in the obligation, but in the need to extend the date of July 15, 1998, September 15, 1998, either play extensions which lasted 2 months. Finally, this project will be also abandoned.

The first exploration by the bottom

When at the beginning of the month of August, 1905, the French geographer-geologist-adventurer Édouard-Alfred MARTEL came for the first time in the Verdon, its purpose was not that to full recognition by the bottom. His arrival coincided with the request made by Mr JAQUETTE to conduct surveys on the hydrology of the course of the emerald green torrent. The global study that it would call, would then the construction of deductions on the course of the river. Indeed, the beginning of the 20th century was the belle époque the electricity fairy and, with his advent, the development of waterways of France and Navarre for increasingly supplied electric energy production. Torrent Verdon was part of these ambitious projects which the majority was fortunately abandoned.

Édouard-Alfred Martel, the founding father of modern speleology

Born in 1859 in Pontoise, Édouard-Alfred Martel became registered with the commercial court of the Seine at the next brilliant academic studies. Nothing initially, predisposed this ambitious young man when at the age of 29 years emerges before him a career as an underground Explorer! 27 and 28 June 1888, MAZAURIAC and Henri De LAPIERRE team began recognition of the underground river of Bramabiau (St-Sauveur-des-Pourcils, Dept. of Gard) under the leadership of Malik. This attempt of exploration is in fact the first athletic race underground ever conducted in the world up to that date. Martel thus laid the foundations for modern caving and became the father of all bipedal cavity nesters passionate adventure in the bowels of the Earth.
Between 1888 and 1913, it will explore all known avens des Causses, the Alps and the Pyrenees. Discover caves in the Balearic Islands, Great Britain, Russia, Caucasian, in Greece, in Ireland, and it inventories the giant caves of Colorado, the Utha, Arizona and California to the United States.
With the breakthrough of the mystery of the Gouffre de Padirac, in 1888, Martel opens to general public tourism the possibility to conquer the most prestigious sites of the French underground. The work of Martel on surveys and the movement of groundwater is revolutionizing the world of science, leaving the closet all old outdated theories previously applied. The Parliament of the French Republic promulgates in 1902 an act to preserve the hygiene of the sources, rivers, lakes...It then becomes the law Martel, who bestows the title of benefactor of humanity. Price Martel rewards the works performed in the service of caving. In France and abroad, hundreds of clubs or associations bear the name of "Martel" and his writings remain references for speleologists of all time.
A man served him throughout his life and accompanied him in all his attempts, him devoting a true worship, and total dedication: Louis ARMAND. This locksmith born in 1854 in Parache becomes Martel foreman that it will faithfully follow in all his expeditions on Earth as under the surface of the globe. Armand will explore many chasms which bears his name, «Aven Armand», which will in fact, be the first guide Speleologist of all time. They will be both in the month of August, 1905, to perform one of their many adventures which will lead them, for the first time in the world, in the Lair of the Grand Canyon du Verdon. Édouard-Alfred Martel will shut off at Montbrison, in 1938, at the age of 79, after a life spent to enrich our knowledge about the discoveries of the underground world of our good old earth.

The exploration of the Gorges du Verdon

When Édouard-Alfred Martel contemplates the gorges of the top of the cliffs of the Sublime Point, in this early August 1905, arguably, without much chance of being wrong, that its main objective will not be in the Verdon to erect roadblocks, but venturing fully on the course of the Green torrent to explore global and total. Person so far there was ventured.
The company electric South East (the EESC) hosted by his chief engineer M. Jaquette (always the recidivist), brought in Martel in the Verdon so that the latter writes a complete and accurate report on hydrogeological survey of the Emerald River. Martel does not exactly this ear hear and decide everything else in the days that followed. After a first attempt of exploration aborted by Armand JANET in 1896, the Gorges du Verdon arouse much cravings, as that of the "first exploration by the bottom. A challenge, a record, an adventure, available to Martel.
Between the failure of Janet and 1905, many adventurers, sometimes alone or in group, wanted to cross the gorges from side to side, without however doing so.Just as this group of Swiss engineers, whose names remained unknown or were lost over the years, who wanted to pay the Chronicle, wanting to, them also, be the first winners of the discovery of the Verdon and who have them also failed.
Paradoxically, the names of the French adventurers who made the first full descent of the Colorado and Canyon, in 1950, remained as unknown!
What adjective assigned to Martel? Geologist? Geographer? Hydrologist, Speleologist, adventurer, scientist...? The fact remains that Martel performed a reconnaissance of the Gorges of the top of the vertical walls that overlook the bed of the Verdon, in the day of August 10, 1905.

The day of August 11, 1905

11 in the morning the team led by his faithful Armand consists of Armand JANET, the CHUKHLEBOVA of the FOREST, but also of Paluards (of La Palud-sur-Verdon) and Rougonnais (of Rougon) dedicated as Isidore BLANC, brothers AUDIBERT, Casimyr FLORY, Daniel Campbell, Baptistin FLORY, Prosper MAUREL, Fernand HONORAT. All take the path that goes from Rougon to corridor Samson. At the time there was no road, it was just a Bridleway linking the two sites.
Martel will join the Group ZÜRCHER, TEISSIER and the geographer Fernand CUVELIER, wishing them also to participate in the great adventure, in this 'high first' bringing their competition in this perilous event. Three boats, made of wood and canvas, are lowered into the water upstream of the entrance of the corridor Samson. Some of the team think that these boats are too fragile for the use you want to make. Canoes glide at the discretion of the current. In his account, Martel wrote later that the flow was estimated at 10 second m3. Probably, it would be less, because if that were the case, knowing the current face of the Verdon, the sequence of events could have dramatic consequences. 500 meters after the start, in the chaos that followed the site of the Baume aux pigeons, a boat may break down the rapids. Both of which follow seem to share the same fate in the immediate future when Martel decides to dock on the shore at the last minute and intimate agenda that sensitive or dangerous passages would be crossed by the Earth avoiding boulders and vegetation. A report that is that in 1928 will be developed that the trail of the Touring Club de France, which will focus in 1930 the appellation of "Trail Martel", between corridor Samson and the Chalet de la Maline. There was therefore no trail laid out by the bottom when Martel and his team embarked on the exploration of the Verdon in 1905. After well the vicissitudes experienced during this first day and bivouac will be mounted to the Baume aux pigeons, forcing the group to retrace his steps.

On August 12, 1905

August 12 in the morning, one of the boats is unusable. It is then not leave it on the spot, nor to separate from men to bring back. It must now be in back of men, food, ropes, measurement devices, equipment and boats... Martel and Armand let themselves slip up to La Mescla, then chue Janet is his teammates more often follow on foot, of Fords in Fords, the third skiff and the rest of the material... After La Mescla, there more enough water in the Verdon to continue by the riverbed. The entire crew builds on land and load equipment loaded boats. Around noon, the party arrived at the Estellie. Morale down before growth that becomes more harsh as littered with obstacles in all genres. The willingness of Martel to win the Imbut will shake them.
Rapids occur. Men are increasingly difficult to move forward. There are many obstacles. Ports become more exacting. The slope of the Verdon is accelerating and the current becomes stronger. They are not at the end of their sentences... the expedition has just begin. The cliffs rise above their heads in the dark. It is 18h.00. No matter what men now want to reach the Imbut before nightfall. An easier passage allows to back boats into the water and are stacking equipment.
It is near 8, when Armand disappears with his men and their canoe in the narrow hallway, and dark, dug by the Verdon in the middle of the torrent. The second boat is going to rush when it literally crashes the approach of chaos. Men, materials, supplies and equipment are precipitated in the turbulent waters. Martel powerless spectator of this terrible episode raises arms to heaven and exclaims a devastated air: '- but it's hellish, it feels before the river Styx here... "; now, the name of the place remained. This mini canyon, Canyon, to break the force of the current, written on cards in letters of gold: the Styx.
Two hours still needed to cross the 300 meters separating them from the Imbut. Camp tonight thence ascended late into the night. Men repair the boats with makeshift means.
Reached the Imbut, Martel thinks to turn back and put an end to this exploration. Others encourage their head and tell him to continue. All the way done deserves to continue the adventure.

On August 13, 1905

13 in the morning, the team is shakes and tries to force the area downstream of the Baou Beni. Progress resumes sometimes with Fords, sometimes by water, sometimes in a boat depending on the State. The diversion bays are filled with water. Persistent eddies, impossible to cross on foot. Morale down again. They are now engaged in the Canyon. The atmosphere is gloomy. The darkness and clarity at the bottom alternate Verdon. The sky plays with the cliffs. The difficulties increase yet. Ports are becoming increasingly frequent and tedious. '- We are at the bottom of a real well, our arms outstretched almost touch the walls...' would later write Martel. Louis Armand, stubborn and obstinate wants to pursue further, still further. The blocks and the chaos are crossed at the price of superhuman efforts. Fatigue wins the group. The boats have become virtually unusable. They are broken, smashed, they take water from all sides.
A bivouac is finally installed at the Cavalets. The men are exhausted, discouraged, and increasingly pessimistic on the future of recognition of the canyon. At the time of the meal, only the lapping of the torrent will come to disturb a profound silence. Nobody is talking about. Including Martel, who do not pronounce a single word. In this atmosphere heavy and heavy, they fall asleep one after the other.

On August 14, 1905, the end of the adventure

14 in the morning sunshine is dazzle the bottom of the canyon. Morale takes over. Men powered by the light of the star resumed their progress. "- After all, this is not so far, exiting...", blurts out one of them. Martel sees while the adventure can continue and, probably, go to completion. Everything is still possible...
The rapids follow the rapids. Their efforts grow, they are increasingly hard to advance. Cliffs stand proud above the heads, vegetation is omnipresent, trunks of trees uprooted by floods of spring litter the route, of chaos are piling up on each other, the rocks seem to be more and more difficult to climb, and need again and again, to overcome these obstacles one by one! One after the other... Advance. Progress, still... Men lose courage. They are now exhausted. They have exhausted their last forces to defeat these countless pitfalls. An escape to the Mayreste steps allows four of them to win the heights. They give up at end of breath, forces and hopes. This was without reckoning with the flying character of Martel. On the morning of August 14, 1905, Martel, Armand and the crew remained loyal, lead triumphantly to the Pas du Galetas. The Canyon of the Verdon has been explored, defeated, recognized.
The Roman of Aiguines Bridge acts as an Arc de Triomphe. Resulting in the plain of the rooms, they finally take foot on the banks to enjoy their first full descent of the Gorges and the Canyon du Verdon... Mission accomplished and successful. History, however, does not say if Mr JAQUETTE has been pleased with the report drawn up by Martel following his exploration bottom...
In 1906, Martel and part of his team of the previous year, will renew the experience but, this time, with boats and equipment suitable, more reliable equipment, and above all, experience doing the snowman, it will make them the most serene adventure. Isidore BLANC, teacher at Rougon, but also teammate of the first trip, advise them to use lifeJAQUETTEs kapok for nages Fords crossing-trimmed and pots filled with water. From this time onwards 'Mr. essituteur white' will create the first Compagnie des Guides du Verdon.

Other explorations

We know little about subsequent attempts of the descent of the canyon between that done by Martel in 1906 and the Second World War. It retains the testimony of Robert De JOLY who will perform a full crossing gorges and canyon on a canoe ancestor of kayaking, between 21 and 26 July 1928. It will be the first to pass through the halls of the Imbut aboard a skiff a kapok vest coated rubber.
In 1938, another adventurer, Albert MAHUZIER, Explorer and filmmaker French, will be scouting for a movie that it will carry out the following year, in 1939, under «Cruise Sauvage». 40 years later, great Albert Mahuzier tell, again, about the Verdon: "-it was not until 1938 that I had knowledge of this decor since then engraved for always in my eyes and in my heart!
At the end of the war, in the summer 1945, a group of Scouts Scouts performs recognition and already thinking of embarking in the discovery of the green waters of the torrent in the Paddle Boat. So during the summer 1946 members of the Canoe Club of France (ancestor of the Kayak Club de France) is committed to the integral of the gorges and canyon aboard frail boats.
En 1948, le Brussels Kayak Club lance ici la mode du canoë-kayak. «- Par la suite, le canyon devait manquer d'intérêt puisqu'il n'y eut plus d'autre exploit de ce genre...» raconte Roger Verdegen. Ce robuste sportif niçois fait ici preuve d'humilité et oublie de se citer. Car, entre 1970 et 1975, il allait organiser les plus célèbres compétitions de kayak dans le Verdon, et surtout, développer un tourisme aquatique des grandes frayeurs, en instaurant la descente des gorges et du canyon en radeau-rodéo et surtout en flottage au moyen de gilets conformes aux impératifs du Verdon. Il réalisa des gilets et un équipement adaptés à la pratique de cette discipline dans le Verdon... Verdegen fut aussi le premier à oser jeter à l'eau du torrent émeraude une embarcation en caoutchouc composée de boudins noirs pesant 1.500 kilos. Verdegen et son radeau hantèrent les fonds hostiles du Canyon pendant bien des années... Avant 1948, les grandes explorations par le fond eurent lieu en juillet et en août. Une bonne raison à cela. C'était la période d'étiage de la rivière émeraude, époque à laquelle son cours était à son plus bas niveau. Après cette date et la mise en fonction des barrages situés en amont, l'E.D.F. maîtrisait le débit imposé au Verdon. Dans l'incertitude de prévoir les lâchers d'eau, il devenait hasardeux, voire périlleux, de s'aventurer dans les gorges et le canyon. Si l'on devait réitérer aujourd'hui l'exploit de Martel, il faudrait compter sur un débit régulier d'au moins 5 m3 d'eau pendant S jours. Événement presque impossible à réaliser de nos jours du fait que personne, hormis l'E.D.F., ne sait quand les remontées d'eau faisant suite aux turbinages s'effectuent.
«It is twenty times that should browse this canon to dare to say that on the seen...» E. A. MARTEL (in "The ignored France" - 1930)

The geological reserve of the Alps de Haute Provence in the Gorges du Verdon

The bowels of the Verdon are marked by the testimony of million years that form the most perfect expression of the original creation. That one even to the origins of our planet: Earth.
After local conflicts that have lasted the trifle of half a century, between supporters and opponents, the Verdon is now officially recognized for the delight of the Verdonniens. It was high time, that water have passed under the pont de Tusset! A study that lasted a whopping forty years so that status come the groundwork for administrative protection to preserve this wonderful site.
It is time, in France, is aware that it also owns landscapes and territories to be protected until they are destroyed, or affected by a particular disease that affects the human species, that distort the nature.
The geological Reserve of Haute-Provence
The creation of the R.N.G.H.P. dates back to October 31, 1984, under the application of the law of July 1976 (Laws Mountain and coastline).
Provence geological Reserve covers the four periods of the construction of our planet. The basement, the richest archaeological area, the subject of important research. It contains very rare and diverse deposits. The work of the Centre based at worthy can be apportioned thus:
•    the primary era: deposits of plants (ferns, etc...),
•    Secondary era: aquatic and marine reptiles. Ammonites, belemnites, lamellibranchs, lizards, fish...
•    the tertiary era: traces of volatile prehistoric, shells no...
•    the Quaternary era: finally... humans and mammals.

The management of this Centre is ensured by a body based on the law of 1901 and includes local, regional, elected academics and members of the administration. The Scientific Committee so formed depends on the University of Provence. Is funded by the Regional Council and the General Council of the Department, as well as by ministries such as those of Culture, research, and environment.
The area of the natural Reserve covers more than 270 hectares distributed in 18 locations, North, centre, and South of the Alpes de Haute-Provence (site in Taulanne - Bathonian - Callovian Castellane and Gorges du Verdon ammonites). So the perimeter of the Zone of Protection extends on more than 150,000 acres and represents one-fifth of the Department of the Alpes de Haute-Provence with 37 municipalities. Added to this, the six communes of the Var - and their respective area - which come to be attached to the R.N.G.H.P., bearing since June 1998, the total surface area 1,900 km2 and gathering now 47 communes.Extraction of fossil deposits in any form whatsoever is strictly prohibited. It is only tolerated to pick up fossils of small size, but only those modified by rain erosion and outside sites under protection, i.e. those reserve and the peripheral Zone, but also, in very small quantities. One day or another, the authority concerned would do well to prohibit any pick-up in all places favourable to these findings in order to preserve our heritage.
What to think of this group composed of transalpine nationals, who during the 1987-88, came equipped with a pneumatic hammer and an air compressor to extract of the slab to the Ammonites of Digne (Site no. 7 - dating: 200 million years ago) fossil elements measuring one meter (and more) in diameter... Examples, there are plenty in the area!
It was during the summer 1988 that the Gorges du Verdon and the region of Castellane, have benefited from the protection due to the regulations of the Reserve geological natural de Haute-Provence.
Road information panels have been set up and remind customers that they enter the protected area. Starting from this principle, should observe the letter of the center of geology, namely:
•    do not extract fossils in large quantities,
•    do not trample nor walk on deposits,
•    formal prohibition of degrading the sites protected under penalty of prosecution,
•    respect the environment without harming the plants.

In fact, throughout the northern area of the Gorges du Verdon, otherwise the right bank, from Castellane to Moustiers Ste-Marie, belongs to the Reserve natural geological des Alpes de Haute-Provence.
Since summer 1999, the geological Reserve is extended with the accession of six common var of the Parc Naturel régional du Verdon. This area comprises a portion of the left bank, close to the river Artuby, between Le Logis du Pin and Bargème. Bargème, Brenon, Comps-sur-Artuby, Châteauvieux, La Martre, Le Bourguet, Trigance now belong to the geological Reserve.
These measures will certainly be the primary guarantee of backup of geographical and geological entities that have crossed the time to reach us as a testimony of the times gone. Also, we better understand the origins of our world and, show us that for so many wonders, we are infinitely small, almost nothing to the scale of the universe.
Still be necessary monitoring increased in summer period, close to sensitive areas, i.e. near the deposits. Because these fossil diggers are legion summer in this region.
Note, near Castellane, the beautiful site of the sirens, which, even if it is located in the open air is preserved, because covered with protective glass to be protected from unscrupulous visitors. It was during the summer 1998 the site has joined the geological Reserve. The House of Sirenia contains rich paleontological treasures.
Last company dated concerning the geological Reserve of the Scots Andy GOLDSWORTHY, sculptor (of the short-lived) of his State, which began during the summer 1999, to carry out a three-year-old dream: build three guardians of stone at the entrances to the Reserve. This neighbour of England, who likes as many of his compatriots Provence, has decided to connect the monolithic Sentinel by hiking paths also realizing a circuit over six days on market and bivouacs, between Durance, Verdon and country Dignois.

The Verdon: listed site

The first measurements of the classification of the Verdon date from 1950, two years after the waters of the dams upstream of Castellane. A concern arose to those charged to study the classification, including in relation to any part swallows Verdon from Castellane to Vinon-sur-Verdon because the torrent is the natural border between two departments:
•    the Alpes de Haute-Provence, in the North, (right bank);
•    the Var to the South (left bank).
This simple fact, institutional structures, but also differences of interest, constituted a significant obstacle in the optics of a regional protection unit and the defence of the most beautiful mineral and natural of Europe site.
In 1982, after many of the transactions and the palaver, the project's classification is re-launched. At the same time, a Commission of Sites and landscapes of the two departments concerned is created. The culmination occurs in 1984-85 with the constitution of a public utility inquiry and a land consolidation within the 63 municipalities interested in the procedure. Mr BELMONT, architect of buildings in France, was then oversee ongoing studies for the preparation of the draft classification. Meanwhile, in 1976, organized the Union joint des country du Verdon, who will attempt to take up the challenge of 1950.
In 1988, everyone is pleased when the Minister of the environment of the moment Announces 'the imminent instance of the ranking. Everyone is not satisfied at the same time, because for various reasons related to the divergent interests of each, some municipalities are not pressed so that this impending track day.
To temper events that jostling between private and common interests, the North Bank of the Gorges du Verdon is attached to the Reserve natural geological des Alpes de Haute-Provence in the summer of this year 1988.

First step towards classification

What caused an important first step in the culmination of the project's classification. Winter, cold peaks and tourists left, the debate to freeze in turn. Spring, 1989, new measures were announced: the zone would be soon dealt with in respect of the registered Sites. Finally, on March 4, 1990, the Official Journal of the French Republic issued a decree of the Prime Minister of the time, in the person of Mr Michel ROCARD, who endorsed the classification des Gorges du Verdon. 40 years after the first beginnings of a folder who was born in 1950, the procedure was completed. Thus, it is 20,000 hectares that were officially protected, and above all, finally recognized as site as part of our natural heritage.
The procedure involved in particular 5 communes: Castellane, Rougon, La Palud-sur-Verdon and Moustiers-Ste-Marie, to the Alpes de Haute-Provence.Aiguines to Var. From that moment, a more ambitious project would see the light of day. A project that would not take 40 years of reflections, but curiously 7...The Region, the departments concerned, the elected representatives, associations of defence and protection of Nature, and the inhabitants of the countries of the Verdon, in recognizing the importance of wealth, and the proven their environmental strengths, were therefore calmly a study which would lead to the creation of a future Regional Natural Park of the Verdon. Citing the Gorges du Verdon, Jean GIONO wrote: "-its banks remain so close that from one edge to the other can be known. For the record, according to his detractors, Jean GIONO was not fond the Verdon.S' it took as much time and effort to make the Verdon Park what it is today and become aware of its mineral and natural value intrinsic, it is for a certain reason. It is only since the 1960s that the «phenomenon Verdon"is considered as a reservoir to tourists summer, exceptional natural wealth, grandiose and sublime site. Since above all, nascent environmentalism but ecology in the sense of love of nature, a tourism of coastal areas saturated the summer, and a displacement of summer people who prefer now migrate to the mountains in the summer.
The region was somewhat "neglected", why not admit it! In fact, as soon as the Verdon is shown in the face of a wealth tourist and natural without equivalent, the men and women responsible for them, have decided to put an end to the actions of of doom to defend, protect, enhance and perpetuate "their Verdon. These are the Verdonniens.
Accomplished thing is and 'our' Verdon is on track to be considered to be the most beautiful of all the natural advantages of our good old Europe!

The regional natural park of Verdon

Dear wishful to many of verdonniens would bear children in pain for some, in happiness for the majority: the creation of this regional natural park awaited for decades and generations that have come and gone. Édouard-Alfred MARTEL it was (arguably) dreaming when already in the 1920s, he proposed measures for the protection of the Verdon. Ms. Corinne LEPAGE gave its reason to exist. For many years, some studies have been conducted on the ground for the safeguarding and protection of this exceptional natural heritage, the Verdon and the legendary gorges, which serve as a guard of honor. As early as 1980, associations were set up to publicize this vast territory, to discover otherwise, and above all, to consider a formal legal protection against any new project that would impair integrity wild, beautiful, where the adventure is still the goal.
The Conseil régional Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur launched the first surveys, and in 1988, the Verdon was selected among 5 major sites in southeastern. Some time later, the regional agency for the environment (A.R.P.E.) located in Bouc-Bel-Air (in the Bouches du Rhône), and Mr. Serge MENICUCCI, were responsible for the project.
December 17, 1990, exactly, the Council Regional smart envisaged the creation of a P.N.R in the Verdon and transmitted in 1994 the folder to the Ministry of the environment. Meanwhile, between 1991 and 1996, other studies were incurred, commissions were constituted, and meetings so that the project can find a favourable outcome.
Finally, by Decree No. 97-187, dated March 3, 1997, Ms. Corinne LEPAGE, then Minister of the environment officially created Parc Naturel régional du Verdon (Journal Officiel du 04-03-1997).
Yes Finally, because since that day in August 11, 1905, where Édouard-Alfred MARTEL was lunging in the exploration of Gorges and Canyon du Verdon (in the company of Rougonnais and Paluards) how many times this site has very nearly be disfigured, amputated of its finest attributes, become easy prey to developers and industrialists little scrupulous or unscrupulous.
Many new missions of the Park (whose headquarters is located in Moustiers Ste. Marie), such as:-identify local heritage, protect it, develop it, and contribute to its economic development, develop rewarding and innovative actions while ensuring the reception and management of more and more customers... and, to comply with three priority objectives 1 the allocation of water resources, the harmonious management of agricultural and tourist activities, and finally, the management of the site classified of the Gorges of the Verdon. And both in the field of the development landscape than in natural heritage to preserve.
Been more than twenty years I've dreamt of this legal solution for this exceptional natural heritage protection. Also many Verdonniens who were there before me faced with all these stories, were satisfied with this statement, because working on the ground for the protection of sites, they were so fully rewarded for their efforts.
The Direction of the Park is also to create events highlighting the topics that belong to this exceptional heritage and to reveal to the public the particularism and the richness of surface sites, like those of the basement. There's no oil in the Verdon, only a mineral rich composed of elements specific to enlighten us about the formation of our planet.
The dream became a reality: "The pastoral green Emerald Symphony" is now a truth and enjoys official status. The Serpent green Provençal very nearly be, not a species in danger of extinction, but a natural jewel, endangered...

Saint-Pancrace - Digne
Bléone Valley - Digne

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