Campsite and Visitor Survey - 2001

Lake Temagami and Vicinity

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From 1977 to 1984 I was employed by the MNR as an Interior Ranger.  A new maintenance program was initiated to monitor all campsites and portages within the Temagami wilderness area (which covered four administrative districts).  The emphasis of the program was to disperse heavy canoe traffic concentrated along  Lady Evelyn Waterway Park,  the only existing remote park in the district at that time.  By clearing new routes and creating a larger inventory of linear trails, traffic was spread over a  broader region and  pressure was reduced on congested corridors.

Photo: Soil erosion leaving exposed roots on a Wasaksina Lake campsite

Soil erosion leaving exposed roots on a Wasaksina Lake campsite.

                     Photo: Ian Huggett

A regular maintenance program removed in excess of 5,000 bags of garbage over a seven year period, mostly from easily accessed campsites (Temagami, Lady Evelyn, Anima Nipissing...). The type of garbage was analyzed and categorized by user-group.  Portages and campsites were cleared and cleaned regularly during this period.

In 1982-1983 I carried out an indepth campsite survey of Lake Temagami.  There were over 150 campsites monitored and we made recommendations that 2% or 4-5 sites be closed to recreationalists due to environmental degradation. [This follow-up report reveals the  figure has now risen to 12%].  We found over 50 unregistered garbage dumps used by cottagers and tourist camps.

When  Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Park was created (1984) my tenure finished and the program of trail maintenance extended only two more years.

Recreationalists speculated that the government allowed the depreciation of routes outside  park boundaries to facilitate the implementation of " multi-use" proposals; making it unattractive for wilderness recreationalists to visit these areas, or unable to do so because of logging and  overgrown trails. These routes were slated for timber " harvesting " and the MNR made an attempt to facilitate the process by neglecting Crown Land maintenance.

Other factors have come into play such as: the introduction of houseboats, a more mature canoeing fraternity that seeks solitude and adventure elsewhere and the large number of over-sized canoe groups accessing the Temagami hinterlands. Over the past three decades I have also noticed a change in the general attitude of canoeists. Canoeists tend to want more access and are not willing to work as hard paddling to remote areas. 

In 1988 to 1992 the overall canoe traffic in Temagami peaked; after this period the remote trails became generally unusable and pressure came to bear on traditional, easily accessed routes; namely the routes investigated in this report.  

Hap Wilson

September 11, 2001

Rosseau, Ont.  

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