Campsite and Visitor Survey - 2001

Lake Temagami and Vicinity

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Introduction

Backcountry campsites in the Temagami  region have experienced increased recreational  pressure over the past decade resulting in progressive site degradation, overcrowding and the displacement of dissatisfied traditional users. A combination of factors is responsible for this transformation. Essentially Lake Temagami remains unregulated. No backcountry management or user fee infrastructure exists. Outside commercial tourism operators have exploited  this  by bringing clients originating throughout  southern Ontario and the USA  into the Temagami area. An elevated "comfort zone" has attracted an  uninitiated user group unfamiliar with wilderness ethics and appropriate backcountry etiquette. This  follows the expansion and improvements to  provincial highway #11 from North Bay, the Temagami Access Road, and the township's docking and parking facilities at Lake Temagami's Mine Landing.

Photo: Campsite soil compaction, erosion and exposed roots on Cross Lake

Campsite soil compaction, erosion and exposed roots on Cross Lake.

Photo: Ian Huggett

Meanwhile Lake Temagami's resident canoeing camps  are contending  with  the effects of outside industrial tourism. Large groups of non-resident canoe tripping camps increasingly monopolize, litter and overload the social and environmental carrying capacity of Temagami's waterways and campsites. To compound the situation, maintenance of campsites and portages have been severely neglected. Provincial government cutbacks  and the closure of the MNR's Temagami office  have exacerbated the dilemma.

Finally, commercial enterprises  marketing  luxury and convenience vacations involving houseboats have introduced an incompatible, and frequently disruptive market segment into the region's  formally quiet backwaters.  Cottagers and wilderness enthusiasts complain of witnessing Temagami  evolve into   little more than  a  scenic venue for depreciative  social gatherings. Solitude and it's  restorative and inspirational  values - the hallmark of  Temagami's "wilderness" for over a century, have been sadly sacrificed in the scramble to capitalize on the aesthetics of its unregulated natural environment.

Purpose

The campsite evaluation and informal visitor survey, carried out during the summer of 2001 was designed to obtain baseline figures from which management decisions could be made. The intention was to rank qualitatively and quantitatively the biophysical attributes of each campsite. Visitor impacts were carefully documented to determine which sites require restoration, rehabilitation or closure. A privy box inventory was prepared  to establish installation priority at heavily used campsites to direct volunteer organizations. The survey included a compliance monitoring component. ( e.g. backcountry patrol).  The intent was to monitor, record and report infractions to the OPP and MNR. Accordingly, an inventory was compiled of negligent use on crown land deemed to compromise the enjoyment of visitors.  Negligent uses included  the presence of ice-fishing shacks, cached boats along portages and  squatters' camps.

An informal visitor survey served to determine the level of satisfaction among camp directors, private canoe trippers, outboard campers and house boat operators. The survey was intended to complement the objective measures acquired during the campsite inspection.

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