Campsite and Visitor Survey - 2001

The State of Outdoor Recreation in and around Lake Temagami

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The visitor survey was an adjunct to complement the objective measures obtained during  campsite inspections. Unlike the campsite evaluation, the visitor survey  is not considered exhaustive,  nor does it have  any statistical validity. Visitors questioned encompassed the whole user spectrum of outdoor recreation: commercial and private canoe trippers, resident youth camp directors, outboard campers, houseboat operators and resident cottage owners. Approximately 80 members of the vacationing public  were interviewed  during the inspection period.  Caution should be applied to generalizing attitudes recounted here to all visitors.

Photo: Garbage left behind at firepit on Kokoko Lake

Garbage left behind at firepit on Kokoko Lake.

Photo: Ian Huggett

For example,  none of the visitors "overtly" objected  to the implementation of a regulatory user fee.  Experienced canoeists applauded  application of a campsite fee providing funds were redirected into campsite  restoration and portage maintenance.  During the past decade this cohort has witnessed the steady deterioration of campsites in Temagami from  crowding  and over use.  Injecting funds back into the interior's  recreational environment would be  a sensible procedure to substitute  the MNR's former maintenance programs.

Conversely,  many inexperienced and novice canoeists  admit choosing Temagami as a recreational destination to avoid the costs incurred elsewhere in Ontario's park system.  It was found that young inexperienced canoe parties in particular  were less discerning  and often oblivious to degraded campsite conditions. Many were just graduating from car-camping experiences in commercial campgrounds. They lack pre-existing criteria to compare their outdoor experience with past conditions. With few preconceptions many accepted deteriorated backcountry campsite conditions  as normal. Most university students  leading  youth groups from outside the region also harbored this misperception.

Finally, the constricting regimentation characterizing  Algonquin Provincial Park which confines campers to  strict pre-trip planning and campsite selection  confines the spontaneity  inherent in wilderness travel.  Although the author does not recommend a comparable " institutionalized" system in the Temagami area, measures must be taken to  protect the environment while educating, regulating and monitoring  visitor behavior. All environmental indicators  suggest  that if this is not done conditions in Temagami will continue to  deteriorate.  Much more research is required in this area.  Hopefully, this informal survey will complement any ongoing four year rotational self-survey initiated by Parks Ontario in non-operational parks such as Lady Evelyn and Obabika waterway parks.



There was overwhelming support from all visitors for the implementation of regulations designed at reducing crowding (inter-party encounters) and  encouraging backcountry etiquette standards involving education ( see photo # 14)  and compliance monitoring. Personal Water Craft ( PWC) were universally condemned by practically all groups except houseboat operators who frequently used them in addition to leasing  outboards. Not surprisingly the  single most noteworthy  complaint recorded on Lake Temagami was the inappropriateness  of houseboats in a "wilderness setting" and the behavior of its occupants.

In short, all canoe trippers, including resident youth camps favored the implementation of a user fee structure providing the revenue collected was funneled back into campsite maintenance and backcountry compliance monitoring. There was also overwhelming support by all visitors and resident cottagers  for an expansion of a non-motorized backcountry patrol presence on Lake Temagami and surrounding lakes.

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