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17,000 football fields of illegal clear-cuts in Temagami

Temagami is in the top ten provincial forests with the largest area in illegal clear-cuts

"Under such a system the area to be cut could be determined by what industry wants, not what the forest can sustain."

NOVEMBER 26, 2002 

71% of logging will be illegal clear-cuts; 

Ontario backing away from sustainability  

Seventy-one per cent of logging in the Temagami Forest will be illegal clear-cutting, according to a report released today. 

Clear-cutting is now the most common method of logging in Ontario and the province has launched a campaign to back away from forest sustainability.

The report says that 11,115 hectares of clear-cuts in Temagami exceed the legal size limit. This is larger than 17,000 football fields (twice the size of the area previously reported by Ottertooth). 

"Forest management plans can be easily manipulated to create the illusion that large clear-cuts are rare," the report states. 

    REPORT:  Clearing the Forest, Cutting the Rules (PDF file)

Timber first, forest last 

Ontario has launched a campaign to water down current timber laws by March 23, 2003. It wants to legalize large-scale clear-cuts.

It also wants create timber targets to satisfy industrial demand. "Under such a system," the reports states, "the area to be cut could be determined by what industry wants, not what the forest can sustain."

Forests for Tomorrow, an environmental coalition, is fighting Ontario's effort to gut logging laws. The impact could be more negative than the positive impact of the Lands for Life park and reserve creations of a few years ago. One step forward, two steps back.

    WEBSITE:  Forests for Tomorrow

The Ministry of Environment has launched an investigation under the Environmental Bill of Rights into the illegal clear-cutting. But can one government department objectively investigate another, especially when the stakes are so high?

MNR justifies most clear-cuts by arguing that it emulates fire. Scientists have publicly refuted it. The environment commissioner recently called this new approach a "massive experiment." 

Forest fires and clear-cuts are radically different. Unlike fires, clear-cuts remove nutrients, allow pathogens to survive, cause runoff, convert spruce forests to hardwoods, bring in roads and allow species invasion. 

Clearing the Forest, Cutting the Rules was written by Earthroots and Sierra Legal Defence Fund and covers most of Ontario's public forests.

The numbers in the report for Temagami apply to the current five-year management plan. A new plan for the next five years is in the creation stage.

The report is a reminder that forest industry has been the primary stakeholder in our forests and government continues to squeeze out the others.


Illegal clear-cutting in Temagami  

MNR under investigation for illegal clear-cutting

Public opposes bigger clear-cuts: poll

Scientists oppose Ontario's clear-cutting plan

   BACKGROUND:  Logging in Temagami

NOVEMBER 21, 2002 

Anti-environmentalists using hate letter

Some Temagami businesses are distributing a form letter to their customers that accuses environmentalists of being terrorists.

"It is written in a manner to arouse anger and hatred towards people like myself," Temagami resident Les Wilcox wrote in an e-mail to town council. "I would suggest that it is the author of this letter who is the dangerous terrorist."

John Hodgson, the town administrator, in the e-mail response to Wilcox wrote: "I find the letter to be a breath of fresh air. I will go out and find one, sign it, and send it in."

Legal, peaceful protests were held recently. The letter states, "We really feel that their tactics are a form of terrorism, and the people on site and the people behind the scenes should be charged under the Criminal Code." 

The letter to the Minister of Natural Resources ridicules a legal challenge to a logging road in the protected Bob Lake Conservation Reserve. The legal action is being taken by environment group Earthroots.

Les Wilcox wrote: "This action, which does represent the best interest of many people in Temagami and Northern Ontario, is not radical at all. In making this case Earthroots is acting totally within our system of government."

"Environmental protection is good for tourism and tourism is the lifeblood of Temagami," Richard Brooks of Earthroots says.

Debby Smith distributed the letter. She says she doesn't know who wrote it, but found it on her desk at Human Resources Development Canada in Temagami with a written request to circulate. She made photocopies and took it to local businesses.

It is available at Temagami Shell (which includes the Subway and Country Style), Busy Bee restaurant and Temagami Boat Livery.

Updated: Nov.22 10:30 a.m.

NOVEMBER 18, 2002 

Camps take leadership in promoting low-impact camping

Temagami's youth camps are encouraging low-impact camping with the release of "Camping Ethics for Backcountry Travel in Temagami." 

This summer members of the  Association of Youth Camps on the Temagami Lakes (AYCTL) wrote and published the guide in the face of growing problems as recreationists and tourists have flocked to the area. 

The youth camps hope to educate. "There is no enforcement of our guidelines, but rather an effort to lead by example and develop broader support for good camping practices," says Pegi Dover of Project C.A.N.O.E.

The camps hope to get the support of other local groups and outside organizations that use the area. The Temagami Lakes Association, representing property owners on Lake Temagami, was the first to endorse the guidelines. 

The most obvious problem has been the degradation of campsites, particularly on Lake Temagami. Volunteers with the AYCTL, Temagami Lakes Association, Committee for the Preservation of the Temagami Wilderness Experience (a property owners' group), Lady Evelyn Owners and Users Association, Ian Huggett, Smoothwater Outfitters and Temagami Outfitting have done cleanups in recent years. 

The Ontario government has not had an active cleanup program since the early 1990s and has made no aggressive effort to educate the public. 

  DOCUMENT:  Camping Ethics for Backcountry Travel (PDF file)

                               Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to read PDF files

  BACKGROUND:  Campsite and Visitor Survey 2001

NOVEMBER 15, 2002 

Mary Carol's funeral held today

Over 100 people attended Mary Carol's funeral and cremation today in North Bay. Alex and several of her children spoke. In her eulogy she was called "a symbol of light and hope."

NOVEMBER 12, 2002 

Mary Carol's funeral on Friday

Mary Carol's funeral service will held in North Bay on Friday at 2:00 p.m. The family will be receiving visitors from 12:00 to 2:00 at Martyn Funeral Home.

Place: Martyn Funeral Home, 464 Wyld St.

Photo: Mary Carol Mathias

Mary Carol Mathias

Photo: Chris Melanson

NOVEMBER 11, 2002 

Mary Carol Mathias dies

Last night Mary Carol Mathias died suddenly at her home on Obabika Lake. Her death came as a shock as she was an energetic 54-year-old.

Mary Carol and her husband Alex are famous for their hospitality to passing canoeists, their sharing of native ways and their devotion to protecting the environment and Nishnabai culture. 

Mary Carol has been a leader in the fight to save the Spirit Rock sacred grounds from logging. She was a buoyant, warm spirit who always had a hot pot of tea for anyone who stopped by and her door was always open. There was never any hesitation in sharing what she had in her simple life.

She spent a lot of time in the forest and strongly believed in its healing abilities. Her teas were probably her signature gift to guests. They were brewed from plants she gathered: cedar leaf, spruce root, cherry bark, Labrador tea, yarrow. And she knew all of their medicinal values.

The cause of death is unknown. She is survived on Obabika Lake by her husband Alex, her daughters Carollee and Natasha, and six dogs; and by two daughters and five sons from a previous marriage.

Lucky are those who know someone who has left such a strong imprint that every memory brings a smile. I count myself lucky.

The Lady of the Lake will be missed.

Brian Back

Updated: 2:45 p.m. 3:45 p.m. 

NOVEMBER 7, 2002

Earthroots campaign director leaving

Richard Brooks, Earthroots campaign director, is leaving the environmental group in January. The group has been on an upswing in activity since Brooks took the position three years ago.

He is best known in Temagami for his work fighting logging between Lake Temagami and Obabika Lake. Brooks cites personal reasons for his departure. 

Earthroots has been active in Temagami since its founding in 1991. It is challenging in court a logging road in the Bob Lake Conservation Reserve. The case, likely to be precedent setting, is expected to be heard December 9. 

NOVEMBER 7, 2002

Temagami Nishnabai speaking at Waterloo


Elder Alex Mathias and Gloria Katt of the Temagami First Nation will be speaking at the University of Waterloo about the struggle to protect Temagami.

Date: Wednesday, November 13

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: University of Waterloo, Davis Centre, Rm 1302

Contact: or 519-888-4882

NOVEMBER 4, 2002

Conservation reserve illegally logged

Last year, Liskeard Lumber logged a protected conservation reserve. This is the same company that is licensed for sensitive logging in blocks 30 and 46, which both abut protected areas.

Liskeard Lumber was logging block 42 alongside the southern boundary of the Cliff Lake Conservation Reserve and cut ten hectares inside the reserve. Ministry of Natural Resources staff found the clear-cut after the fact, in September 2001, and fined the company.

Jeff Barton of Liskeard Lumber called the cut an "error."

Liskeard Lumber was fined $2,500, an amount calculated to be the profit on the trees taken out. "It's a pathetic amount," says lawyer Jerry DeMarco of Sierra Legal Defence Fund. The maximum fine is $15,000 plus five times the full value of the trees taken out.  

"You need a fine large enough to act as a deterrent," DeMarco says. A fine equivalent to the profit "seems like a license," as "MNR rarely prosecutes." One reason may be that planning, promotion and enforcement are in the same agency.

MNR has only now fully disclosed the details of what it calls a "trespass." first requested the information in August. There is no public registry of MNR enforcement measures and the Sierra Legal Defence Fund has proposed a public online registry to the Ontario Ministry of Environment, which is currently reviewing logging rules.

The application of the law is grossly inconsistent. "Forestry infractions they don't take very seriously, while taking hunting, fishing and water infractions seriously."

NOVEMBER 4, 2002

Heavy snow closes schools

Five centimetres of snow and poor visibility have closed Temagami and Elk Lake schools today.

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