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JUNE 27, 2003

Fire hazard eases slightly

With cooler temperatures and scattered, light rain, the fire hazard has eased. The rating is still high, but the threat of a fire ban is not imminent.

Fire bans across much of northern Ontario have been lifted.

JUNE 23, 2003

34 degrees sets record

The temperature hit 34 C at 4:00, breaking the previous record for this date of 32 in 1995. The normal temperature for this date is 23.3 C.

JUNE 23, 2003

Forest fire smoke visible from space

A shot of smoke over Temagami and northern Ontario as it was pulled in from James Bay by a high-pressure area yesterday.

   SATELLITE PHOTO:  Smoke visible from space

JUNE 22, 2003

Extreme fire hazard

MNR has just upgraded the fire hazard to extreme. Be safe. Be prepared for a fire ban. See story below.

Posted 1:45 p.m.

JUNE 22, 2003

Fire ban coming?

With no rain in the forecast and other areas in northern Ontario under open-fire ban, Temagami could be next.

The area is currently under a High fire-hazard warning. The forecast shows hot, dry, sunny days for most of the week. Parts of the Kirkland Lake area to the north and all northwestern Ontario are under fire ban due to the extreme fire hazard there.

Be safe and be prepared for an open-fire ban (campfires not permitted). Under a ban, backcountry travel is still permitted but cooking can only be done with a stove.

Updated 1:30 p.m.

Map: Solace Wildlands logging proposed

JUNE 21, 2003

Government targets more wilderness for logging; park's remoteness at stake

The Ministry of Natural Resources has quietly slipped a new logging area into the middle of the timber-planning process, and the target for logging: roadless wilderness; rare virgin forest, old-growth jack pine. 

This forest lies next to Solace Park, a remote wilderness currently inaccessible by road. Roads would be built into the area for the operation, which would be clear-cutting.

As demonstrated in a recent report by the Wildlands League, once a logging road is built, it may never be effectively closed, even when guaranteed in public land-use and timber plans.

If approved, the allocation known as block 60 will be logged sometime in the next five years.

  PREVIOUS STORY: Road closures a failure

 BACKGROUND: Preliminary logging plan


JUNE 12, 2003

Closed campsites list

These campsites are either closed or have use restrictions placed by Ministry of Natural Resources.

 LIST:  Restricted-use campsites

JUNE 4, 2003

Ontario law to crown logging king of the forest

Ontario's Minister of Environment is about to sign away years of carefully crafted environmental protection for Ontario's forests in favour of a logging-first policy, says Wildlands League.

Clear-cut limits will be removed and the size of a clear-cut could be as large as a small city. The new law will surrender old-growth forest and roadless wilderness. Roads will proliferate in a way we never could have imagined.

The priority will be timber-first instead of sustainability. The amount of forest logged will be determined by industry needs, not by what a forest can sustain.

Ontario's public forests cover an area larger than the state of California.

The existing law was created after four years of public hearings and 70,000 pages of transcripts. The public will be given less input in future logging plans and there will be no requirement for future reviews of policy.

The Wildlands League is asking the public to:

  Call Minister of Environment Chris Stockwell at 416-314-6790

  Contact your MPP

  WEBSITE:  Forests for Tomorrow 

JUNE 3, 2003                                     SECOND IN A SERIES

MNR violates public trust

A reading of a report on logging-road closures leads to one glaring conclusion: MNR has violated the public trust.

The report from the Wildlands League revealed that the infamous Barmac gate on the Red Squirrel Road had enough room under it to drive an ATV through.

The Hangstone gate, which protected the Cross Lake area, was ineffective because MNR allowed an alternative access that detoured around the gate. MNR justified the detour because it pre-existed the gate.

The report pointed out that MNR could not identify where all the road closures were or even how many there were. Some new ones were discovered by the report team while doing field inspections.

Additional closures on the west side of Lake Temagami were not known to MNR or the report's authors and not included in the report.

Without this knowledge there can be no enforcement. Without enforcement there are no road closures (see yesterday's story).

A common defense used by MNR to justify its failure to perform its duty has been the lack of funding and manpower since cutbacks began under the Harris government in 1996. However, the report goes back through 14 years of MNR records, noting failures during an era of fat budgets.

Public motorized access into the area has been a long-standing and bitter controversy, a problem created by logging road expansion. MNR justified continued logging on the basis that access could be controlled by closing roads.

This blatant failure to do so makes a mockery of MNR's public commitments and undermines the credibility of logging.

 REPORT:  The Road Less Travelled?

JUNE 2, 2003                                    FIRST IN A SERIES

Logging road closures a failure, report

The attempt to close logging roads to the public has been a failure, according to a report from the Wildlands League.

Gates were destroyed, locks cut, berms flattened, rock obstructions removed, bridges rebuilt and controls bypassed. 

The report was derived from an audit of MNR enforcement records and independent field inspections on 21 gates and other controls. Half of all inspections, independent and MNR, revealed breaches of the closures.

The gate on the Liskeard Lumber Road that protected the Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park was found open on every inspection. Even if the gate was locked, "there is enough room to drive a truck around it on a new road," said report author Chris Henschel.

"The biggest problem is planning," he said. "You have to place a road where it can be the most effective at restricting access. Put a gate on a bridge over a major river and remove the bridge when the road is closed."

"The prognosis is not good," said Henschel. "Imagine someone willing to go to any length to defeat the restriction."

Is there anything that does work? "Don't build a road."

 REPORT:  The Road Less Travelled?

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