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JANUARY 29, 2004

Jump coming in wildlands logging and roads

Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resource has approved the logging plan for the next five years and it heralds an assault on the wildlands of a magnitude that has not been seen in over a decade. The plan intends to increase logging four-fold over the last decade, re-open abandoned roads and drive new ones into roadless areas.

The wildlands area around Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park, Lady Evelyn Lake and Lake Temagami have been largely untouched since the environmental battles of the 1980s, but a number of factors have left the area vulnerable. Voracious Domtar and Grant Forest Products mills to the north are running out of timber and pushing farther from their mills. MNR wants to complete the transition of  the wildlands into tree farms. And lastly, there is no effective group defending the area as there was in the 1980s.

Highlights

 

Red Squirrel Road extension will be opened to logging for the first time ever
 

Muskego Wildlands, Temagami's largest roadless area, will be carved up with roads and clear-cuts
 

Bob Lake Conservation Reserve will be bisected by the Eye Lake Road (aka Bob Lake Road), setting a province-wide precedent

 

Spirit Forest (see map) will be logged, which will abut the proposed Lake Temagami park
 

Old-growth jack pine will be logged (e.g. around Bluesucker and Temagami lakes)
 

Old-growth white and red pine will be logged (e.g. around Diamond and Turner lakes)

  Map: Wildlands logging 2004-05

The plan covers only the portion of Temagami that falls within the management plan unit (see map), and therefore not all of the Temagami wildlands.

Anyone can request an environmental assessment of the 2004 to 2005 plan until February 16 directly from the Minister of Environment.

JANUARY 28, 2004

Missing Red Squirrel bridge halts logging

The Red Squirrel logging road west of Sandy Inlet remains closed more than a year after a bridge was vandalized. Without the bridge, logging and logging-road construction have not been possible to the west.

This has blocked two controversial logging projects: logging around the Spirit Rock (aka Block 30), and the rebuilding of a road through a conservation reserve.

Liskeard Lumber has been unable to log the area between Sharp Rock Inlet of Lake Temagami and Obabika Lake (blocks 30 and 46 the latter containing old-growth jack pine, and adjoining the proposed Lake Temagami park). Block 30 has been opposed because it will be on native sacred land. The blocks were approved for a management plan that will expire in March. If the logging doesn't take place by then, new approval will be required if the company wants to cut. Any new approval would involve new public scrutiny.

  Map: Spirit Forest logging

 A road is required to access the timber and the Ontario government wants to permit the rebuilding of a long-abandoned road through the Bob Lake Conservation Reserve. Environment group Earthroots challenged the road in court, but lost in September. An appeal is pending.

  Related story: Court allows road through reserve

New logging, for the next five years, has been approved in the southwestern Muskego Wildlands up to the edge of Lady Evelyn Lake, and west of Diamond Lake. This will require bridge reconstruction to access. The logging west of Diamond Lake will require re-opening the Red Squirrel Road extension west of Bob Lake. There were 344 arrests of environmentalists and aboriginals during the famous blockades in 1989. The protesters opposed the construction of the extension and logging in that area. The road extension was never opened to logging.

   Background: Red Squirrel blockades

The Eagle River bridge was burned by vandals in October 2002. No one has been charged. Only traffic on the western section of the road, beyond the bridge, was affected and that area had been closed to the public since the 1980s.

According to MNR, Liskeard Lumber has indicated it may rebuild the bridge this year. The Eagle River is a brook trout stream and protection of the fishery limits construction to the period between June 16 and August 31.

  Background: Bridge burned 

JANUARY 11, 2004

Freeze-up

Freeze-up finally arrives, as seen in this satellite photo.

 SATELLITE IMAGE:  January 11

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