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Map: Cooke Lake and Klock (near Mowat's Landing) logging roads, Temagami

OCTOBER 26, 2004

MNR reneges on road ban, group charges

MNR is reneging on a 1995 agreement by permitting Domtar's construction of a new logging road to Maple Mountain, Temiskaming Environmental Action Committee says.

A compromise was struck between MNR, the forest industry, Elk Lake Community Forest, Temiskaming Environmental Action Committee (TEAC) and other forestry and environmental groups on two logging roads entering Temagami from the north.

Provincial groups were invited to the "summit" by MNR as this area was considered provincially significant.

The agreement permitted construction of a logging bridge across the Montreal River at Mowat's Landing (which was built in 1998) in exchange for the abandonment of the


Cooke Lake logging road near the Makobe River (which MNR plans to restore and extend within weeks).

The new road to Maple Mountain, to permit Domtar to log next to two parks, will be an extension of the Cooke Lake Road. Domtar, which operates a sawmill in Elk Lake, is one of Canada's largest forest-products companies.

MNR hired a professional mediator to chair the two-day, June 1995 meeting in Elk Lake that successfully produced the compromise.

"We were deceived," says tourist operator Hap Wilson, who attended the meeting. "What is the point in working with MNR if it operates by subterfuge?"

District Manager Corrinne Nelson of MNR's Kirkland Lake office, which administers this northern portion of Temagami, declined to comment.

"They're bringing back the no-limitation, scorched-earth policy of the 1980s," says Terry Graves of TEAC.

Updated: Oct. 31

BACKGROUND & MAP: Maple Mountain logging

  RELATED STORIES: Mountain logging surprise to many

                               Public comment extended

OCTOBER 25, 2004

Wilderness canoeing symposium set for 2005

The 2005 Wilderness Canoeing Symposium, titled Northern Travels and Northern Perspectives IV, has been announced for February 4 and 5. The annual event in Toronto is one of the premiere gatherings for wilderness canoeists.

 WEBSITE: Wilderness Canoeing Symposium

OCTOBER 18, 2004

Hunt for stories of canoeists in trouble

Author Doug McKown is looking for stories of paddling misadventures.

He's made an appeal to anybody who has one to tell.

McKown is collecting the stories for a second volume of Up the Creek: True Stories of Canoeists in Trouble.

  AUTHOR'S LETTER:  Appeal for stories

OCTOBER 8, 2004

Maple Mountain logging a surprise to many

Many people are wondering how they were blind-sided by the logging coming to the Maple Mountain range, at the intersection of two of Temagami's oldest parks.

Temagami has been carved up by the bureaucrats at the Ministry of Natural Resources into four logging districts. Since a map is worth a 1,000 pictures, have a look at this map a map MNR will never send you.

Each district gets its own five-year logging plan. Only one of those plans has the word Temagami in the title. Maple Mountain is not in the Temagami plan, but the Temiskaming Forest plan.

Recently proposed logging and roads near the south end of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park are in the Sudbury Forest plan.

Of course, MNR helps to keep plan creation below the public's radar. Public notices consist of one-time runs of small, unremarkable ads in a handful of local papers. Mailings only go to those who have expressed an interest.

None of these give you any logging information, just a notice of an open house, or notice that you can go to the MNR office to wade through the hundreds of pages of the proposed plan. A plan that takes years for trained foresters to pull together.

But pulling together informative summaries is not that hard. You can find them here on Ottertooth.com. Speaking of the Web, there isn't even an MNR website where you can retrieve the info, or even the plan, or even a useful summary.

All this works to avoid public interest, despite the fact that the government takes every opportunity after the plans are approved to tell you that there was a "public comment" period, whatever that means, and that it was your opportunity. Oh, did you miss it?

By the way, you don't get to vote on the plan even if you do go to one of the open houses or make a "comment." There is really nothing democratic about it. Decisions are made behind closed doors and rubber-stamped by a so-called citizens' committee, which consists of hand-picked representatives some of whom actually represent industry.

Some of these committee members do a tremendous job looking out for interests other than the forest industry's, but they are conveniently in the minority.

The Temagami plan gets all the public scrutiny and the others, much to the relief of the ministry, are largely ignored. And so, Maple Mountain was overlooked and you were blind-sided.

Not everyone was taken by surprise. Northwatch, one of the most astute northern environment groups, led by Brennain Lloyd, was concerned enough to request an environmental assessment in 2001, but was flatly turned down.

Although assessments should be impartial decisions, they are, in fact, quite partial. Had there been a public outcry at the time, the outcome from Northwatch's request might have been very different. Look at the result from the outcry over the assessment of the Adams Mine landfill proposal.

Of course, public outcries are not restricted by law. They can happen, and have an impact, at any time. It just gets to be a little more work later, but sometimes that can mean the outcry bursts forth with greater intensity.

BACKGROUND & MAP: Maple Mountain logging

  RELATED STORY: Public comment extended

OCTOBER 7, 2004

Moose on the loose

Fall is the time of year when moose are in rut and tend toward open areas, particularly highways. Be wary while driving, especially at dawn and dusk.  

OCTOBER 6, 2004

Vandalized logging bridge re-built

A bridge burned by vandals on the controversial Red Squirrel logging road was rebuilt in September. The bridge over Eagle Creek, near Sandy Inlet, was destroyed by vandals in the fall of 2002.

The destruction had prevented the opening of the Red Squirrel Road extension for logging for the first time since its controversial construction in 1989. In 1989, 344 natives and environmentalists were arrested blockading road construction (see map). 

The loss of the bridge has also blocked the start of logging in the southwestern Muskego Wildlands and in all areas west of Sharp Rock Inlet. Logging companies are expected to start operations this winter.

No charges have been laid for the damage. A series of similar bridge burnings on logging roads in 1996 were never solved. 

The bridge contractor, International Recycling Consultants of Temagami, kept a 24-hour guard on the bridge during the two weeks of construction.

  RELATED STORY: Bridge burned - Oct 28, 2002

OCTOBER 5, 2004

Public comment on Maple Mountain logging extended

The logging and access road into the northern Maple Mountain range  has raised enough public concern that the MNR has extended the public comment period to October 7.

In the highly technical and forbidding world of logging plans on Crown land, Ontario must get public comment on any changes it makes to its plans. The MNR is proposing a change to the route of the logging road and to change logging from winter to summer.

These changes have raised public concern to the fact that logging will enter the northern Maple Mountain range, and will bound two parks: Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness and Makobe-Grays. Maple Mountain is a sacred site to the Temagami First Nation.

Comments: Bill Van Schip at bill.vanschip@mnr.gov.on.ca

                                            or 705-568-3243

BACKGROUND & MAP: Maple Mountain logging

OCTOBER  4, 2004

Amended Official Plan approved by board

The Ontario Municipal Board has approved an amended Official Plan for the Municipality of Temagami with the release of its decision on the recent challenge to the plan. 

The plan had been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board by the Lake Temagami Group, a group of property owners on northern Lake Temagami. The compromise decision between the parties meant making small amendments to the plan and a deferment of some issues to the formulation of a Lot Creation and Development Plan. The deferment also opens the door to the creation of "sub-neighbourhoods."

At the heart of the dispute was whole-lake planning, a concept where the entire lake is treated the same, or as a single neighbourhood. This would mean dispersing new lot creation across the whole lake where permitted by environmental and planning considerations.

The Lake Temagami Group believed this would change the character of the North and Northwest arms of the lake. These areas are less densely developed due to their greater distance from access roads, the smaller number of islands (lots are only permitted on islands, not the mainland), and the lack of telephone and electricity services.

The Hub and Northeast Arm of the lake are closer to the roads, have a greater number of islands, and telephone and electricity, therefore greater density of property development. The majority of property owners are located here. The character of the quieter northern areas is at contrast with these busier central areas.

Virtually all property owners treasure the remoteness of the lake and want less development particularly near them.

As a majority of its members are located in the more densely developed central areas, the Temagami Lakes Association, in proper democratic fashion, supports whole-lake planning.

This diversion in convictions, which has strained relations among the previously unified property owners, led to the creation of the Lake Temagami Group and its appeal of the plan.

The previous plan, created in 1986, permitted much more development than the new plan. If still in force, it would permit today over 300 lots to be created. The new plan permits only five new cottage lots in any year.

The old plan's setback for dwellings of 15 feet from the lake has been increased to 50. Restrictions on buildings along narrow canoe-route channels have been added, as has a prohibition on construction on steep slopes. Consequently, many people felt pressure to see the new plan in force, and the old out, even if five new lots was still higher than they might have wanted.

Until 1996, no new Crown land could be sold as the Temagami First Nation had a land caution a notice of their outstanding land claim in place. It warned that Crown land ownership was in dispute, thereby prohibiting Crown land sales. Despite the flaws in the old plan, there was little pressure to change it, prior to 1996, because the caution was in place.

Once lifted, residents felt the pressure to correct it before the Crown acted. The creation of the larger Municipality of Temagami in 1998 was the catalyst for crafting a new plan.

The plan itself is a very modern, friendly document, readable by those who are subject to it. Its accessibility mocks the typically inaccessible official plan of many other municipalities.

After six years work, plan co-author Jim Hasler said he was "relieved" to see the plan in effect.


  DOCUMENT (PDF):  OMB decision

  BACKGROUND: Official plan coming soon


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