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Map: section of Sturgeon River Waterway Park to be removed, 2006

NOVEMBER 20, 2006 

Sturgeon River Park to shrink

The southern-most tip of the Sturgeon River Waterway Park will be removed, a planned addition will be cancelled, and an equal-sized area of land will be added to parkland elsewhere in Temagami.

The Ministry of Natural Resources' decision to eliminate two adjoining protected-areas along the Sturgeon River, totaling 737 hectares, hinged on long-standing mining claims under one: a proposed addition to the park, known as the Sturgeon River Forest Reserve.

The claims existed before its designation as a reserve an interim status for planned protected areas as part of Ontario's Living Legacy Strategy protected-area expansion in 1999.

In fall 2003, a group comprising representatives of Ontario Prospectors Association and Partnership for Public Lands (park advocates) looking at resolving mining and park conflicts from the Legacy expansion, determined the claims were intractable, and advised the Minister of Natural Resources that any protected-area removals should be replaced with the same area of land elsewhere "no net loss."  (The group did not agree to the removal of nearby Wolf Lake Old Growth Forest Reserve.)

The 45-day public comment period on the changes has ended and it is now in MNR's hands to complete the paperwork.

Closing the 628-hectare forest reserve would leave a 109-hectare sliver of the Sturgeon River Park detached from the main body of the park north of it. This isolated tip was regulated last year with the local Legacy lands that were free of mining claims. 

The forest reserve covers a portion of an area known as the Floodwood Forest one of the least-disturbed areas in that cluster of townships most of which is currently protected in the park.

There are no known nationally, provincially, or regionally significant ecosystems or species in the two blocks targeted for de-protection.

This section of the popular river receives far fewer paddlers than farther north.

The forest reserve will be dissolved by an internal change in policy. The park de-regulation will take much longer as it must go to the Ontario's Cabinet for approval.

This is an opportunity for the public to advise MNR on a new 737-hectare area for protection.

 

NOVEMBER 15, 2006                                                                     UPDATED NOV. 16

Forest operator from the south rejects

Temagami takeover

The forest industry continues circling Temagami, more wary than hungry. On Friday, a fourth group rejected taking over management of, and licensing, Temagami's forest.

This time it was Callander-based Nipissing Forest Resource Management (NFRM), the district of Nipissing licensee. Shareholders voted down a deal under negotiation for a number of months with the Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Temagami First Nation, which is a small licensee in Temagami.

Taking over now would have meant jumping straight into the two-and-a-half-year process of preparing the next forest-management plan, which goes into effect in 2009. Work on it would have to start tomorrow.

"The shareholders didn't want us preparing the management plan and merging the unit at the same time," said Peter Street, the general manager.

Still the shareholder rejection caught Street by surprise. The company was so confident in October that it placed a job listing for a Temagami-based forester on Canadian-Forests.com.

The sustainable forestry license (SFL) that had been under negotiation not only confers the right to log, but requires the licensee to do all planning, public consultation, managing, road building and silviculture. MNR steps back and enforces compliance of the plans, and the policies and laws governing forestry.

NFRM's shareholders are R. Fryer Forest Products (Monetville), Goulard Lumber (Sturgeon Falls), Tembec (Mattawa), Hec Clouthier and Sons (Pembroke), and Grant Forest Products (Englehart).

Temagami is one of two remaining forest-management units in Ontario still managed directly by the Ministry of Natural Resources (Cochrane-Moose River is the other, though functioning like an SFL under Tembec management). Since 1995, the province has been passing management and silvicultural activities onto industry through SFL's.

Cascading Rejection

The first SFL rejection came in 1998 from the Temiskaming Forest Alliance the largest SFL operator in the area after a brief consideration, shying away from the high costs of operating in Temagami.

 RELATED STORY:  New logging license elusive

That was followed by years of going-nowhere discussion with a group of tentative partners consisting of the Municipality of Temagami, Temagami First Nation and the timber firms operating in Temagami. The effort, if it ever was, died early this year.

The Temagami First Nation took an interest, hoping like the town, to profit. Once it looked at the numbers and realized it could not make money, or breakeven, it proposed a subsidized SFL. Government cost-saving is an underlying SFL principle, so this notion died still-born.

As one of the smallest units in the province, it was a hard lesson for some players to accept, but it is too small to survive on its own.

After the local efforts played out, the only possible suitor was NFRM.

Best Fit

Ironically the last potential suitor is the most logical fit. Nipissing is a going-concern with expertise and heft almost twice the size of Temagami's annual 255,000-cubic-metre cut that the local hopefuls lacked.

The Temagami area is more similar to the Great Lakes forest of Nipissing where the shelterwood cut is common than to the  boreal forest of Temiskaming where clear-cutting predominates. It makes sense that if Temagami joins an SFL, it is Nipissing.

As one of the first SFL's in Ontario certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Nipissing is a leader in progressive forestry. This international certification sets higher social, aboriginal, forestry, silvicultural and environmental standards than MNR's own forestry guidelines. (Sustainability is the goal, but ecological and social impacts are part of the equation.) Under Nipissing, Temagami could expect better forest management, accountability and protections.

"FSC's are way beyond SFL's," says Amber Ellis of Earthroots.

But it is not a panacea. Ellis points out that it does not stop logging of old growth, but simply assures some will be protected.

Industry has been widely adopting the certification because every board it sells gets the FSC stamp, a requirement for selling into retail giants like Home Depot and Ikea.

Canada's forest industry is faced with fierce competition from the growing, warmer-climate, tree-farm industry and lower-cost foreign producers. FSC certification gives it a marketing edge.

Heaven or Hell

International competition makes cost-cutting a constant and a merger of the two forests would apply pressure to homogenize forest planning between them.

Dave Payne, MNR's district manager, carefully assures that "standards will not be lowered," but when he says standards he does not mean Temagami "specifics," such as the reserve sizes that currently exceed provincial standards.

"Temagami has some of the most stringent buffers in the province," says Bob Olajos, a member of the Local Citizens' Council (LCC), a Temagami advisory group to forest operations. "There will be [cost-cutting] pressure to harmonize the protections. This may mean improving Nipissing's protections, while watering down Temagami's."

 As the forest manager, MNR has been expected to enforce itself. With an SFL in place, it can step back and "act as a regulator at arm's length," says Trevor Hesselink of Wildlands League.

Hesselink urges caution though. "MNR has been slow to do SFL audits and approvals, and this has meant weakened oversight."

Years of drastic budget slashing, leaves the future looking bleak.

Street admits Nipissing has not closed the door. For now management remains with MNR, but as part of its Ontario-wide strategy it is pushing to get Temagami planning off its own shoulders and onto industry's.

This story is not over.

 MAP:  SFLs and management units

  WEBSITE: Nipissing Forest Resource

                  Forest Stewardship Council

NOVEMBER 15, 2006 

Laba elected mayor

Former councilor Ike Laba was elected mayor of Temagami during the November 13 municipal elections, replacing long-time mayor Wayne Adair.

  MAYOR VOTES ELECTED
  Ike Laba 499 X
  George Leger 319  
  Debbie Burrows 297  
  John Guppy 29  
       
  COUNCIL    
  Bill Kitts (I) 618 X
  Peter Healy 600 X
  Claire Smerdon (I) 582 X
  Biff Lowery (I) 553 X
  Barry Graham 548 X
  Wendall Gustavson 545 X
  Ivan Beauchamp 461  
  Margaret Youngs 425  
  Nancy Pedersen 423  
  Rudy Goeree 370  
  Bill Brookfield 326  
  Kelly Prefasi (I) 266  
  Morris Roberston 186  
  Jeff Zuchlinski 181  

                 I = incumbent 

Photo: postcard of Temagami Inn, Temagami Island, c.1907

     Temagami Inn, Temagami Island. c1907

                        RANDOLPH H STEWART COLLECTION

NOVEMBER 9, 2006 

Historical postcard collection

goes online

One of the largest-known collections of historical Temagami postcards is on the Internet at VintagePostcards.org.

The growing collection of the husband-and-wife team of Cathy Harned and Randolph Stewart forms one part of a regional collection that extends to North Bay and Sturgeon Falls.

They live in Kentucky and it started with one card as a homesickness cure for Stewart, a native of North Bay. Harned, an historic preservationist and architectural historian, soon found herself smitten by "postcard-itis."

In less than four years, they have amassed 226 cards of the Temagami area alone. The site also has a one-of-a-kind reference to the photographers.

 

One irony of living in the United States, says Harned, is that cards are more available. American tourists visiting Temagami mailed them home to friends and relatives. Their descendants, for whom Temagami has little meaning, find them in attics and basements and sell them to collectors. Postcards in northern Ontario are difficult to acquire as they are held by family to whom they still have meaning.

"I want the website to be a virtual museum," says Harned, "so anyone on the planet can access it 24/7."

If you are interested in Temagami history, the collection is a must-see.

  WEBSITE:  VintagePostcards.org - Temagami collection

NOVEMBER 3, 2006 

Maple Mountain defacement remains unresolved

There has been no progress reported in the investigation into August's spray-painting on the summit of Maple Mountain, says Park Superintendent John Salo.

The case has been turned over to district conservation officers (COs) and Salo feels "confident it will be successfully resolved" by obtaining restitution from the guilty.

He reiterates there are "really strong leads," but the COs are distracted by hunting season and the need to drive long distances to do interviews with suspects.

As reported in northern media this fall, MNR has severely cut the budget for conservation officers, reducing the number of personnel and eliminating routine patrols, while the workload continues to increase. 

The delay in pursuing such a high-profile, evocative case in a jewel of the park system telegraphs a bad message that jeopardizes the integrity of all parks, and casts poor light on the government's ability to stand up to the challenge.

  RELATED STORIES:

                 Maple Mountain graffiti photo

                 Maple Mountain defaced

                 Authorities investigating Maple Mountain graffiti

                 First Nation upset by defiling of mountain

  BACKGROUND: In-depth Maple Mountain

   

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