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MARCH 29, 2007

Warm weather restricts ice travel

Since March 21 the temperature has soared above freezing during the day, peaking at 8 C, melting most of the snow, and leaving the ice treacherous for travel.

  SATELLITE IMAGE:   March 28 

Banner: Changing of the Seasons ceremony

 Obabika Lake access & maps


Alex Mathias

Spirit Rock

MARCH 23, 2007

Fall's Seasons Ceremony set for September 15

The seventh annual Nishnabai ceremony to celebrate the changing of the seasons will be held September 14 to 16 on Obabika Lake.

The Changing of the Seasons ceremony has been growing in popularity since launched seven years ago by Nishnabai elder Alex Mathias. Mathias is the last


Temagami First Nation member still living on his family's traditional territory.

The unique, non-commercial, remote event is held on a campground on Obabika in the spiritual shadow of Spirit Rock. It is open to aboriginals and non-aboriginals of all ages.

There will be traditional ceremonies, Ojibway stories, dancing, drumming, a traditional feast and hiking in the old-growth forest. The ceremonies emphasize the traditional importance of the forest.

Previous participants recalled the inclusiveness of the ceremonies and the closeness that developed among participants.

Participants camp for the weekend at campsites at the north end of Obabika Lake with most arriving in canoes by early Saturday morning. 

  GATHERING PHOTOS:   2002   2004   2005  2006

MARCH 20, 2007

Conservation groups mull over merger

The greater sum of the whole has three backcountry conservation groups — Friends of Temagami, Nastawgan Network, Friends of Chiniguchi — talking merger.

"As three separate organizations," wrote Bob Olajos in the Nastawgan Network newsletter, "only one with legal standing, we are limited in what we can individually accomplish. This merger represents the possibility that collectively we can become greater than the sum of our individual parts..."

Friends of Temagami, founded in 1995 by Temagami-area residents, is incorporated and has the longest track record. It has run various advocacy campaigns and, with MNR funding, it operated a portage-and-campsite maintenance program from 1995 to 2001. In 1998, it won a lawsuit against MNR, forcing it to rewrite two local forest-management plans. It has faced declining volunteer participation since 2000.

Nastawgan Network, the most active and best organized of the groups, was founded early last year by Chris Melanson, Alex Broadbent, Ed MacPherson, Paul Tamburro, Bob Olajos, and William Ball. It has the strongest volunteer base and a big presence on the Internet. It is the lead watchdog in the park-and-rec (TIP) planning and has rehabilitated two nastawgan routes.

Friends of Chiniguchi was founded in November 2005 by Sudbury resident Mike McIntosh. Its focus is "Western Temagami" between the Wanapitei and Sturgeon rivers. This fall it rehabilitated the Carafel Creek canoe route and is advocating protection of the Wolf Lake old-growth forest. It has a small volunteer base and extensive knowledge of Temagami West.

"It just seems to make sense," wrote Mike McIntosh in an email to Ottertooth. "We're all focused on the same goals. We would be given a louder voice, with a larger membership to address Temagami issues."

 WEBSITE:  Nastawgan Network

                   Friends of Chiniguchi 

MARCH 17, 2007

Stewardship Council gets funding ultimatum from MNR

MNR informed Temagami's citizen-run fish and water-resources group that funding will be withdrawn for failure to meet the criteria of a ministry land-stewardship program, after little more than a year's membership, if it does not make immediate changes.

In a March 1 letter, Bob Aubin of MNR's district office wrote that  Temagami Stewardship Council (TSC) needed to expand its volunteer base, community relationships, and funding, and move beyond its fishery focus.

He pointed out that its bylaws were too restrictive for membership in the Ontario Stewardship Program as they prevented achievement of these goals. Ironically, these were the bylaws of the group in the fall of 2005 when MNR approved its admission to the program.

The TSC is an independent research and public education group devoted to the fishery and health of Lake Temagami and Cross Lake. It began as The Temagami Fisheries Advisory Board in 1995, adopting Temagami Stewardship Council as its name in 2002. The council does not operate the fish hatchery located on Temagami Bay, but supports it.

Since 1999, the group has conducted or supported studies of lake trout, walleye, whitefish, herring, invading species, spawning areas, ice-hut abundance and water quality, and worked on changes to fishing regulations.

TSC will lose a $10,000 annual grant and a part-time ministry-paid staffer if it does not make the changes.

Chair Gaye Smith refused to meet with the local office to discuss the ultimatum, and has requested a meeting with the minister.

A Match Made in Hell

Temagami Stewardship Council was the first northern Ontario group to join the program that is geared toward landowners and private land. Why admit a Temagami group, where the land is virtually all Crown, especially one with a 10-year track record in the public lakes?

MNR knew the nature of TSC when admitted to the program. Shouldn't it stick to its commitment?

TSC, for its part, was a successful independent. Did it sell its soul for the lure of the loonie?

 WEBSITE:  Temagami Stewardship Council

                    Ontario Stewardship Program

Map: portages and logging around Breeze, Black, Paul, Rabbit, Reuben, Louise and Twin lakes.

MARCH 12, 2007

Endangered portages protected

Conservationists, loggers, cottagers, and the Ontario government have cooperated to protect one of Temagami's most endangered canoe routes, the Breeze Lake route.


Most endangered canoe routes 2006

For almost a year, Nastawgan Network has been pressing for the protection from logging of seven portages linking Rabbit, Reuben and Upper Twin lakes. The decision was made in the field during a January 25 meeting.


The ministry had been aware of the trails since the 1990s, however, it did not protect them in the current harvesting plans. Road building began in early January and reached the Reuben-Paul portage by the meeting..

Due to topographical constraints, the road parallels the portage for roughly 300 metres. In the agreement, the portage will be rerouted slightly, allowing the road to cross at a 90-degree angle. A fork in the

Photo: Reuben Lake, Temagami

Reuben Lake                            BOB OLAJOS

road, which had been planned right on top of the portage, will be moved further east. A road that would have crossed the Paul Lake to Black Lake portage will not be built. Logging north of this portage has been cancelled.

Goulard gave up revenue to make the agreement. “The people at Goulard Lumber have been very receptive, very reasonable,” Bob Olajos of Nastawgan Network said.

All this comes at a time when the MNR’s preliminary Crown-land recreation plan calls for diverting heavy canoeist traffic onto underused


routes. The MNR and Temagami’s Local Citizen’s Committee are discussing Area of Concern prescriptions, including portages, for the next plan, the 2009-2019 Forest Management Plan.

With canoeist user days expected to rise in the next 20 years, routes like this one are intended to absorb that increase. This has the concept of “recreation capital” gaining momentum. Just as trees in the ground mean security for the forest industry, buffers around portages and lakes ensure the future growth of the canoeing industry.

 “We’re hoping to sit down with the MNR and the forest industry to talk about other unrecognized portages,” said Olajos. “Obviously, canoeists want to see all portages protected, not just those that currently see heavy use.”

  Related story: Endangered canoe route rehabilitated

Photo: graffiti on Maple Mountain summit, 2006                                                                                                                                                                  JOHN BURNS / MNR


MARCH 1, 2007                                                                  

Four convicted of Maple Mountain graffiti

Four Ontario women have been convicted of defacing the historic and sacred site on the summit of Maple Mountain in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park.

Natalie Smith, 24, and her sister Sarah Smith, 25, both of Cobalt, along with cousins Paula Smith, 33, of Timmins, and her sister Dawn Smith, 32, of Georgetown, pleaded guilty to defacing a natural object with spray paint within a provincial park. They were each fined $250 and must reimburse Ontario Parks $1,450 for the cost of site restoration. The court also put each woman on probation for one year, and banned them from entering Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park for one year.

The Haileybury court was told that on August 3, 2006, the four women climbed the remote mountain to honour the memory of the recently deceased mother of two, and aunt of the others. They spray-painted about 40 square metres of exposed rock with four neon colours and added their names. An altar, plastic flowers, a garden sculpture of butterflies and a small wooden cross were left amongst the names. A large rock in the middle of the trail, about halfway up, had "MOM" sprayed on it.

A canoeist spoke to the women and tipped off the Ministry of Natural Resources. Park wardens went to the site to investigate and cover the graffiti. Conservation officers laid charges after a lengthy investigation led by Mike Schenk.

Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park is an internationally acclaimed wilderness park. The summit of Maple Mountain is one of the most popular backcountry destinations and a sacred site to the Temagami First Nation.

Justice of the Peace Michael Kitlar heard the case in the Ontario Court of Justice, City of Temiskaming Shores, on February 22, 2007.

MNR reminds the public that laws regulating activity within a provincial park or on Crown land are intended to protect the ecological integrity and natural beauty of the province and ensure that areas are available for the public to enjoy.

With the recent imposition of camping fees and proposed new rules on park travel, it was important for Ontario Parks to get a conviction that would demonstrate it could protect the park.

This is the second successful conviction within recent months for law-breaking inside the park. Both resulted from canoeists' tips.


                   Authorities investigating Maple Mountain graffiti

                 First Nation upset by defiling of mountain

                 Maple Mountain graffiti partially concealed

                 Maple Mountain defacement remains unresolved

                 Canoeist's tip nabs gate crasher

                 How to report backcountry crimes

  BACKGROUND: In-depth Maple Mountain


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