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APRIL 28, 2010

Portelance & Gervais roads report

The west-side access corridor along the Portelance and Gervais road system is quiet, right now. Anyone traveling up that way is not likely to encounter any forestry traffic until the second half of July. And that makes the drive less nerve-wracking and a little safer.

The delay in completion of the Sudbury Forest's management plan halted forestry operations at the end of March, though there is still some hauling of timber cut during the winter, says Doug Maki, a forester at Vermilion Forest Management.

The roads are still open and recreationists and prospectors will be on them. The Fraleck bridge over the Wanapitei River (see the Ishpatina road access map) will be closed by MNR for repairs for much of June. Check with Jessie Leverre of MNR in Sudbury (705-564-7867 or jesse.leverre@ontario.ca) on its status.

The Sturgeon River bridge crossing to be constructed north of Paul Lake may happen this fall as cutting east of the Sturgeon, between Regan and Selkirk lakes, will be in the new forest management plan, headed for approval in July. Gervais Lumber wants to get at that timber this winter.

The bridge, approved in the last plan, will not be open to motorized traffic by the public and will have a gate across it, Maki says. A new road system east of the Sturgeon will cut south immediately past the river off the existing Hamlow Lake Road (aka Portelance Road). The new road will be gated at the existing road as it is not a "traditional" road.

However, traffic will continue east of the Sturgeon by vehicles that ford the shallows in the river just south of the bridge location. Hikers and mountain bikers will be able to use the bridge, including those heading overland to climb Ishpatina.  



APRIL 27, 2010

The Route Less Traveled
By Chris Melanson

Friends of Temagami

I have been considering many of the so-called “lost routes,” the once-used nastawgan, in Temagami for quite a few years now. Somehow a few untrammeled areas have managed to somehow endure, despite the constant pressure of development, access and extractive land-use. It is a particularly rare thing in this day and age, that one may yet take a treasure map and embark upon a mission of high adventure, filled with questions, unknowns about The Land and mysteries of the past. They are one of the region’s great attractions.

Lest anyone construe that The Land is traversed in routes just waiting to arise from 50 or 150 years of growth, be assured that this is not the case. There are yet a few routes though, that with a bit of time and patience, sweat and suffering, may yet be found. It is with some reluctance, and perhaps a bit of selfishness, that I compose this. But it has come to light recently, perhaps in part due to my own actions, that there seems to be a renewed interest in this type of activity. Please do not infer from this writing that I am in any way an expert in the art of way-finding, for this is certainly not the case. In fact, had it not been for the GPS, I might have lost both my canoe and duffle, and probably myself, on some bit trail that was in fact not.

However, in spite of whatever else is lacking, I would like to relay the following notes: This is not a game for those who are planning a typical backcountry-style canoe trip. The route will be very difficult, obscure at best and the way-markers may have long fallen away to age, growth or the boot of industrial man. Camping may be very poor and improvisation will be required and one may have to make do with whatever is at hand. One should also be willing to spend days looking for that trail; trying either end, and if neither reveals the path – be willing to make your way through with gentle respect for The Land. Look closely for those way markers and be wary of “turning-trees,” flag and re-flag as required and go back to remove what is not essential to navigation. Be willing to throw away hours or days, mark softly and walk softly. The trail will be where it needs to be, not where you think it should be or where any map says it is.

The last thing that anybody should want is to see a historic route become trashed, lost to a hastily pushed line, or graphitized in unnecessary blazes and miles of flagging tape. Best to leave it alone, should that be your intent, skill or allotted time available for such a task.

This is not an activity for the brash, the impatient or those interested in “doing the distance.” Nor will there be any glory waiting on the other side. For those plan-makers and bureaucrats that have become somehow entrusted with The Land may very well ignore your efforts, refute the validity and importance of your discovery and dismiss all of your concerns due to an apparent lack of lineage and for their own convenience. However, perhaps all is not lost on this end, for that part of the trail still lies before us…

First published in Friends of Temagami’s spring newsletter    
Photo: Twin Falls, Sturgeon River, April, 2010

 Compare to photo from July 9, 2008.

APRIL 22, 2010

Waters rushing, but not flooding

By Brian Back

Lakes and rivers should be at flood stage, bursting with snow melt. But they aren't.

Word has travelled out of Lake Temagami that the lake may be down as much as two feet. In part, there was too little snow this winter, but Lake Temagami is also controlled by the Cross Lake Dam and that surely has played a big role.

I spent a week on the west side of Temagami and both the Wanapitei and Sturgeon rivers are flowing fast. They are probably close to the level they were at the end of June, 2008, after extremely heavy rains. All the backcountry lakes I saw were full, water lapping at roots or branches of shoreline trees.

How good or bad the water conditions will be this summer is not yet written in granite.

I did see a great blue heron, many ducks, and ravens, but there were not yet any songbirds. Bob Farr tells me geese have been flying in V-formation over Lake Temagami.

On those days when the temperature got above 10 C, there was the odd mosquito, but none were biting. One confused horsefly did pay a visit.

APRIL 1, 2010

Fire bans in North Bay area

This great weather has a downside: fire risk. North Bay and some neighbouring municipalities have reacted with fire bans.

"This is definitely the first time I can recall a fire ban this early in the year," North Bay fire chief Grant Love was quoted in the North Bay Nugget.

Though little known, spring prior to green-up combined with dry leaves is normally a high fire-risk period in the forest. Add to the lack of rain, reduced winter snow, and warm weather and you have a  witch's brew.


APRIL 1, 2010

Domtar sells sawmills cutting Temagami timber

Domtar, one of largest forestry companies operating in Temagami, sold its sawmill in Nairn Centre, west of Sudbury, Domtar Lumber in Elk Lake, and a majority stake in Elk Lake Planing Mill.

Domtar, one of Canada's largest forest-products companies, sold these and its other six money-losing sawmills to much smaller Vancouver-based EACOM Timber Corporation.The penny-stock company (ETR-X) listed on the TSX Venture Exchange did $181 million in sales in 2008.

Nairn was idled for part of the winter. It receives some of a portion of its timber from its Temagami limits, mostly west of the Sturgeon River, and from Gervais Lumber, which operates around the upper Sturgeon River area.

Gervais has been allocated timber in the Solace Wildlands and has been clearcutting up to the west side of the Sturgeon River.

Elk Lake saws jack pine and spruce cut by Domtar Lumber and Liskeard Lumber. Their limits within Temagami are mostly in the northern portion.


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