FOW engages with Armstrong Forest Planning
Recently FOW President Vern Fish was accepted as our representative to the Armstrong Forest Local Citizen Committee (LCC). Board member and Thunder Bay resident Shawn Bell was accepted as our Alternate. They replace Phil Cotton who was appointed shortly before he passed.
Volume 5 Canoe Routes. There are many canoe routes in the Armstrong Forest which The Wabakimi Project improved and documented in FOW Maps Volume 5 as well as several major points of entry into Wabakimi Provincial Park. Logging and road development in this Crown land forest will impact the area’s habitat and canoe routes.
Vern attended his first meeting on May 27th. This was the LCC’s first online meeting, a change which greatly helps our involvement. The Armstrong Forest is currently revising the next ten-year Forest Management Plan (FMP). Vern reported:
New Logging road. The dominant issue was the location of a road to haul logs out of the northwest corner of the Armstrong Forest. (See the Dalton Road Extension map. The logging company refers to the road as the Dalton Road Extension but the locals refer to it as the Big Lake Road.) Here's the full report in our June newsletter. We'll report further soon our questions to MNRF staff and their responses.
Armstrong Forest Planning Process
Going forward, the Armstrong Forest is going to be managed separately from the current Nipigon Forest unit. At stake is a ten year plus management plan for forest harvesting, associated roads, habitat and wildlife conservation and addressing the needs of the area communities and recreational interests.
The FOW recently responded to the Armstrong Forest Desired Benefit Survey. Protecting historic canoe routes, and essential wildlife and habitat is the essence of our response. We don’t want more roads into the wilderness, but access to canoe routes is desirable if there are developed roads. (FOW Survey Response & Letter)
The Conservation Committee recommended this response after reviewing critical documents, such as:
the “Forest Management Guide for Boreal Landscapes”
the “Stand and Site Guide” for Conserving Biodiversity at the Stand and Site Scales.
Another important guide is the Woodland Caribou Recovery and Conservation Policy: https://www.ontario.ca/page/range-management-policy-support-woodland-caribou-conservation-and-recovery.
See also the recent article by Wabakimi Park biologist Shannon Walshe: http://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/wabakimi-caribou/
Raymond River Route Letter
Recently, we let MNRF know about concerns specific to the Raymond River route (including Hollingsworth, Raymond and Scallop Lakes) in the NW section of Armstrong Forest. This route was mapped and cleared in 2018. A proposed road could impact this route. (View Letter )
Forest Plans and Maps
In the current forest plans there are different maps with lots of detail and maps about tourism (canoe routes, outposts), cultural resources, and forestry operations. There are significant forest harvest management areas in all five forest units to the east, west and south of the provincial park. These can be found by going to ontario.ca/forestplans.
Protecting Crown Land Canoe routes and surrounding habitat was an important reason Phil Cotton started the The Wabakimi Project.
“Wabakimi is quickly becoming an island of wilderness, despite being over 890,000-hectares-huge. Our wanton destruction of the boreal forest for lumber, pulp and minerals is partially to blame. Crown land usage outside of Wabakimi is further confounded by the fact that four separate Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) districts manage the land according to a non-uniform series of regulations. One of my objectives in identifying old canoe routes has been to convince MNR and park managers that the wilderness values of the Crown land outside of Wabakimi’s boundaries should be preserved – for the sake of both canoeists and wildlife. I hope that in making MNR aware that these historic waterways still exist they will be protected and continue to act as corridors to and from Wabakimi’s interior.”
“Uncle” Phil Cotton, as told to Ontario Nature in 2009
Phil’s 2014 treatise on ONTARIO CROWN LAND CANOE ROUTES is essential reading for his deep understanding of the issues facing the unprotected area around the Wabakimi area provincial parks. Phil also made a strong call for linking up with a broad range of public interest organizations to advocate for the Crown Land forests, “There is an urgent need for a single, unified voice to represent recreationalists who value and enjoy the province’s wilderness canoeing opportunities and to speak for the protection and preservation of all existing Crown land canoe routes.”
FOW Conservation Committee
We’ve had several meetings on Sundays at 7:00 p.m. CST, (8:00 p.m. EST), by Skype. If you’re interested in participating or learning more; drop us an email at email@example.com
Ray Tallent is our FOW Conservation Director. (See Ray’s article on Feather Mosses in our Dec. 2019 newsletter).
Other issues we’d like to explore in the future are: