MNRF Plan for Wabadowgang Noopming Forest (W.N.) provides Bleak Prospects for Woodland Caribou
Summary of Public Comments - NEW
(Paddlers! Have you seen woodland caribou or signs, in SE Wabakimi P.P., Tamarack Lake, Lookout River & Boiling Sands Rive;, Crown land routes- Collins, Fawn, Doe, Tunnel Lake, Rushbay, Vale Creek, D’Alton, Caribou and Little Caribou, Linklater, Raymond River, Big Lake, Big River, Pawshowconks etc. We have do citizen monitoring! We need photographs, video and anecdotal evidence of caribou in these areas. Please let us know! Send to firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Friends of Wabakimi participated in this 10 year forest planning process administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) as detailed on our Conservation Page. The Wabadowgang Noopming Forest (W.N.) is immediately adjacent to Wabakimi Provincial Park; just north and SE of Armstrong, Ontario. It was split off the larger Nipigon Forest and has operated under a two-year contingency plan since.
MNRF has now issued their near final determinations. (See their determination here) This is after FOW participated in the Dec. 6th in-person Issues Resolution Meeting with MNRF staff and many other interested parties.
We achieved some modest goals: 1) A primary logging road was rerouted to lessen the long-term impact on the D’Alton Lake area, currently subject to ongoing harvest. 2) Small increases in buffers around known canoe routes. 3) Made known to MNRF and all parties that there’s a growing constituency that supports canoe routes and essential habitat protection.
But the overall end result promotes forest harvest activities and road building into virgin forest with little regard for the long-term impacts on woodland caribou.
One distressing feature of the MNRF’s decision is the lack of any established monitoring. Referring to the area SE of Tamarack Lake, the decision says, “As there is no known and verified caribou values present in this area at this time there is no area of concern prescription applied for caribou in this location of the forest.” How would they know? No monitoring has been done in recent history. Essentially, MNRF is flying blind when it comes to the long-term impact on essential woodland caribou habitat. They’ve made it clear it may be up to us to provide knowledge of caribou presence.
The FOW Board reviewed these issues at their last meeting and determined, after some strenuous discussion, to support Bruce Hyer and other advocates in efforts to question and potentially challenge this plan insofar as the plan is not sustainable for caribou, park values, ecological values, general recreation, and remote tourism. That could entail being a “Friend of the Court” for an injunction proceeding or filing a petition under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
Regardless, FOW has strived to build good relations with local communities, First Nations, and land managers such as the MNRF. We will continue to do that in the hope that better understandings and collaborative solutions are possible.
What else can we do now or in the future??
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