The FOW will participate in the planning process to advocate for the protection and preservation of the diverse natural, cultural and historical resources of the Wabakimi Area.
Vern Fish and Shawn Bell represent the FOW on the Local Citizens Committee (LCC) that provides input to the forest management planning process for Wabadowgang Noopming Forest Management Plan. This is the Crown Land that separates the Wabakimi Provincial Park from the Community of Armstrong, Ontario. This area is over a million acres and it includes the Raymond River, Big River and Collins River canoe routes.
As part of the forest management process a Contingency Plan (CP), a two year plan, is written to provide direction for forest management activities until the ten year plan can be completed in 2023. The FOW submitted comments to Contingency Plan - Stage Three Review of Proposed Operations on November 22, 2020. See previous Conservation post. The CP is followed by a more intensive discussion to result in a 10 year forest plan.
The Plan Author, Jeffery Cameron of NorthWinds Environmental Services, provided a detailed response to our comments and offered to set up a virtual meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry and members of the writing team to answer our questions. This meeting was conducted on January 25, 2021. The following FOW board members participated in this call: Dave McTeague, Randy Trudeau, Ian Curran, Victoria Steeves, Ray Tallent and Vern Fish. MNRF staff included Robin Kuzyk and Steve Young.
The following topics were discussed:
1) Caribou Management
Caribou are an endangered species in Ontario. Their management is guided by the Dynamic Caribou Habitat Schedule (DCHS). For more details on DCHS go to
The CP provides for logging operations in the Dalton Block which is an area between Caribou Lake and the D’Alton Lake. This area is recognized as a calving area for caribou and is also noted for remote tourism values. The Big River canoe route flows through this region. (See Volume 5 of the FOW canoe route booklets). The logging is designed to create more caribou habitat but could have a short term impact on caribou and recreational Areas of Concern (AOC). The FOW have pointed their concern for both impacts. The staff pointed out that these concerns have been taken into account by creating AOC’s which require buffers for the logging operations. The logging will also only be done during the winter months to further reduce the impacts.
2) Placement of Primary Roads
The logging road leading up the Dalton Block is currently scheduled for winter access only and is defined as a secondary road. It has been proposed that this road be upgraded to a primary road which would make it permanent and allow summer use. This decision will be finalized in the Forest Management Plan which is scheduled to be completed in 2023. The FOW noted their concern about the impacts of a permanent road.
3) Crown Land Use Policy Atlas Policy, Report G2616: Caribou Lake / Wabakimi
This policy states that the area around the Dalton Block should be managed primarily for recreational and wildlife purposes. The staff pointed out that this policy does not prevent logging and is only one policy impacting the forest management plan for this area.
4) Road Access for Recreational Canoers
The FOW does not want to break up the wilderness with roads. However, if a road is going to be built for other purposes can this road also be used for canoeing access? The Big Lake Road provides access to the Dalton Block. We would like to see access to the Big River canoe route off of the Big Lake Road if possible.
Road access to Crown Land is covered by other aspects of Ontario law. Thus, this becomes a complicated administrative question for the MNRF to answer. We did not get a definite answer to this question at this time.
5) Canoe Route Maintenance
We asked if we could explore the possibility of working with the MNRF to help maintain canoe routes within the Wabadowgang Noopming Forest. These routes include the Raymond, Big River, Collins River and parts of other routes. The staff recommended that we talk to Emily Hawkins, Resource Operations Supervisor, about work permits and other details.
6) Process for creating consensus on primary roads
A big controversy brewing in the LCC has been the placement of primary roads to provide access to logging units near the border with Wabakimi Provincial Park. The FOW has recommended that a facilitator be used to build a consensus on this issue. This issue will be discussed further at a future LCC meeting.
(for a really deep dive into these forest management issues here's a recent summary!)