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Wolf Lake - Respond to the issue
Sunday, 03 July 2011 15:31
wolflakeWolf Lake – Chiniguchi area - Land Management Disentanglement
EBR Registry Number:   010-7775  Click Here.

The issue in a nutshell

The Forest Reserve land use designation that protects Wolf Lake is proposed to be dropped where it coincides with mineral exploration leases, but not where it coincides with mineral exploration claims.  The Forest Reserve for south Matagamasi Lake where the land issue is all mining claim, is proposed to be removed.
Reasonably equivalent features in a land replacement area of 2195.7 ha will be added to the Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park. Commercial forestry and commercial aggregate extraction will not be permitted within the mining lease area.

Background

Under Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy (1999) forest reserves were created where potential protected areas coincided with pre-existing mineral exploration tenure such as mining claims and leases. Forest reserves recognize these exploration and mine development rights, but other industrial uses (forestry, commercial aggregates) are not permitted. The intention was that forest reserves would become individual or additions to provincial parks or conservation reserves if the tenure lapsed through normal processes. The forest reserve designation would remain as long as the mining claim or lease was in good standing.

Comment with your concern


This proposal has been posted for a 47 day public review and comment period starting June 01, 2011. If you have any questions, or would like to submit your comments, please do so by July 18, 2011 to:

Scott Dingwall, 
District Planner
Ministry of Natural Resources
Regional Operations Division Northeast Region
Sudbury District
3767 69 Highway South Suite 5
Sudbury Ontario

Additionally, you may submit your comments on-line from the link above.


FOT’s take on the matter

FOT is concerned to read on the Environmental Registry that the proposal intends to remove Wolf Lake and south Matagamasi as a Forest Reserve from the waterway park by reclassifying it as a General Use or Enhanced Management Area.  We have been concerned with the Wolf Lake disentanglement process since being made aware of the issue in 2007. 

Since that time we submitted a joint Application for Review on January 8th, 2008 with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) that requested that the Minister of Natural Resources undertake to regulate the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve (F175) as a protected area under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act 2006 (PPCRA).  Following this Application for Review, we were invited to attend a stakeholder’s meeting on May 6th, 2008 at MNR offices in Sudbury.  FOT has now submitted our continuing concerns to MNR and are described below.

Our goal for this area and for all of the Temagami backcountry has always been to preserve the natural environmental and wilderness recreational values for future generations.  The Wolf Lake Forest Reserve’s international significance as the largest contiguous Old Growth Red Pine Forest – arguably in the world – dictates that the Province must do everything in its power to minimize the threat of mining and development and to regulate it as a protected area.

Upon reviewing the proposed major amendment to this area, we have expressed to the MNR the following comments:

  • As stated in the EBR description, the Ontario Living Legacy Land Use Strategy (1999), created forest reserves where there was conflict with existing mineral explorations claims and leases and potential protected areas. So it must have been accepted that the leases would be included from the start of the Living Legacy process.
  • A number of the Wolf Lake claims/leases have fallen in and out of good standing over the years. (The claim history information is available on the MNDMF Mining website) Many of the claims have been extended such that claims filed in 1980 are still in effect now in 2011, a total of 31 years. FOT senses some of the mining claims do not appear to be lapsing in the normal manner.  After 31 years of exploration effort, nothing of value has been found on the Wolf Lake claims.  The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forests (MNDMF) has told us that the area has mineral potential.  This appears to be based solely on the quantity of exploration activity and not on any mineral findings and confirming studies.
  • If MNR removes the Forest Reserve designations from Wolf and Matagamasi Lakes, it would be extremely difficult to complete the Chiniguchi Waterway Park, when these claims finally lapse.
  • We are pleased with the proposed amendment to keep the Forest Reserve designation for the mining claims within that portion of F175 in Mackelcan Township, and to include these claims into the Chiniguchi Waterway Park in the event that the claims should lapse.
  • Due to the area’s unique ecological characteristics, FOT strongly opposes removal of any protection of the Wolf Lake Old Growth Forest Reserve or in the south Matagamasi Lake area, which is covered by the current mining leases.  The fact that the Wolf Lake Old Growth Forest is ecologically unique makes it simply irreplaceable.  In addition, due to the area’s rugged beauty, the Wolf Lake and the Matagamasi Lake areas have become popular camping, hiking, and canoeing destinations and are already showing signs of overuse, also contributing to the area’s environmental degradation.  The removal of the current Forest Reserve designation on these areas with a change to a ‘General Use’ or ‘Enhanced Management’ area is sure to complicate any future plans and necessary regulation of the addition of these areas to the Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park. .
  • FOT appreciates the proposal that would convert the East side of Chiniguchi Lake from Forest Reserve to Park status, but question why the entire lake is not being proposed for park status.
  • FOT would like to encourage the Government of Ontario to protect this world-class eco-tourism destination and to maintain status quo on current Forest Reserve designation, until such time as the mining claims and leases lapse, and can be added to the Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park.
  • Image courtesy of www.earthroots.org