Good morning and Happy Earth Day,
A Call to Action: #savesolace
The Board of Directors of the Friends of Temagami (FOT) would kindly ask for a few minutes of your attention to discuss and delineate a very dire issue that has been brewing for many years. Over the last several months, it has matured to the point of requiring swift and immediate action.
You may recall from my 2017 President’s Report that I spoke to the issue of the proposed Turner Road that would provide access to Vermillion Forest Management (VFM) - more specifically, Gervais Forest Products Ltd. - to enter the Solace Wildlands for harvesting. At that time there had not been any actual new work done, only some existing road maintenance along the access in to Twinkle Lake, where the Turner Road is set to begin. FOT decided that action must be taken to stop the Turner Road and its access to the Solace Wildlands.
In July, 2017, FOT received a request from VFM at the insistence of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MNRF) to lift timing restrictions on the start of the Turner Road construction. Due to many years of this issue remaining dormant it did catch us a bit off guard; yet we acted swiftly and decisively. FOT vehemently opposed the lifting of the timing restrictions, and made that absolutely clear to VFM and the MNRF [Turner Road Construction Timing Response]. Both VFM and the MNRF failed to offer any response or follow up to the request or our opposition to it, however, there was no construction within the timing restriction. FOT Directors, including myself, were up to Twinkle Lake very late last fall to ensure compliance.
Construction on the Turner Road has begun. As of this winter, 1.8 KMs of new road has stripped the forest bare, including many massive old growth white pine!
FOT Director Alex Mathias and myself attended the Desired Forest Benefits Meeting in Sudbury held by VFM and the MNRF on April 11, 2018. The meeting is the very first phase of the Sudbury Forestry Management Plan. Please see the FOT news release concerning the meeting. During that meeting VFM confirmed that construction on the road had begun. 1.8 KMs had been completed, at which point construction was paused to do an archaeological assessment. Director Mathias and myself ventured up to Twinkle Lake to confirm the activity on April 12, 2018.
The construction of the Turner Road to access the Solace Wildlands MUST be stopped! We have come to realize that just providing protection to ‘old growth’ in the Temagami area is simply not enough. Although the protection has been successful in some areas, it doesn’t work in others. The resource companies and the MNRF continue to push for access to old growth despite our efforts and their own policy on old growth. What it has left is small pockets of protected forests, with the areas surrounding logged to the ground.
FOT has moved to a position of protecting large undisturbed areas of landscapes, alongside the desired protection of old growth forests. The Solace Wildlands is one of the last remaining areas of this nature in Temagami. These areas are critical to biodiversity, continuous wildlife corridors, and the protection of our environment. Although we are currently very much involved with three of the four Forestry Management Planning Units, this process has and continues to be mostly ineffective to protecting Temagami’s forests.
It is for these reasons the FOT BOD have decided to launch the #savesolace campaign. We have swiftly organized and planned a strategy that will include a petition, social awareness, political awareness, and holding the MNRF and VFM accountable for their actions... or inactions.
We have a significant maintenance trip to the Solace Wildlands planned in a few weeks, where you will be able to follow along with us via Garmin InReach on our Facebook Page. There will likely be more opportunities for members to join future Solace maintenance trips. You will see much on social media, and we will provide updates to you, our FOT membership, as frequently as is required. We are encouraging FOT members to become involved with #savesolace by supporting us and joining us in our efforts. You will see more from us concerning these opportunities.
I and the entire BOD sincerely thank you for your time, interest, and ongoing support to FOT. We are extremely excited about the #savesolace campaign and we hope that you and many others will be, too! We all look forward to doing this work, and we contend that being successful in protecting the Solace Wildlands and beyond is well within our reach.
The time is now, please join us and #savesolace!
Our petition can be found here.
For more information, check out our new campaign page at friendsoftemagami.org/save-solace.
Please take good care,
The Friends of Temagami