The Solace Wildlands contain some of the last roadless, virgin forest in all of Temagami.
The Wildlands form an important link route between Sturgeon River Provincial Park to the west, Solace Provincial Park and Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park to the north, and the Pinetorch Conservation Reserve and Obabika River Provincial Park to the east.
Despite its value as an intact forest and its popularity as a link for summer camps and wilderness canoe trippers, Vermillion Forest Management has been granted approval to begin construction of a primary logging road right through the heart of the Solace Wildlands. The Turner Road proposal was approved after a bridge across the Sturgeon River was denied three times. This road would cross numerous portages and campsites and the proposal includes a bridge right above Talking Falls on the Yorston River.
The Friends of Temagami strongly oppose the Turner Road. We believe the Solace Wildlands should remain intact and free of industry. This area is a prime candidate for further environmental protections in Temagami.
Please sign this petition to help the Friends of Temagami (FOT) stop construction of the Turner Road into the Solace Wildlands, Temagami's last remaining tract of roadless, virgin forest!
The Friends of Temagami encourage and support greater protection for the Solace Wildlands as part of a larger strategy to create a more unified network of existing conservation reserves and provincial parks within the Temagami area. The Turner Road will destroy a wild, undisturbed forest, erasing campsites and portages in use for thousands of years .
The Solace Wildlands
The Solace Wildlands is a roadless, virgin Crown Land forest area of approximately 100 square kilometres . It is located between established provincial parks and conservation reserves: Sturgeon River Provincial Park to the west, Solace Provincial Park and Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park to the north, and the Pinetorch Conservation Reserve to the east. Its lakes and rivers form a unique, remote route between these protected areas and are frequently used by summer youth camps and backcountry canoe trippers. Its canoe routes are well-documented on Craig MacDonald’s Nastawgan Map, The Friends of Temagami Adventure Planning Map, Jeff’s Temagami Maps, Ottertooth.com’s canoe route maps and in Hap Wilson’s Temagami: A Wilderness Paradise guidebook. Campsites and portages throughout the region are signed and maintained by Friends of Temagami volunteers.
The Turner Road
The Turner Road was approved as an alternate access for forestry in the Solace Wildlands area after a proposed bridge over the Sturgeon River Provincial Park was denied three times by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).
There are currently no approved cut blocks in the Solace Wildlands area. Vermilion Forest Management (VFM) seeks to build this primary logging road to gain access to areas they have not yet been granted license to cut.
The Turner Road would eliminate the intact forest status ahead of proposed changes to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards. Mark Lockhart, General Manager of NFRM Inc./VFM Ltd. has stated through email correspondence with FOT that VFM “will be proposing areas in the 2020-2030 FMP for harvest, renewal and tending that will utilize this currently approved route to complete these activities.There are currently no regular allocations approved in this area in the 2010-2020 FMP.”
Any road construction ahead of the 2020-2030 forest management plan is a deliberate attempt to erode FSC intact forest status prior to Forest Management Planning (FMP) consultations, increasing the likelihood of harvesting within the Solace Wildlands. There should be no action taken prior to the FMP consultation process.
Why It Matters
The Turner Road corridor fails to recognize established campsites and portages. It closely follows existing canoe routes and includes nine water crossings. Most of these water crossings would impact existing campsites and portages, yet are not marked on the map as Areas of Concern (AOC) despite being published in multiple sources. These water crossings impact wildlife habitat and cold-water fisheries.
One extremely problematic crossing is located on a portage right above Talking Falls. Talking Falls, on the Yorston River, is a popular destination for canoe-trippers travelling between provincial parks. It is wild and remote, and recreationalists must spend days travelling to reach it. A primary logging road and bridge crossing at this location would destroy the beauty and solitude of this special place.
Water crossings would also impact other link routes on the Yorston River, the Ames Creek, the Pilgrim Creek and Solace Creek. These creek routes are frequently used to connect Temagami’s provincial parks. The planned bridges on these creeks are placed at active portages. Crossings on the Pilgrim Creek have been placed over established campsites. Preferred harvest areas include the shorelines of lakes and rivers on active canoe routes, with inadequate or missing buffer zones. Old growth forest designation has not been awarded, even though this area has been left untouched for millennia and shows all the hallmarks of being an old growth forest.
What’s Happened So Far
Vermilion Forest Management requested to begin construction of the Turner Road as early as July, 2017, lasting a period of three summers. This directly violated current timing restrictions outlined in the Temagami Land Use Plan (TLU) and Canoe Route Enhanced Management Areas (CRE). Timing restrictions prohibit harvesting and construction between June 15 and Labour Day (TLU) and between May 1 and Thanksgiving weekend (CRE) in order to preserve recreational travel routes throughout the canoeing season. Any amendment to these timing restrictions in regards to road construction will negatively affect this wilderness travel corridor. FOT opposed and was successful in delaying construction until winter 2018.
Construction of the Turner Road has already begun. As of April 2018, VFM has built two kilometres of new road extending from the existing Twinkle Lake logging road, leaving piles of cut Eastern White Pine in its wake. The path of this new road will soon cross the Ames Creek, destroying access to the Pinetorch Conservation Reserve from Twinkle Lake. From there, the road will follow the canoe route between Pinetorch and the Yorston River, cross at Talking Falls, cross the Pilgrim Creek and Solace Creek and head south parallel to the Sturgeon River.
We strongly object to the proposed route of the Turner Road. Markers WX 103, WX 104, WX 391, WX 392, WX 395, WX 396 and WX 397 as indicated on the map are of special concern . Marker WX 392 is located at Talking Falls, an established campsite and portage on the Yorston River. Markers WX 396 and WX 397 are located on Solace Creek, a tributary of the Pilgrim Creek, which is the most remote creek route remaining in the Temagami region and a significant link between Sturgeon River Provincial Park to the south and Solace Provincial Park to the north. Markers WX 103 and WX 104 on the Ames Creek between Twinkle and Linger Lakes would eliminate access to the Pinetorch Conservation Reserve from the Twinkle Lake Road. Water crossings in these areas would irreparably damage these established, intact wilderness routes, erasing traditional portages that have been in use for hundreds if not thousands of years by the Teme-Augama Anishnaabe .
The Solace Wildlands are a prime candidate for inclusion into existing parks and conservation reserves. The forest is untouched and would unify Temagami’s protected areas. Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park, established in 1983, is only one-quarter of the area originally proposed as a wilderness park . By connecting protected areas through the Wildlands, wilderness travel corridors and a robust network of parks would be preserved.
The Solace Wildlands are part of the Yorston River/Selkirk Creek Crown Land Policy Enhanced Management Area . The Crown Land Use Policy for area E353r states intended land use is to “manage for park-related values with emphasis on ecosystem integrity, backcountry recreation, remote tourism, and recreation.” The document also states that “additional objectives include applying viewscape protection to Solace Waterway Park and Sturgeon River Waterway Park, applying seasonal restrictions on resource extraction and minimizing road crossings of parks and canoe routes, maintaining the existing canoe routes and retaining the potential for new routes while also preventing roads within 350-meters of park boundaries,” all of which will be violated by the construction of the Turner Road. The MNRF is failing to comply with its own land use designations by approving the Turner Road.
The Turner Road would destroy existing canoe routes, portages and campsites and fragment the last roadless, virgin forest in the Temagami area. Road construction in the Solace Wildlands is unnecessary and premature and shows an egregious disregard for recreational canoeists and youth summer campers who frequent these wilderness corridors to link established provincial parks in the Temagami region. Any economic benefits created through the destruction of virgin forest are completely outweighed by the value of leaving the Solace Wildlands and its canoe routes intact for recreation, tourism and wildlife.
The Friends of Temagami request that the Solace Wildlands be protected from logging, road construction and development in order to preserve an important wildlife and cultural heritage corridor between Temagami’s protected areas.
Please sign and share this petition to protect Temagami’s last roadless stand and help create a Solace Wildlands Corridor Provincial Park.