Temagami Mining Controversy – Letter to Hon. Michael Gravelle Ministry of Natural Resources

December 15, 2011

Hon. Michael Gravelle Ministry of Natural Resources,
Suite 6630, 6th Floor, Whitney Block
99 Wellesley Street West,
Toronto ON M7A 1W3
Fax: 416-325-5316

Re: Wolf Lake EBR Registry Number: 010-7775

Dear Hon. Michael Gravelle,

I am writing on behalf of the Association of Youth Camps on the Temagami Lakes (AYCTL) to express our strong opposition to the proposal to remove the forest reserve status from parts of the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve. Mining in this area will negatively affect our ability to run canoe trips in the region and destruction of the old growth forests permanently eliminates a landscape vital to our economic health.

Forest reserve status is intended to make the area a park-in-waiting, with existing mining claims and leases being automatically designated as parks as soon as they lapse.

Wolf Lake, located along the Chiniguchi waterway in the southwestern region of Temagami, is home to the largest old-growth red pine forest in the world. Wolf Lake contains the core of 1,600 hectares of red pine with trees over 260 years old. This diverse ecosystem has thrived for centuries providing important habitat for wildlife and has now become a haven for hikers and canoeists. The towering pines found at Wolf Lake are part of an endangered ecosystem that is estimated to persist on only 1.2% of its former extent.

Removing the forest reserve status from part of the Wolf Lake region to encourage mining investment is a dangerous step to take in the “management” of this irreplaceable ecological gem. Under the proposed “general use” designation the old-growth forest would no longer be managed with protection of natural heritage and special landscapes as the priority, but rather with resource extraction as the primary goal.

The proposal would continue to allow damaging mining exploration activities, which could result in an operational mine, in the heart of this old-growth forest. Even commercial logging may be considered in Wolf Lake’s old growth when it is required for advanced mineral exploration activities. Also, logging and mining exploration will be allowed in the southern Matagamasi Lake portion of the forest reserve.

The proposal takes this unique area further away from regulation as a permanently protected area – a designation that is long overdue. In doing so it leaves irreplaceable ecosystems and prime canoe routes in peril from industry and badly managed recreation.

The Wolf Lake old-growth forest, including substantial buffer zones on all sides, should be fully and permanently protected – under no circumstances should industrial activities be allowed to proceed in Canada’s largest old-growth red pine forest. Breaking up this landscape in a patchwork of land-use designations threatens to degrade its ecological and recreational value. This area should be permanently protected as part of a continuous corridor that includes the entire Wolf Lake Forest Reserve, all of Chiniguchi Lake, and the associated red and white pine forests. I will be watching this issue closely and plan to take further action if this misguided proposal proceeds as is. I hope to count on the Ministry of Natural Resources to do the right thing, as do all the camps I represent.

Eoin Wood and Bruce Ingersoll