Did You Know?

This post is intended to show OntOra members what your Exectutive , Directors and Area Reps have been doing {past and present}. Some correspondance you will see goes back to 2007. You will also find many historic facts that are very interesting. Some of the correspondance will be past News releases, MNR ,Clubs, Conservation , and Political letters or views.
This post will be published every 2-4 weeks and should prove to be both interesting and informative.Your feedback and comments will be appreciated.

 

Well done : Simon

Guest Article – Sudbury Star – Reply to MNR District Manager Ed Tear

A recent letter to the editor by Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) District Manager Ed Tear seeks to “clarify” the issue of public roads closures by the MNR in this district.  It must be noted that he failed to mention that in his own MNR’s Annual Report on Forest Management 2005/06 just recently released (2006 Annual Report in 2008?) the figures tell a much different story Ontario-wide.  (Data obtained from Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters –OFAH)

According to the MNR Annual Report, there is close to a 300% increase of road closures in Ontario from 1996 to 2005.  In that same 10 year period, total kilometers (km) of roads closed by the MNR increased from 2,239 km to a whopping 7,568 km. In the same period, a total of 6,731 km of public roads were abandoned.  More roads continue to be abandoned than constructed and now there is a net loss of almost 6,000 km fewer publicly accessible forest access roads in 2005 than in 1996.

Mr. Tear also neglected to mention that in his Sudbury District, the North shore Forest FMP 26 has 1104 km of roads listed with 234.7 km (21.3%) of access restrictions, and in the Spanish River Forest FMP 26, there are 1313 km of roads listed of which 344 km (26.2%) have some sort of access restrictions.

That is a little different from what Mr. Tear describes as “access roads on Crown land are generally open to the public, (but) from time to time the MNR deems it necessary to restrict access……to protect wildlife……..the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem…..support sectors of resource based tourism industry.”

If indeed the closure of thousands of our best lakes (1,400 lakes in 1997) and thousands of square kilometers of pristine public land are being closed to the ordinary citizen for those venerable reasons, then why are thousands upon thousands of paying tourists at remote lodges allowed to hunt and fish there.  One family-owned lodge alone in the Wawa area accommodates up to 2,500 paying angling and hunting tourists per year – multiply that by the thousands of remote lodges in Ontario and it’s hard to imagine just how “wildlife is protected and the ecosystem is maintained”.  Rather, it may be safe to assume that the main reason for all these government sponsored private game and fish farms masquerading as “wildlife and ecosystem protectors” is the profitability of the remote tourist lodges.  Let me quickly add that there is no argument against tourist lodges making a good profit.  But they should not do it at the expense of the rights of ordinary citizens to access their public lands. They are free to operate and make money, but we also have a right to access the lakes and public land that out-of-province tourists have unlimited access to.  It’s called equal access.

If land areas or lakes really need to be closed for bona-fide conservation or ecosystem reasons, then they should be closed to all anglers and hunters – not closed to ordinary citizens and kept open only for the paying hunting and fishing tourists.

Mr. Tear also invited the public to provide their views and recommendations on access issues through the forest management process, which seems like a civilized, proper forum for doing so.  Unfortunately however, members of the public who participated in such exercises, including the 2006 Venetian Lake public consultation and the 2006 LaCloche Ridge Conservation Reserve Plan, report being very disillusioned with the process.  Near Venetian Lake, the MNR had proposed restricting access on new roads northwest of Sudbury, an area of approximately 300,000 hectares (730,000 acres).  The public submitted 106 comments on the restriction proposal, the vast majority of which were against the MNR’s proposal.  Nevertheless, the MNR approved the restrictions.  The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, under the Freedom of Information Act, obtained copies of these 106 comments and found that, contrary to the MNR’s rationale for the closures, the access restrictions were primarily at the request of a private cottagers association.  As a footnote, this road network closed to the public will be funded by the $75 Million public roads fund, taxpayers’ money that Premier McGuinty promised would also be for the enjoyment of the public at large.

At the 2006 LaCloche Ridge Conservation Reserve hearing, also in Mr. Tear’s District, the MNR did not honour their prior assurances that “every attempt will be made to ensure that public access to the reserve is maintained and/or improved”.  The MNR broke these promises by terminating ATV use in most of the reserve and prematurely ended the public consultation process, the public being upset because they had been promised that their access to the area would continue.  As often happens, MNR decisions were rationalized to meet a predetermined agenda.   Public input is a wise and democratic process, but only when the overwhelming majority opinions of the public are listened to.  Exercises in futility or “window dressing” consultations do not instill confidence in the MNR’s “public consultation process”.

In fairness, the MNR, with its restricted budget and lack of staff, does a commendable job in other areas and they deserve our thanks and support for their fine work.  However, on the issue of “public consultation” there often appears to be a predetermined MNR agenda.  On the issue of equal access to Crown lands, they enforce a flawed, unfair and discriminatory government policy that is alienating many Ontario anglers, hunters, trappers, hikers, canoeists, and nature lovers.  The Province of Quebec at one time had private game and fish farms.  They wisely abolished that policy years ago.  What is Ontario waiting for?

Simon R. Guillet

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Charlie Smith August 27, 2012, 2:02 pm

    Great article!

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