OntORA: Januray 2009 Newsletter

OntORA MEMBER CLEARED OF SIX OF SEVEN M.N.R. CHARGES:

Outdoors people usually have a high regard for MNR Conservation Officers (C.O.’s) and staff who generally maintain a high degree of professionalism and work hard under tight budget restraints.  The case of new member Danny Hein is difficult to understand.

Danny is from New Liskeard but was hunting near Armstrong in 2007.  Danny says he was given an area map by an MNR employee who told him that he could drive past an open gate on Lee Lake Road to hunt on Crown land where hunting was allowed.  Danny, who was with his wife and another couple, was quickly met by a C.O. who charged all four under Sec. 10 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, (FWCA) even though there were no signs erected at the gate under the FWCA.  Danny’s group was told that they had trespassed past the gate that was erected “to protect remote tourism values“.  However, Danny says there are no remote tourist outfitters on this road. Danny’s group was all also later charged under the Public Lands Act Sec. 28(2), a total of seven charges.

Danny is a top tournament angler who is very successful, has won several top prizes in Ontario & Quebec and is sponsored by a popular marine company. Danny was told that the marine company had already been officially notified, apparently by the tournament competitor who gave him the map, of MNR charges against him.  It appeared to Danny that he was being set up to effectively remove him as a competitor from tournament angling.  Danny’s lawyer at first wanted him to plead guilty, but Danny wanted to fight the unjust charges, especially when he learned that his hunting privileges could be revoked for two years, causing him to lose his lucrative competitive angling sponsorship.

The court case in Thunder Bay was attended by eleven Conservation Officers and heard before a Justice of the Peace, who threw out all the FWCA charges and denied the MNR’s request to revoke Danny’s hunting privileges. Charges against his companions were also dismissed.  However, the J.P. found Danny guilty of “disobeying a sign” and said that driving a vehicle could be counted as a “use” of Crown land, even on a public road.  OntORA Sr. V.P. Tom Brason, who worked closely with Danny’s lawyer in mounting a defense, says that Sec. 28 PLA does not apply to roads; that driving a vehicle cannot constitute a “use” of public lands so the J.P. may have erred in his decision.  OntORA and Danny are considering appealing the case and are obtaining legal advice.

WHAT IS THE LATEST ON THE MOOSE ROUND TABLE TALKS?

Some members have been trying to find out where & when the proposed “moose round table talks” for the public are taking place. The internet links supplied by the government apparently haven’t yielded any information and calls to MNR head office have not yet been returned.  We will let you know as soon as we obtain any information.

ARE BLUEBERRY PICKERS BEING TARGETTED?

The Magpie River Terraces Conservation Area near Wawa is a unique geological site and an area where earlier mining activity has left the land scarred with sulphur burns and acidic soil.  But, it also contains outstanding blueberry patches. Because of the condition of the land and vegetation, ATV’s are required to stay on trails, except for direct retrieval of game. Our members in the area understand that and have complied while picking a bumper crop of blueberries to make a little extra cash.

Last September, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) added a new sign to the many signs already posted.  The new sign warned berry pickers that their hard work to earn a few extra dollars was no longer legal.  “Blueberry picking is for personal use only”.  The only problem is that the MNR document #C1520 on the Magpie Terraces prepared by MNR’s Tom Kenerknecht, the same person who posted the “personal use only” sign, states in Section 5.6 Commercial Use: “The commercial harvesting of Canada Yew (taxus canadensis) and other vegetation will not be permitted. The exception to this prohibition however, will be handpicked blueberries. The area is a productive and popular blueberry picking area and some pickers, including children, will sell to third parties. Since it would be extremely difficult to enforce a restriction, and since hand picking is not destructive to the plants, hand picking for commercial sale will be permitted. (Emphasis added)

So what’s going on?  Why are our members told not to pick blueberries for selling when it is clearly permitted by MNR policy?  And why was there no “public consultation process” or other legal avenues pursued if the policy was changed abruptly. Why are innocent, law-abiding, hard-working blueberry pickers trying to supplement their modest incomes being harassed?

OntORA’s Senior V.P. Tom Brason, V.P. Mike Boudreau and Director Dino Tarini are looking into the situation and have fired off a letter to the MNR looking for answers.  Stay tuned.

WILL PRIVATE MANAGED WILD GAME FARMS BE ALLOWED?

Wawa area’s top-rated family-owned Kaby & Pine Portage Lodges, which boast a private landing strip and golf course, and market their “remote” experience, are negotiating with a forestry company “to have the rights to manage the moose and bears within the private lands (81 sq. miles) of Derry Township”. While the Lodges are on private property, 75% of Kaby Lake is surrounded by Crown land, but since it’s designated as a “remote” lake, there is no public access.  When David Ramsay was MNR Minister, he stopped private captive game farms. Will the current Ontario government now permit a managed wild game farm on private land for paying guests?

OntORA DISTRICT DIRECTORS AT YOUR SERVICE:

The Northern Ontario Resource Alliance (NORA) took on a new identity at its November 1st Annual Meeting when it officially partnered with the United Steelworkers Union in Ontario and then merged with the Citizens Committee for Equal Access to Crown Lands.  The new stronger organization is now called the Ontario Outdoors Recreational Alliance (OntORA).  Simon R. Guillet was elected President, Tom Brason as Sr. V.P., Mike Boudreau as V.P. and Carol Brason as Secretary-Treasurer. Also, District Directors were elected to represent various areas with more Director appointments in store as we spread out across the province.  The District Directors are setting up committees in their respective areas to concentrate on local public access and conservation issues, organize membership drives, and liaise with various outdoors clubs, associations and corporations.  If you wish to get involved in this rewarding effort, contact:

District 2 Director – Andre Blanchard bandit@astrocom-on.com (807)854-2100 (MNR Districts of Thunder Bay & Nipigon)

District 3 Director – Dino Tarini Tarini@onlink.net (807)822-2109 (MNR District of Wawa)

District 4 Director – Glen Lillie glillie@shaw.ca (705) (Randy Sullivan is on leave) (MNR District of Sault Ste. Marie)

District 6 Director – John Berardi- johnberardi@hcplasalle.com Cell (705)691-0311, (705)522-3361 (MNR District of Sudbury)

District 7 Director – Edgar Labelle edgarclabelle@hotmail.com (705)758-6262 (MNR District of North Bay and Kirkland Lake)

And don’t forget to visit our blog often, & check the ads. http://crownland.org/blog/

MANITOUWADGE ACTIVISTS JOIN OntORA:

Frank Reiser of Manitouwadge and a newly formed committee have had it up to here with some of the access and conservation issues in their area.  Among their concerns: the many road closures and MNR removing culverts and building burms on unused haul roads to prevent access; the fair allocation and distribution of moose tags; deer hunting areas; the MNR setting up “no access zones” around outfitter lakes:  the number of outfitters compared to the numerous lakes closed to the public and other access issues.  The executive and District 3 Director Dino Tarini will work closely with Frank and his group.  If this is your area, contact Frank freiser@shaw.ca .

A TIP OF THE HAT AND A HEARTFELT THANK YOU TO:

As OntORA grows and spreads out across the Province, we have numerous people and organizations to thank for their support, encouragement and financial assistance:  Here are a few for this month:

The United Steelworkers Union (USW) Ontario and Director Wayne Fraser.

Tym Barker for his excellent work on our Crownland Blog.

Les Piccolo for contributing his great outdoors photos for our new membership cards.

The Chelmsford Fish and Game Association for their generous donation and support.

The Sturgeon Falls Rod & Gun Club for their support and Affiliate Membership.

The Bristol Motel & the Bristol Off-Roading Outfitters, Mission Rd., Wawa (705)856-2385 info@bristolmotel.com , www.bristolmotel.com for their corporate affiliation & support.

Permanent Electric Sault Inc. – “For all your electrical needs”- for their support and corporate affiliation –   (705)949-7977  –  Support the people who support us.

Have you renewed your 2009 membership?

OntORA has grown considerably and continues to grow.  Plans are afoot to launch a major membership drive in the spring.  We do not yet have full time staff to look after individual membership reminders, so memberships are on a calendar year basis.  The membership fee is very reasonable, as you will see on the attached membership form.

We are fighting on your behalf to leave a legacy to our children and future generations of an Ontario with pristine forests, abundant lakes and unspoiled beauty which will be as accessible to the general public as it is now to paying tourists.

Preferred hunting and fishing grounds for the upper class may have been acceptable for the Kings and Lords of medieval times, but in modern day Ontario, this antiquated elitism has to go! Join us in our battle to obtain the same rights that paying tourists have in our province.

If you haven’t joined yet, or have yet to renew your membership for 2009, please do it now.

We need you, and if you value your freedom of public access, you need OntORA!

THE ONTARIO OUTDOORS RECREATIONAL ALLIANCE (OntORA)

Membership Application

Mail to:

Ontario Outdoors Recreational Alliance,

35 Amber St.,

Sault Ste. Marie, ON  P6A 6N6

Yes, I want to become a member of the Ontario Outdoors Recreational Alliance

(United Steelworkers Union Ontario Partner) and add my support to the fight for lawful and equal public access to Ontario Crown lands and lakes.

Name: (please print)————————————————————————

Address:—————————————————————————————

City:——————————————-                       Postal Code—————–

E-mail Address——————————————–Phone #————————–

Mail with cheque or money order to:

Ontario Outdoors Recreational Alliance

35 Amber St.

Sault Ste. Marie On. P6A 6N6

Membership Fees:

1YR 2 Yr 3Yr Amt Paid

Individual————— $ 10 per year——-         ____   ____  ___  _______

Family——————- $ 15 per year…….         _____  ____ ____ _______

Additional Family Members _________________________________

_________________________________

_________________________________

Corporate……………..$ 100.00 (minimum) per year

Lifetime Individual—–$350.00   Donation $——————-

Director District #                                                                     Total Paid___________

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