MNR Road Closures by Charlie Smith


     I have been listening to  the keening lament about The MNR closing roads. I have been hearing it  in the coffee shops and on the radio for some time now, people phone me, (as if  I could do something other than this). I checked on line and found a  plethora of compalints. I read dozens upon dozens on a website of  OntORA before I had scrolled down any more than an inch or two on the  side bar.
     The other group  that is doing the the heavy hauling on this is NOHP, whose principal  No. 3 is “The Northern Ontario Heritage Party supports the formation of a  Northern Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.”
     You know who I can’t find  saying anything about this? The Ontario Federation Of  Anglers and Hunters,  that’s who! Are they happy with access being denied to locals for the promotion  of “Remote Tourism Values”? Or have I just missed them joining the other  organizations and individuals fed up with the MNR prohibiting us from  enjoying our outdoors? Are they perhaps complicit with the closures? Do they  agree that “The ability to charge two-and-a-half to three times more for a  similar experience that a person would have when they can drive to a location,”  is more important than we residents having access.
     When we hunted moose  last year, we stopped in Armstrong on the way out. We were talking  to the other gangs in the restaurant. Among all of us we  had only one moose. There was a fairly smug looking outfitter in the  restaurant with us. “Why didn’t you fly in?” he asked.
     “It costs too damn much!”  I said, “I priced it, and it’s double if you get a moose and have to get it  flown out.”
     “What did you pay for  those?” he nodded at some quads loaded on a trailer outside the window. They  weren’t ours.
      I explained  that our trucks were the ones with the canoes and that we had given up on trying  to drive on the roads that had been artificially closed so that he and  the people like him could charge parties thousands of dollars to hunt in areas  they should be able to drive to, if only the MNR left us  alone.
    I have a few questions that I  feel need answering. Are the outfitters and/or their clients ever using these  roads? How about the Natives – can they use the closed roads? Are the only  people being locked out of vast areas of our Northern Ontario bush you and I?  And if we are, does that make us second class citizens or perhaps third class  citizens? Apparently the MNR is busy changing the  business agreement they have with NOTO and they want to give the outfitters 30  year renewable land use permits. Thirty years! How does this sit with you? How  did it happen that a few mostly foreign owned businesses filling their pockets  got to be more important than us filling our freezers? Why is the MNR running around putting signs up at almost every  boat launch that we are not supposed to camp there? Heaven forbid that we locals  should be able to sleep right beside the lake. It’s bad enough we can drive in  and launch our boats! I guess the only thing wrong with Northern Ontario is  us…
     Now don’t get me wrong, I  am a canoer, have been all my life, and even though I am in my sixties, I still  canoe way in hunting and fishing, so I like to see wilderness areas left.  However there is something Kafkaesque about canoing in for a day or two only to  pass under a new bridge attached at both ends to a perfectly good road that we  can not use!
     I do not want to see roads  everywhere. I am opposed to roads. I am agin them! But once some logger has  bulldozed his way in, cut the bush down and the area has been planted to a  monocuture pine plantation, then it’s NOT a wilderness area anymore. Once this  has happened then I don’t think anybody should be making any rules that say I  can’t use that road.
     Am I making myself clear?  Maybe not…
     My objection to these  roads is that though we are no longer allowed to drive in with our trucks,  quads, sleds or even horse drawn carts, the tourist operators are  still able to fly in rich Yankee tourists to catch the fish and shoot the  moose that we can’t get tags for. And you know it all smacks of  elitism!
     We want access to the  fish, game and berries in our back yards and we don’t want it sold to outfitters  or outsiders.
     How can you pretend you  are in a wilderness area when there is a road within a mile everywhere? But they  still want to continue this charade while they fly in fat cats to hunt the game  we are not supposed to access. They pretend that their airplanes are somehow a  more traditional form of transportation than even horse drawn vehicles when  everyone knows we have been driving on roads a lot longer than we have been  flying airplanes. The only places we ever bothered to fly in was where there  were no roads. Once there was a road there we used it. If we can’t drive  in, then they shouldn’t be able to fly in either. If it is supposed to be a  wilderness area, make it canoe or walk in only area, accessible to anyone  willing to work. Let’s see how the “Remote Outfitters” like that!
     Something has to be done  about this. If you want to continue to be able to drive on the roads you have  always used, you better raise your voice now. Write your MPP, (Mike Mantha in our case,  ), talk  to the press, whine vigorously, join organizations willing  to fight. If you don’t, don’t bother crying about it to me, (you won’t  be able to find me anyway as I will be way in some lake in my canoe and you  won’t be able to drive there.)
Charlie Smith

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Adam August 16, 2012, 4:59 am

    Well said Charlie. Thank you for taking the time to write about these important issues. Anyone know what the fine is for hunting crown land roads paid for by our tax dollars?

  • michael boudreau August 21, 2012, 8:32 am

    We will know the latest amount of fine,since we received an email from a fisherman who was charged on July 22 and did not send his ‘not quilty” plea within 15 days. We are awaiting his response shortly. This happened in the Gogama area which is the Timmins district.

    • Gord Pedersen August 21, 2012, 2:27 pm

      The big issue here is the absence of the OFAH. I have never been a proponent of this federation. I believe Ontora should sever all ties with this federation . I personaly think all Northern Ontario sportsmen should send letters to OFAH sponsors ex:Winchester Olin corp,Yamaha Canada etc. Explain thoroughly how this federation has ignored us Northern Ontario sportsmen via their policies and their symbiotic relationship with our Mnr. We are consumers of their products and our letters will not go unanswered. Threaten to apply SANCTIONS if they continue to sponsor these WOLVES IN SHEEPS CLOTHING.

  • opeth September 11, 2012, 6:31 am

    Very well said, I know Armstrong very well after many culverts were pulled out i just stopped going there. For the price what local outfitters are charging I can have successful hunt in Belarus for instance. Closer to home Bark Lake and promoted air access only another joke .Occasionally I come across those flown in and I answer their question how did you get in ? I drove in I say. That makes them “happy” asking outfitter to deliver what had been advertised.