Yesterday, it looked like one of the “prettiest, most accessible canoe trips in Sudbury” could be at stake.
Today, the province announced that it is backing away from a proposal to reduce protection in the heart of the Wolf Lake Old Growth Forest Reserve to encourage mineral exploration.
The reason? The province said the Environmental Registry posting soliciting for feedback on the proposal was flooded with nearly 300 comments urging the government to reaffirm the area's protected status.
The Friends of Temagami today said that although the protected status remains in place, to protect the old growth forest fully, the Ontario government must take an additional step.
“We want to congratulate Minister (of Natural Resources Michael) Gravelle and Premier (Dalton) McGuinty for making the right decision,” said Bob Olajos of the Friends of Temagami, speaking on behalf of the Wolf Lake Coalition. “This is good news, but our job isn’t done. Wolf Lake still needs to be added to the Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park.”
To keep the fight in the spotlight, on March 15, Beth Mairs and the BAM North crew are putting on an evening to raise support in the community to keep the area pristine. The evening will include a screening of the BAM North production Does This Canoe Make Me Look Fat?, as well as a video created by Laurentian University Outdoor Adventure Leadership students.
Located in the Chiniguchi park and river system, near Kukagami, the lake is surrounded by what many believe to be the world's largest continuous span of old growth red pine.
“Anyone who has travelled there by canoe seems altered by it,” Mairs said. “It's not just a pretty lake — it seems to have a mystical presence. That's why a paddler's perspective on Wolf Lake is a good one to bring people together.
“Aside from its potential value for minerals, for lumber or for eco-tourism, its inherent value as a magical place, sheltering world-renowned and now rare species of forest, should be the core consideration in permanently protecting it.”
In February, 26 conservation organizations and businesses joined forces to form the Wolf Lake Coalition, calling on the government to include Wolf Lake as part of the Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park.
Science North biologist Franco Mariotti will also be on hand to discuss why the area should be considered a national treasure.
“The Wolf Lake pine stand is a cultural jewel that connects today’s generation to the very resources that created Sudbury in the past,” Mariotti, a member of both the City of Greater Sudbury’s Green Space Advisory Panel and the Wolf Lake Coalition, said last month. “To not protect the Wolf Lake old growth site is to deny future generations of this truly unique natural asset.”
In its submission to the Environmental Registry, Earthroots argued that red pine forests once covered much of eastern North America, including what is now downtown Sudbury. These ancient forests remain on only 1.2 per cent of their original extent, making them a critically endangered ecosystem.
Earthroots wrote that the Wolf Lake stand is the largest remaining example of this ecosystem — more than triple the size of the next largest remnant.
“We know of nothing like it that exists anywhere else,” Olajos said. “What we have at Wolf Lake cannot be replicated elsewhere.”
There's more to it than the historical and cultural significance though. Jim Little, who co-ordinates the outdoor adventure program at Laurentian, said the area has lots to offer.
“I just love the clear water, vibrant colours, and amazing campsites of this area,” he stated. “Don't cut it, don't mine it, don't touch it — (instead) travel lightly on the land and it will treat us right in time.”
The evening gets underway at 7 p.m. at Rainbow Cinemas. Tickets can be purchased for $10, with $5 going directly to the Save Wolf Lake Coalition. Tickets can be purchased at the door or picked up in advance at the Outside Store and Laurier's Country Store in Nairn.
For more information, phone 705-866-2077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Arron Pickard