Road Access and Recreational Fishing Research

BY LEN HUNT, RESEARCH SCIENTIST, CENTRE FOR NORTHERN FOREST ECOSYSTEM RESEARCH, MNR

Road access is among the most contentious resource management issues. Tourist operators and road-based recreationists are frequently in conflict over the types of uses that planners and managers should permit on logging roads in close proximity to tourist establishments.However, little if any economic or social information exists about the potential benefits and costs of road access to recreationists, tourist operators and others.

“The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources began a research program on road access issues in part to provide some information about the benefits and costs of road access. One project has examined the benefits and costs to resident anglers from the Thunder Bay and Wawa areas resulting from the creation, maintenance and removal of logging roads.”

This project compares the attributes present at sites heavily versus rarely used by anglers to learn about the importance of attributes to anglers. For example, if resident anglers take 80% of their fishing trips to walleye lakes and only 40% of lakes hold walleye,the presence of walleye in a lake is important to many anglers.One may form a model of angling behaviours by using a theory that describes the ways that people make decisions with the information about the importance of different attributes to anglers.

The model provides a flexible tool for forecasting the likely effects of resource management decisions on where anglers fish and what value anglers derive from fishing. For example, one may use the model to assess the benefits that arise to resident anglers: from providing road access to remote lakes; from increasing the interconnections among logging roads; and from maintaining existing logging roads.By balancing the benefits to anglers of such management actions with costs (e.g., the cost to tourist operators of having road access established on lakes with tourism establishments),- one can conduct some basic cost and benefit analysis of potential management decisions. All individuals who are involved in decision-making processes could benefit from this information.

We thank NOTO for their willingness to partner on the above research. We also appreciate the financial and in-kind contributions from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Living Legacy Trust,Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Northwestern Ontario Sportsmen’s Alliance, and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Finally, new research is being developed on the road access issue. This research will provide: (i) an assessment of the effectiveness of operational tools (e.g.,water crossing removal) and controls (e.g.,signs) at limiting motorized vehicle access to water bodies; and (ii) an understanding of the views that northern Ontario residents have towards road access management. We thank NOTO for its expressed interest to partner on this research and hope that NOTO and their members are able to contribute on this research.

For more information about these research projects or to learn more about the social science research program with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, you can contact me at (807) 343-4007 or len.hunt@mnr@gov.on.ca.


This article was taken from page 6 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Winter 2005 Issue

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