I have just returned from 5 open houses in the Wawa district for the CLUAH land use planning process. Most of you will have seen the information notices we sent out to the industry over the past couple of weeks about these open houses. I attended all five of the sessions, and NOTO working group members Bob Garson of Garson’s Fly-In Outposts and Al Errington of Errington’s Wilderness Islands attended several. Betty McGie of Pine Portage Lodge also attended several of the open houses, as did a number of other operators from the area.
As I have reported many times before, this initiative is extremely important, since it could very well provide the template for land use planning in other districts. Despite all of the difficulties we have experienced with this process, land use planning is the answer to most of our problems relating to forest roads and loss of remoteness.
The open houses were information sessions (though lots of people voiced their comments loudly) and the real comments must be made to the Environmental Registry (preferred method) or to MNR Wawa staff. It is essential that our industry and our guests make clear, well thought out comments in writing. We need to demonstrate to government why maintaining remoteness is essential, and how land use planning is the best tool to provide certainty and stability to both forestry and tourism.
Four “options” were presented at the open houses. Option A was developed by the pro-access faction and would seriously erode tourism protection. It proposes no new remote zones, and the reduction of buffers around tourism lakes from 3 to as little as 1 kilometer. Furthermore, they propose to make those protections effective only during June, July and August, with absolutely no restrictions during the other months. Government needs to hear from you why this will not work.
The other three options create new Remote Access Enhanced Management Areas, but differ in details on how new and existing roads can be used. Only option D makes the area “functionally roadless” and therefore represents a significant change. All of the details can be found in the policy reports that accompany the maps on the ER posting.
It is worth noting that the minister is not required to choose a single option. She may combine elements of several options, implement something completely different, or do nothing. For us, land use planning remains a priority and we will need to keep this initiative moving forward.
This is not just a Wawa district concern. This project can become a template for use elsewhere, so any operator with concerns about managing for remoteness needs to read the material and comment. Anybody who wants more information should call me or talk to Bob (705-253-4938) or Al (705-884-2215). As local working group members, Bob and Al are much more familiar with the maps, details etc. My involvement on the steering committee has been more high level and conceptual, but I am getting pretty familiar with the details after five open houses.
Because our industry has discussed and thought about these issues for a long time, we are well positioned to present a large number of well thought out comments for the Environmental Registry. Please urge all of the operators you know to get involved.
The relevant links on the environmental registry are:
Phase lll Map – Option A (17MB)
Phase lll Map – Options B, C, & D (11MB)
Phase lll Options Summary
It is these items that I urge you to read carefully and comment on in detail. Which elements make sense and which do not? How will this affect the future of your business? Which approaches have struck an appropriate balance between the needs of our industry and the needs of local recreational communities?
Here is the link to the Environmental Registry to see more information:
Environmental Registry Posting #PB06E2025
You will find the link to submit your comments on the right hand side of the page.
T: 705-472-5552 x23