View topic - Ontario MNR closes roads, protects remote values

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PostPosted: September 30th, 2012, 9:07 am 
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Could be remote canoe routes are being protected from roading here, as one of the comments below the report suggests. Most of the reader's comments are for road use, not their closure. Road closure seems to be the least expensive option for MNR since COs have less area to patrol and road maintenance costs are removed.

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MNR closing roads, but should focus on fisheries

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 6:40:37 EDT AM

It's that wonderful time of year again when Ontarians take to the outdoors, with all its colourful splendor and natural beauty. Only to again discover that more bush roads have been closed by the Ministry of Natural Resources with bridges and culverts removed and huge berms blocking roads to keep the locals from accessing our natural heritage. Many of these roads were built at taxpayers' expense with empty government promises that we could use them.

There are two reasons why the MNR wants to keep ordinary citizens from enjoying their lakes and forests. The main one is to "protect remote tourism values" as the MNR so succinctly puts it, which translated means, "vast areas of pristine forests and over 2,000 of the North's best lakes are reserved for paying tourists, and locals had better not drive on these roads to get to these lakes or they will be charged for trespassing".

The second reason has to do with budget cuts to the enforcement branch of the MNR. The understaffed complement of conservation officers therefore has fewer roads and smaller areas to patrol and enforce the law. This is much cheaper than hiring more COs.

While they are keeping locals from enjoying much of our public lands, the MNR has neglected much more serious issues, such as allowing the imminent destruction of the walleye fisheries in our popular Lake Nipissing.

According to knowledgeable conservationists, the main problem with the huge decline in Lake Nipissing walleye stock has been the unregulated commercial gill netting operations on the lake. Instead of tackling this very obvious problem, the MNR has reacted by imposing several restrictions on recreational anglers over the past 15 years, but have done absolutely nothing about the commercial gill netters.

Many northerners had hoped that with the appointment of a northerner as MNR minister, Michael Gravelle from Thunder Bay, this ministry would finally end its two-class public access policies and start listening to responsible outdoors enthusiasts and prominent conservationists, and concentrate on more important issues -- like saving Lake Nipissing walleye fisheries.

But alas, it remains same old, same confused priorities.

Simon R. Guillet Greater Sudbury


http://www.thesudburystar.com/2012/09/2 ... -fisheries

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PostPosted: September 30th, 2012, 9:27 am 
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Were bush roads put there for the enjoyment of tourists riding in cars?
I think not.
Its only appropriate that after the mining or timber operations cease bridges are pulled and roads rocked off at the crossings.

That's the way its done here. No one says you cannot walk.

Is there something that says that blocked roads in Ontario cannot be used by anyone on foot?


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PostPosted: September 30th, 2012, 9:47 am 
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To be fair, he does have a point about footing the bill for the roads as a backdoor subsidy to the resource extraction operations. There was alot of grumbling when the MNR took on the road building that was largely quieted by promises to a populace that values their bush road access.

Promises that have indeed turned out to be empty. Personally I have hard time getting upset over restrictions on ATV abuses.


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PostPosted: September 30th, 2012, 10:18 am 
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"Opinion" letter from a disgruntled local. With a side rant about a festering issue with local fishing.

Nothing new there.

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PostPosted: September 30th, 2012, 10:44 am 
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Ever do a google search for "Simon R. Guillet"?

http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&sugexp=les% ... _qf.&cad=b

http://ontora.ca/kings-and-queens-ontar ... -the-rich/

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PostPosted: September 30th, 2012, 2:57 pm 
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I am for closing road after logging. Wen a lake is hard to access especially if it is small the fishing is way better.So it is for hunting too.Not to many place that you can not access with a canoe.


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2012, 8:49 am 
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Nothing new there.


Barbara, you're right that this is old news, in terms of the roads being closed... after several years this issue is still a sore point with area residents. Some say all politics are local, that sure doesn't apply here.

The readers' comments are interesting since canoeing and remote area protection are mentioned. And some of their comments may describe the situation on the ground more accurately than a carefully worded PC comment from an MNR bureaucrat.

With the government cutbacks going on these days, MNR staff probably wouldn't have the time to reply at all... for now the residents' comments might provide some idea of the reality without actually driving there and seeing for oneself.

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2012, 9:49 am 
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frozentripper wrote:
Quote:
Nothing new there.


Barbara, you're right that this is old news, in terms of the roads being closed... after several years this issue is still a sore point with area residents. Some say all politics are local, that sure doesn't apply here.

The readers' comments are interesting since canoeing and remote area protection are mentioned. And some of their comments may describe the situation on the ground more accurately than a carefully worded PC comment from an MNR bureaucrat.

With the government cutbacks going on these days, MNR staff probably wouldn't have the time to reply at all... for now the residents' comments might provide some idea of the reality without actually driving there and seeing for oneself.


He's quite the man of letters, no?

By "nothing new here", I was commenting on Mr Guillet's history of ranting via letters to editors, etc. I don't recall his concern being much to do with canoeists, tourists, etc.

Barbara wrote:
"Opinion" letter from a disgruntled local. With a side rant about a festering issue with local fishing.

Nothing new there.

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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 8:24 pm 
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These guys want to drive their 4X4 trucks, ATVs, etc. right to the shore of a lake. The signs that I have seen state that: Use of this road to access "X Lake" is prohibited.

What this means that you cannot use the road to get to the identified lake. You can still use the road for berry picking, photography, getting to another lake, firewood cutting, etc. - just don't use it to get to the lake(s) shown on the sign.

You can still get to the identified lake(s) by using traditional means. You can get there by water (paddle/portage, even with a small motor boat); fly-in; and by train.


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PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 6:37 am 
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There is a lot of protest about road closures up here too. There are three main ways of closing roads: ditching, gating and signing. All methods are equally ineffective in their own ways. Ditched roads are easily driven through with ATV's. ATV's can get around gated roads as well. Also, gated roads no longer seem to be locked up here, as local First Nations are allowed down these roads. Signed roads actually keep many people out, but not everyone.

Recently, MNR has taken to using trail cams mounted along these roads, and has been regularly prosecuting people who drive on them. Marshall Lake, north west of Nakina is one example of this. The lake is used heavily by locals and people from down south, as well as the States. Over the last three years there have been numerous prosecutions, even of Outfitters who have cabins on the lake.

Thirty years ago, many of our school canoe routes were complete wilderness. The only road that existed was the one we launched from and the one we ended on. Almost all of our routes are intersected by logging roads now. In fact, in many cases, existing portages between lakes have been wiped out in clear cuts, so we are forced to use logging roads to port on.

I hope they shut down more.


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PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 3:32 pm 
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Wish they would do more of this in Manitoba! Seems to be quite the opposite going on with more and more areas being opened up.

It's been found that the best way to close a road is deep plowing for a long distance from the trail head. I think the article I read said that something in the order of a km was needed for it to be effective.

We should accept that that there are some areas of the planet that will be more or less accessible to some of us and, while I don't think that money should be the deciding factor as to who goes where, I realize that my personal physical limitations mean I will never get to to personally experience some bits of it.

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PostPosted: October 17th, 2012, 9:34 am 
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Here's another instance of opposition to road closures... OFAH's review of amendments to the Algonquin park plan... Sept 14, 2012.

http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=p ... SVu3nJ4kCw

On the first page, "Access Control Measures - The OFAH opposes access control measures placed on forestry roads. The threat of overexploitation of natural resources should not be used as an excuse to restrict access." Sounds like they want to open the park interior roads to drive-in hunters and anglers... access by paddling and portaging must be too slow.

The rest of the review calls for more logging to increase habitat for moose, deer, bear, beaver, and other consumptive-use species. OFAH claims that the protected area additions were not based on scientific evidence, which is false (none of the benefits for old growth are acknowledged). And that natural disturbance is now absent in the park, again false... maybe they believe that blowdowns are being suppressed.

This displays some real shortcomings on the part of OFAH in their understanding, and a step down in their credibility.

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PostPosted: October 18th, 2012, 9:58 am 
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It occurred to me this morning why OFAH wants more logging inside Algonquin... more logging produces more browse for deer, more browse means more deer production and since deer move in and out of the park each year, that means more deer for hunters on the margins of the park.

Algonquin is returning slowly to a more natural moose-dominated ecosystem since forest succession is moving away from poplar and birch dominated landscapes that were producing deer in high numbers during the 50s and 60s. OFAH no doubt wants to see a return to the good old days, welcome to the Algonquin game farm.


They don't seem to be aware that deer transmit fatal brainworm disease to moose in the park... maybe hunting deer and bringing home some meat is all that matters.

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PostPosted: October 18th, 2012, 1:11 pm 
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Restricting access to lakes where remote (i.e., “fly-in”), resource-based tourism establishments are located poses an intriguing dilemma for wilderness canoeists. Before we get to that, let us examine who has the authority to create these restrictions, how these restrictions may be implemented, why such restrictions may be imposed, and finally, the consequences of ignoring such restrictions.

Under authority of Section 52, Subsection (1) of the Public Lands Act, “The district manager of the Ministry [of Natural Resources] in which a road is situate may, in his or her discretion and for any periods that he or she determines, close that road or part of it to travel by the public generally or by any classes of the public.”

Subsection (2) states, “A closing of a road under subsection (1) may be effected by the erection of signs or barricades.” It is interesting to note that “ditches” are not specifically mentioned.

A road may be closed for any number of reasons including:

- to provide public safety during a forest fire or during forestry operations;
- to restrict vehicular traffic on a road where heavy equipment is operating, where construction is underway, where damage such as a washout has occurred to a road, culvert or bridge, or in the aftermath of a severe blowdown;
- to protect fragile natural resources (i.e., vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, etc.) that may be threatened, damaged or depleted beyond a sustainable level;
- to limit unauthorized access to protected places such as provincial parks or conservation reserves;
- to protect a culturally-sensitive area such as a First Nation burial site;
- to protect the remoteness of a resource-based tourism establishment

Subsection (5) states that, ”A person is guilty of an offence if the person,
(a) without lawful authority, travels on a road that has been closed to travel by the person under subsection (1) and has had a reasonable opportunity of knowing that the road has been so closed; or
(b) removes or defaces any barricade, light or notice erected on a road by lawful authority.”

Further, Subsection (6) states that, “A person who, in contravention of subsection (5), travels on a road or removes or defaces any barricade, light or notice erected on a road is liable to the Crown in right of Ontario for any damage or injury occasioned by the wrongful travel, removal or defacement.”

The law is clear! It permits an MNR district manager to "close a road or part of it to travel by the public generally or by any classes of the public.”

The suggestion that one may travel on a road beyond a closure sign to pursue other activities such as “berry picking, photography, getting to another lake, firewood cutting, etc.” doesn’t hold if the road is closed to "the public generally" beyond the point where a sign is posted or a barricade is erected. However, "any classes of the public" could be interpreted to mean those persons who ignore a sign that prohibits travel on a road in order to access a specifically-named tourism lake. In either case, the MNR will charge violators with wrongful travel by disobeying a sign or for any damage or injury caused by the wrongful removal or defacement of such a sign.

So how do road closures affect wilderness paddlers? Consider the following scenario. . .

A forest access road that leads to a tourism lake is posted as closed to travel by the public generally but this same road intersects a recognized canoe route before it reaches the tourism lake, OR, the road is closed to paddlers wishing to access the tourism lake which is an integral part of a recognized canoe route.

Effectively, the road closure prohibits paddlers from gaining access/egress to/from the canoe route. If no other means of getting to/from this canoe route exists, then there is only one legal solution.

Section 52, Subsection (4) of the same Public Lands Act states, “Despite the closure of a road, the district manager may grant a permit for travel on the road subject to the terms and conditions that he or she considers advisable."

Wilderness paddlers who wish to travel on a road that has been closed in order to use a canoe route that is accessible from that road are encouraged to employ this means to legally use the road. Perhaps, in doing so, we might cause the MNR to consider how road closures negatively affect both resident and visitor paddlers whose sole intent is to enjoy our province’s cultural and historical heritage.


Last edited by Voyageur on October 20th, 2012, 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: October 20th, 2012, 6:46 am 
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Absolutely Voyageur! My thoughts exactly.

I'm one such canoeist that depends on some of the logging roads to access rivers. Without them I'd have to look into an expensive fly in which generally I can never afford. I suppose the other option is to extend the trip and paddle/portage to access some of these rivers but that often leads to a trip so long I cannot get enough time off. The one benefit to this logging/mining for me is the roads. If they have been built then might as well use them.

So for me I'm against these road closers. Its hard enough to attract paddlers to our Canadian wilderness, closing these roads will greatly limit who can paddle in these areas therefore public interest in the wilderness in these areas will go down and WHAM another company will sneak in and exploit them some more. Decreasing public activity in the wilderness is NOT the answer to or environmental problems. I cannot think of any fellow paddler I know who (while canoeing or hiking or berrypicking or whatever) has dammed a river, clearcut a forest, or built a mine!

I'm not advocating more logging or mining or damming just to use the roads created but since it already has happened we might as well get some environmental benefit from it and be able to use such roads to access wilderness that otherwise could be next to impossible to enjoy. Not all of us have unlimited time and funds to fly or portage in to access wilderness.

And as far as using a train...I'm all for it when its possible but most of the routes I'm interested in cannot be accessed by train.

This is ridiculous.

IMHO we need to promote our wilderness to the public and spread awareness to it in hopes of preserving it for the future.

Quite simply, use it or LOSE it!

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