View topic - Ontario MNR closes roads, protects remote values

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PostPosted: October 20th, 2012, 7:39 am 
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I have obtained permission to travel on restricted roads before, but it is always in regards to working on canoe routes for my high school club. I'm not sure they would grant me the same favour if I was an individual, in fact, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't.

It's a double edged sword. One of the areas I travelled this summer was protected at the bottom end due to outfitter concerns. I was able to get permission to use the roads. The trip we are working on would certainly be easier to promote for use if that road was open to the public. However, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be as nice of a trip if the road was open. It is prime fishing country, and it would be full of fisher people all summer, along with the trash dumps, moose camps in the fall, and a variety of other crap piles.

I've stated this before...our club had ten 14 day routes, most of them without any road incursions. All of those routes now have many instances of roads crossing them, and for many of them, we now have to use the roads as portages. That's not my idea of a trip. If the roads are ditched or blocked, particularly if they are secondary logging roads, they will grow back in fairly quickly. The area that we use is an enormous chunk of land, and I'm pretty sure we would be hard pressed to run a 10 day trip and not cross a road at some point.


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PostPosted: October 20th, 2012, 8:25 am 
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Rob you hit the nail on the head...

Quote:
...it wouldn't be as nice of a trip if the road was open. It is prime fishing country, and it would be full of fisher people all summer, along with the trash dumps, moose camps in the fall, and a variety of other crap piles.


Opening a road for one interest group, canoe trippers, sets a precedent for policy... if one interest group is allowed their access on forest roads, then why not another? And then another, and another, and another, down the slippery slope to the situation you describe above.

I'm sure MNR managers are well aware of this and will take a conservative option towards protecting landscape if that option exists, especially during times when money for enforcement is low. The benefits of road closures are backed with scientific research showing that road access will deplete fisheries resources if access is easy.

I don't agree with "use it or lose it" in this case... land managers who are on the side of protecting wilderness will say that roading is the thing that results in lost wilderness values. If you don't care about wilderness, build roads into a landscape that previously had none, allow easy access, and the wilderness will disappear.

In the states there are efforts being made to eliminate roads from some areas in order to restore wilderness. Deroading an area takes political will, and there is enough there to make restoration possible. In Ontario, there's probably less, but the land managers' option to close roads is at least a move towards greater protection.

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PostPosted: October 20th, 2012, 11:12 am 
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As founder and lead organizer of The Wabakimi Project, I have been deeply involved in promoting public awareness of the need to preserve and protect the traditional and historical canoe routes in the Wabakimi area.

Canoe routes in the boreal forest are subject to natural disturbances such as forest fires and blowdowns and require regular maintenance in order that they continue to be usable. To this end, I have often touted the expression, “Use it or lose it!” to encourage paddlers to help keep these canoe routes open by using them. My adoption of this expression was never meant to be directed towards unrestricted use of forest access roads nor should it be construed to mean that I support such a policy.

In my earlier posting to this thread, I attempted to offer an explanation of how road closures affect paddlers’ abilities to access recognized canoe routes. It is important to note that, in my explanation, I neither supported nor condemned road closures implemented for any of the reasons I put forward. In point of fact, I support such closures and only wish there was a way these travel restrictions could be imposed without inhibiting access to recognized canoe routes.


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PostPosted: October 20th, 2012, 1:15 pm 
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Phil, your "use it or lose it" idea is perfect for a sort of semi-solution to obtaining access to these roads.... It harkens back to the idea of a group of people adopting canoe routes for maintenance and protection. I'm not sure how MNR would view this on Crown Land routes, but if a group was set up properly, with the a focus to keeping a series of routes viable, I'm sure MNR would allow access. That's how it works for the High School Club. We don't have free access, we still have to fill out the proper paperwork, etc, but we haven't been told "No" yet. This use with a purpose could eventually be expanded to include many people. For instance, there could be a few "work parties" using a route every summer.


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PostPosted: October 20th, 2012, 2:40 pm 
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. . . if a group was set up properly, with a focus to keeping a series of routes viable, I'm sure MNR would allow access.
Rob: Thanks for putting forward an idea that I’ve been mulling over for the past few years. It’s been a regular topic of conversation around the campfire amongst volunteers of The Wabakimi Project during our reconnaissance expeditions.

Your proposal of “a group of people adopting one or more canoe routes for maintenance and protection” is something participants of The Wabakimi Project have predicted will be needed once mapping of the canoe routes in the Wabakimi area is complete. Such groups already exist in several areas of the province and their respective stewardship programs are living testaments of their members’ dedication to the spirit of volunteerism.


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PostPosted: October 20th, 2012, 6:07 pm 
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Frozentripper wrote:
Quote:
Opening a road for one interest group, canoe trippers, sets a precedent for policy... if one interest group is allowed their access on forest roads, then why not another? And then another, and another, and another, down the slippery slope to the situation you describe above.


So how come some closed forest access roads are open in the Fall until the late Winter for snowmobile traffic but closed the rest of the year to all other vehicular traffic?


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PostPosted: October 20th, 2012, 7:36 pm 
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Quote:
Frozentripper wrote:
Quote:
Opening a road for one interest group, canoe trippers, sets a precedent for policy... if one interest group is allowed their access on forest roads, then why not another? And then another, and another, and another, down the slippery slope to the situation you describe above.


So how come some closed forest access roads are open in the Fall until the late Winter for snowmobile traffic but closed the rest of the year to all other vehicular traffic?


The MNR district offices will be able to fill you in... I'm working on memorizing all the land use policy guidelines for each district in Ontario, as well as the existing and proposed plans for the 600-plus protected areas scattered throughout. If MNR isn't any help, let me know and maybe in several days I'll have everything completely memorized and will accurately post any and all information.

Seriously, the district staff will know and should be able to provide everything you'd ever want to know about their own bureaucratic empires.

:wink:

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PostPosted: October 20th, 2012, 7:50 pm 
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frozentripper wrote:
Quote:
Frozentripper wrote:
Quote:
Opening a road for one interest group, canoe trippers, sets a precedent for policy... if one interest group is allowed their access on forest roads, then why not another? And then another, and another, and another, down the slippery slope to the situation you describe above.


So how come some closed forest access roads are open in the Fall until the late Winter for snowmobile traffic but closed the rest of the year to all other vehicular traffic?


The MNR district offices will be able to fill you in... I'm working on memorizing all the land use policy guidelines for each district in Ontario, as well as the existing and proposed plans for the 600-plus protected areas scattered throughout. If MNR isn't any help, let me know and maybe in several days I'll have everything completely memorized and will accurately post any and all information.

Seriously, the district staff will know and should be able to provide everything you'd ever want to know about their own bureaucratic empires.

:wink:



Sounds like an article to me! We are doing an Excel spreadsheet like you might be using.

But our subject is beer. :rofl:


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PostPosted: October 20th, 2012, 9:48 pm 
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"So how come some closed forest access roads are open in the Fall until the late Winter for snowmobile traffic but closed the rest of the year to all other vehicular traffic?"


There are a number of roads with access restrictions of this seasonal nature in NW Ontario These restrictions were prescribed to be consistent with the remote tourism operators' time of business. It essentially allows for "locals" to access many lakes for ice fishing but keeps the appearance of remoteness for their guests during summer months.


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PostPosted: October 21st, 2012, 8:21 am 
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JF's comments sums up practice around here. In many places, the remoteness of the closed road keeps the vast majority of snowmobiles out in the winter as well, as in many cases they would have to be driving 50 k or more from the last plowed road.


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PostPosted: October 21st, 2012, 9:10 am 
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I assumed that allowing snowmobiles is basically an acknowledgement that it's impossible to stop them from going where they want, more so than ATVs. The use of snowmobiles on restricted roads is very common in Temagami, and I can't say that I have any objection to it, though I certainly support the "summertime" restrictions.

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PostPosted: October 21st, 2012, 9:50 am 
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Snowmachines are easier to tolerate than ATVs because their environmental impact is less.
In the height of winter, they stay on top of the soil and most vegetation.

But once the snow thins out in late winter, the up-hill sections of trails (quite often, these are our portages) are bare and tread will start to wear down the trail surface. Meltwater then starts erosion and once water is flowing, the trail surface goes to pieces. Image

In late winters of recent years, we also see ATV's using the snowmobile track to venture out towards and across the lakes, amplifying the problems.

See http://www.yip.org/~erhard/atvs_and_the ... trails.htm

As a close friend used to say: "Why do men always have to have a motor between their knees?" :roll:

Anyways, as we think we can give more license to snowmobiles, we discover that the boundaries are blurring and new consequences appear....

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PostPosted: October 21st, 2012, 9:58 am 
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"Why do men always have to have a motor between their knees?"

Maybe because the vibration feels so good??


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