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WIN! Forest reserve status for Wolf Lake area maintained!

Wolf Lake

Wolf Lake

The Ontario government has just announced that it will maintain the ‘forest reserve’ protection status for the Wolf Lake area!

On December 13, 2011, we highlighted in a campaign blog a Toronto Star news report that, “A spokesperson for the Calgary-based Flag Resources, which holds two mining leases around Wolf Lake, said there is potential for gold, copper, cobalt and palladium mines. (As a result), Ontario is planning to kill its promise to protect an ecological gem — an old-growth forest near Temagami. The Ministry of Natural Resources wants to change the ‘forest reserve’ designation for 340 hectares around Wolf Lake (located 50 kilometres northeast of Sudbury) to ‘general use’, which puts a greater focus on mining instead of forests and recreation.”

The public reaction to this was swift and negative prompting Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty to say, “I have in fact taken my boys — at the end of every summer we take a canoe trip and we’ve been to Temagami. It’s a great place, beautiful forests, great freshwater lakes — clean freshwater lakes… I want to make sure that we are striking the right balance when it comes to protecting a rich, natural resource like the forest and the lakes there and ensuring that northerners have an opportunity to grow their economy and to be employed.”

By December 16, it was clear that despite the premier’s comments, he was being non-committal about whether he would intervene in this matter or not. So we posted an action alert on our website directed to him saying, “I am incredibly disappointed that the Ministry of Natural Resources plans to backtrack on a longstanding agreement to protect the lake and surrounding ecosystems. …I ask that you prohibit the removal of the ‘forest reserve’ designation and ensure that the lake is protected, and the land is turned into parkland.”

By January 19, 2012, we had joined the Wolf Lake Coalition, Toronto-based Council of Canadians Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara sits on the group’s steering committee.

More to be done!
But despite the March 12 announcement that the ‘forest reserve’ status staying in place, the work is not done and the area is still under threat from mining. The demand now is have the Ontario government permanently protect Wolf Lake. It could do so by including Wolf Lake in the Chiniguchi Waterway Park. More on our next campaign steps soon.