WCA's Comments on the Kawartha Draft Recommendations of August 2001
The MNR published a draft on how this new Living Legacy should be
designated and managed. It's a bit slow to download, and thus I put excerpts at the bottom
of this page.
Here's the Wilderness Canoe Association's
I would like to congratulate the Committee and the MNR staff to this
solid piece of work and thank all fortheir outstanding effort.
The Wilderness Canoe Association identifies with the prime objective of this effort, the
protection of the essential beauty of the area even though it may mean that we as
canoeists may be excluded from sensitive areas. We agree with most of the recommendations,
and especially welcome the "Operating Park" designation. Here are some specific
We welcome the inclusion of adjacent areas, for their improved
ability to conserve environmental aspects of the area and for the protection of existing
canoe trails, like the Coon and Big Cedar Lake routes.
"Activities that Promote Spiritual Health and Well-being" - a good basis that sets ground rules for the detailed considerations
below and allows a later judgment of activities not yet considered.
"ATVs" - we support this excellent
approach to curtailing the use of these potentially destructive machines in the
"Camping" - we welcome the outlined steps for management of
"Canoeing" - we welcome the explicit recognition of this
activity. Furthermore, we would consider it reasonable that it be
considered a priority activity since of all the activities, it is the one that gives
generous access to the area with the least impact on nature.
"Dog Sledding" - we welcome this new activity and wish it
success. But we urge that its routes be kept back from canoeable
waters because dog excrement along such trails will degrade the purity of the lakes
"Flying" - we welcome such restrictions as airplane
take-off/landings can be quite detrimental to the wilderness experience when you are not
in the air plane....
"Horseback Riding" - similar concerns as with dog sledding,
with the additional concern about damage to portage trails if riders are allowed to use
"Hunting" - we have expressed concerns with this activity and
grudgingly accept its continuation. We welcome the special attention that will be given to
monitoring to ensure the presence of a rich and representative fauna in the park. Most of all, we want to be involved in the formulation of park policies
that will ensure the safety of the paddling/hiking public when hunting takes place.
"Motorized Use: boats, PWCs, ATVs, wheeled traffic" - we
welcome the restrictions outlined in the draft and believe they are essential to maintain
the value of the area.
"Recreation Camps" - we are concerned that the offer for
enhanced tenure will result in future problems. To the lessee, the establishment of a park
has increased the value of the lease and is a happy windfall. But, in contrast to the
canoe camper who will be subject to camping restrictions, the lessees will be able to
enjoy increased use if they so desire. The Wilderness Canoe Association and paddling users
in general will consider this an unfair and preferential treatment of a select user group.
Moreover, as the use by the camps goes up, it will impact the park's environment and the
enjoyment by other users. We strongly recommend setting controlling
criteria, to review the leases and invoke cancellation where appropriate, and to not give
up effective control of the land.
"Snowmobiling" - we welcome the intent to restrict the
expansion of snowmobile use and trails to their current level and we urge you to be firm
in this matter. In this sensitive area, snowmobile trails must not be allowed to be
widened to accommodate faster traffic. (If safety is a concern, there is the option of
reduced speed for particularily tricky sections of the trail...). Trails must not be
"enhanced" with bridges and culverts as they are alien to a natural area. The
bulldozing of bypass trails should not be considered an option as the flora is permanently
altered and the forest canopy is broken - if a benign trail cannot
be established, this is a sure sign that snowmobiles should be kept out of the area.
"War Games" - thanks for keeping this activity out of the park!
"Water Skiing" - I am sure you guessed what our stance is on
this issue: restrict or ban it completely. Also, the WCA would be very supportive of any
cottage association that consider restricting this activity on their lake.
September 12, 2001
Environmental Representative, Wilderness Canoe Association
Excerpts from the draft recommendations, at www.ontarioslivinglegacy.com/khreport.htm
Introduction:"Our fundamental goal is
to ensure the protection of the Kawartha Highlands Signature Site. From our perspective,
protection means that ecological integrity is not compromised and negative human impacts
are minimized, ensuring the preservation of the following components valued by the public:
semi- wilderness, silence/ solitude, dark night skies, and remote characteristics.
In creating a plan for the future of the Kawartha Highlands, we acknowledge that some
decisions will negatively impact certain individuals or activities. These decisions will
be made to support the protection of this natural legacy. Given that 70% of the Lands for
Life planning area is general use Crown land where a broad range of activities
is permitted, activities prohibited within the Signature Site could take place in these
Boundary adjustments: [Some areas were deleted from the park, in the
vicinity of cottages. Since significant other areas, including the bottom end of the Coon
Lake Loop, were added - EK].
Activities that Promote Spiritual Health & Well- being:
The ability to have a clear view of a star- filled sky at night, or to sit quietly and
listen to the sounds of nature are but two examples of activities that promote spiritual
health and well- being. It is difficult to define this category any further, as these
activities are generally personal in nature and vary from individual to individual. The
respect for and enjoyment of this area have certainly been traditional. These activities
generally require space, solitude, tranquility and dark skyscapes, which are endangered in
the KHSS due to uncontrolled access and increasing use. With expanding development across
the province, there are fewer and fewer places that provide these opportunities.
We recommend that every effort be made in management planning to ensure that areas are
available, which are noise- free (no motorized vehicles, equipment, machinery) and
artificial light- free (no light fixtures).
Motorboats have been traditionally used for transportation to cottages and to recreational
camps and for fishing purposes within the KHSS. Significant impacts can also be associated
with their use, including noise and water pollution, potential introduction of invasive or
exotic species, safety considerations, conflicts with other users, and wakes created can
be detrimental to shoreline nesting birds, such as the Common Loon. We recommend that
motorboating be restricted in the KHSS to the following lakes: Anstruther, Wolf, Loon
Call, Long and Loucks. A permit system should be developed to allow limited access within
specific zones (transport only, not recreational use of area) for recreation camps,
cottages and trapline management. We further recommend that boat caching be regulated by
permit. We also recommend working with cottage associations to determine if it is
appropriate to identify type of motor and/ or horsepower or noise restrictions
Currently, the KHSS offers " backcountry" ( unserviced) camping opportunities
and, undoubtedly, camping in this area has been a traditional activity. Campsites
associated with canoe routes have not been maintained for the past decade and significant
impacts have been noted, including over- crowding, destruction of trees and denuding of
ground vegetation, soil compaction, litter and human waste problems. We recommend that
backcountry camping opportunities continue to be offered (with the exception of any
identified environmentally sensitive areas). We also recommend the following actions:
The appropriate number of campsites within this area needs to be assessed based on
carrying capacity, suitability of site and rehabilitation requirements.
Campsites need to be established (where appropriate), upgraded and main- tained to
minimum backcountry standards (fire pits, pit privies, signage).
Based on the number of campsites that are authorized, carrying capacity for this
activity needs to be carefully managed and monitored. Reservation and permit systems are
required to provide users more certainty for travel planning and to ensure carrying
capacity is not exceeded.
All visitors will be required to adhere to backcountry etiquette. [Potential
economic development opportunity exists for private enterprise to provide serviced camping
facilities adjacent to the protected area.]
[Potential exists to develop winter camping opportunities.] We recommend that this
activity be allowed to continue throughout the area (with the exception of any identified
environmentally sensitive areas).
Ranging from a small to large group activity for recreational, commercial or educational
purposes, canoeing has certainly been a traditional activity within the protected area.
This method of travel allows visitors to experience the many values within the protected
area in a low- impact manner. Currently, the number of available campsites, which appears
to be at or near capacity, determines the capacity of the canoe routes in the KHSS.
We recommend that this activity be allowed to continue throughout the area (with the
exception of any identified environmentally sensitive areas).
ATV (includes argos, trikes, dune buggies, bombardiers and 4x4
Trailriding (includes 2WDs & tractors):
Many studies have documented significant impacts of these vehicles on the natural
environment, including erosion, rutting of trails, soil compaction, damage to vegetation
communities and introduction of invasive or exotic species, and noise. Use of many of
these motorized vehicles is not considered a traditional activity given the time frame of
their existence. Certainly some of the recreation camps were traditionally accessed using
tractors or trucks. Currently these vehicles are being used within the KHSS for a variety
of reasons, including ( but not limited to) access to recreation camps, cottages and
traplines, recreation, rallies, emergency access and enforcement purposes. We recommend
the following related to ATV and 4WD (and similar motorized
Not allowed on the trail system in the KHSS for general recreation or rally
A permit system to allow trail access within specific zones (transport only, not
recreational use of area) for recreation camps, cottages, and trapline management.
Permit use for emergency service access and administration of the protected area
(including maintenance and enforcement).
Personal Water Crafts (PWC):
These relatively new motorized vehicles for travel on watercourses have significant
impacts associated with their use, including safety considerations, noise, erosion of
shorelines, considerable conflicts with other users, and wakes created can be detrimental
to shoreline nesting birds, such as the Common Loon. We recommend that personal water
crafts not be permitted on any lakes within the KHSS.
Hunting has been a long- standing tradition in the KHSS. The Ontario
s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy has provided direction that hunting will continue
to be an allowed activity in this area. White- tailed deer, moose, black bear and small
game species are hunted within the area, and hunting is controlled through regulations,
licensing and tag allocation. The use of dogs to hunt has been a traditional part of
hunting and is regulated through licensing for the dogs. Safety issues for other users
have been an identified public concern.
We recommend the continuation of sport hunting within the KHSS (with the exception of any
identified environmentally sensitive areas). We recommend continued monitoring of game
populations to ensure that no over- harvesting occurs. Consideration of safety and
conservation, with respect to hunting, will be made during management planning with public
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