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 letter:


To kawartha.highlands@ontarioslivinglegacy.com


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 comments:

Boundary Adjustments:
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.

Recreational Activities:

"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 area.

"Camping" - we welcome the outlined steps for management of this activity

"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 in spring.

"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 them.

"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

   Erhard Kraus
   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 other areas."

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).

Canoeing/ Kayaking:
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
vehicles) use:
• Not allowed on the trail system in the KHSS for general recreation or rally purposes.
• 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 involvement.

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