The Wolf Lake Coalition is leading the charge in urging the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to let a mining lease in the Wolf Lake old growth forest expire May 31. If not allowed to expire, the lease can be renewed for another 21 years.
The roughly 300-hectare Wolf Lake Forest Reserve is in the southwestern part of the Temagami area, 50 kilometres northeast of Sudbury. It's home to the largest remaining stand of old-growth red pine trees in the world and is growing increasingly popular with tourists and campers.
The coalition argues that this fact alone should ensure the area is protected from damage and development.
Wolf Lake’s forest reserve status was meant to bring it into the adjacent Chiniguchi Waterway Park, as mining claims and leases lapse. If the lease is not allowed to lapse, this cannot happen, Coalition member Viki Mather previously told Northern Life.
By not letting the claims lapse, she said the area isn't getting the protection it needs, not only from development, but also tourism. The area is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination.
“Frankly, I'm not in the least worried that there's going to be a mine in that area,” Mather said. “There just isn't anything there. I've been working for more than 20 years on the Wolf Lake issue and there have been claims made all over the area. And they've almost all disappeared.”
However, last summer on one particular evening, she saw 20 canoes coming out of three-kilometre Wolf Lake.
“It can't handle that kind of pressure,” Mather said. “It needs to have the protection that park status would bring.”
A much bigger worry, however, are prospectors, she said. Many people view prospecting as benign, but that's not the case in Wolf Lake.
“As long as the claims are valid, the prospectors have the right to clear land and dig pits and it's very damaging to the land,” she said.
In a media release, the Coalition quoted canoeist Ed MacPherson as a witness to what prospecting efforts have left behind in the reserve.
"Drilling pipe lays about the site along with oil-covered soil wherever the ancient drilling rig was stationed,” MacPherson is quoted as saying. “A building on the site has been burned to the ground and much industrial detritus was evident.”
According to the Coalition, the Mining Act affirms that if the lease holder is not in production or on the road to production in that lease, it should expire.
The group said it has looked at the public records and very little activity has occurred on this lease for the past 30 years. Not only is this area not in production – it is not remotely close, the group said.
For more information on the Coalition's experts, visit SaveWolfLake.org.
Posted by Mark Gentili