Friday, August 19, 2005

Algonquin No Place for Logging?

Re: - Algonquin no place for logging

Just leave it to an environmentalist to screw around with the truth. The above article appeared in the editorial section of today's Toronto Star. As I read the article I couldn't stop shaking my head in disgust. I was not shaking my head in disgust with the Ontario Government because I was fully convinced of the writer's arguments. No, I was disgusted with how wrong the writer was in order to try and paint the provincial government and the provincial parks service in a bad light when there was no reason to.

No reason to? There were some allegations that are easily proven false by just looking at the government's discussion paper on legislative proposals and in looking at Algonquin's history.

Since the early 1800's Algonquin Park has been home to logging and various logging practices. The evolution of logging practices is easily seen at the Algonquin Park Logging Museum. In a nutshell the logging being undertaken in the park's boundaries over the last two hundred years has evolved from clear cutting by thousands of men by hand to today's select cutting. Thus, to my amazement, the article in the Toronto Star that seemed to insinuate, but did not outright mention, that clear cutting was going on.

The government's own discussion paper notes that "there is only selective harvesting in the park which is consistent with protection of natural values." That, and the fact that we have yet to hear about mass logging in Algonquin Park from the other tree hugging hippie groups would suggest that clear cutting is going on.  Even the Town of Aurora does select cutting in its forests in order to sustain the future of the forest. Basically in selective cutting, an aging tree is selected to be removed in order to ensure future trees will be able to grow. The trees removal ensures that the light is not blocked out by the leaves of the existing tree and that the younger trees will have a chance to grow because it will not have to compete with the elder tree for water and nutrients in the soil. Usually the trees that are selectively cut are the older trees that are most likely to dye anyways within the next decade or so.

Even better is to go through the article line by line and show how wrong this environmentalist is:

Beyond the next ridge, while campers boil up their morning coffee, chainsaws and logging equipment are tearing into another hillside. It is a sad but little known fact that more than 70 per cent of the "park" is actually open to logging. Beyond the public access points, hidden behind barriers, thousands of kilometres of logging roads criss-cross the park's magnificent landscape, enabling heavy equipment and trucks to ship out wood. 

However, the government's own discussion paper notes that:

 "Today, Algonquin is the only Ontario protected area where commercial logging continues, however, logging is only permitted on less than 1.5 per cent of the park in any given year." Considering how large Algonquin Park is, a mere 1.5 per cent per year means it will take almost 100 years for the logging industry to entirely infiltrate the entire park. However, lets remember that, as noted above, selective cutting is only going on. Thus, I would suggest, the logging is only having a minimal impact on the park itself.

When canoeists arrive at the park, they see pristine lakes and rivers surrounded by glorious stands of pine, oak, maple and birch. There are unique populations of brook and lake trout in the park's waters. Moose, deer and bears still live in the woods. ...And the brook and lake trout may be living on borrowed time because easy access to their haunts threatens them with the same fate as Newfoundland's cod. 

This section is perhaps the most ridiculous. The first line is easily taken care of considering that no logging, even before the discussion paper, has been near any recreation areas. These recreation areas include the canoe routes indicated on the Algonquin Provincial Park's Official Canoe Route guide or along Highway 60 (the main highway through Algonquin's south end). Of course logging is required if a danger is presented for obvious reasons (e.g. tree might fall on the road or trail, etc.). The discussion paper even notes that major industrial uses will be prohibited except in the recreation/utilization zone of Algonquin Provincial Park". This line basically means logging will still continue. However, please note that selective logging is still part of the discussion paper as well in order to maintain the harmony between canoeists and the overall maintenance of the park. Thus, sure a canoeist may see the odd logger on their canoeing through the park. Again, remember the idea of select cutting means only one in probably a hundred trees is being removed.

The lake trout on borrowed time? The ecology of the park is not being changed, in fact it is being enhanced by giving a smaller trees a chance to grow and mature. Finally, Newfoundland's cod stocks have not dwindled because of logging, the cod stocks dwindled because of major European and North American over fishing. Newfoundland's Cod problems mainly emanate from the problem of too much overfishing and not enough conservation regulation. Algonquin's lake trout are unlikely to dwindle because of the mere fact that the province of Ontario requires a fishing license in order fish in Ontario. Hefty fines are levied against those who choose to violate the licensing laws. These fishing licenses stipulate how many fish the fisherperson can catch between within a given time. Only so many fishing licenses are issued each calendar year in order to ensure that Ontario's fishing stocks are adequate for the future.

Moose, deer and bears still live in the woods. But eastern elk and woodland caribou that once roamed freely within the park's boundaries have disappeared, driven north or to extinction by the chainsaws and logging roads. 

Right, Moose, deer and bears still live in the woods and are unaffected by this mass logging blitz that the Toronto Star article is trying to show. So what happened to the elk and caribou? These animals simply checked out of Algonquin Park because they couldn't stand the sound of chainsaws? Right. This line is so full of holes it isn't even funny. Perhaps these animals were driven north because of the effects of global warming what these animals eat has moved north or found more in abundance further north. Or, because of a lack of conservation efforts in this field of wildlife management, the elk and caribou populations were unsustainable in the within the park's boundaries. Perhaps, in the future, these populations could be re-introduced into the park.

As far as logging roads are concerned, these roads are only dirt roads created when the trucks and other equipment needed to remove the cut tree. Thus, why would this disrupt the flow of a bear or moose in their native habitat?

Call us crazy, but we think that if it's called a park, then it really should be one, and that means it should be managed in a way that protects it for its ecological integrity. 

OK...YOUR CRAZY! The only way for the future of the park to maintained, select cutting is required. Otherwise if the older trees are not removed, there is a lot of dry brush ready to ignite at any moment and cause a forest fire. Also, as noted above, newer trees are given a chance to grow in the places of their older counterparts. Therefore, by select cutting the Ontario government, through its parks ministry, is protecting the future of the park and the future ecological integrity of the park.


This fall, the Ontario government is expected to introduce legislation to amend the Ontario Parks Act — last revised in 1954. To be effective, the act needs to establish that nature, or ecological integrity, is the first management priority for protected areas. Our understanding is that the draft legislation actually does that, with one glaring exception — Algonquin Park apparently will be excluded from the act. 

The Ontario government has been protecting Algonquin park for quite some time. That is why Algonquin Park today, as we know it, exists. The logging practices over time have evolved with the use of the park. Today select cutting is all that goes on in the park unless absolutely required in order to protect the park's trees. For example, if the Asian Long Horned Beatle ever gets into Algonquin, further action beyond selective cutting will be required. But that would be only in an emergency. Algonquin Park is actually protected under the proposed legislation (the discussion paper) in terms of logging. The legislation, if passed by the Ontario Legislature, would ensure both the economic and recreational activities of the Algonquin Park area intact for generations to come.

Besides, if logging was outlawed in the park and slowly around Ontario, what would the person writing the laughable Toronto Star editorial print her work on? The paper her article may have been printed on may have come from a select cut tree from somewhere in Ontario. Logging practices have come a long way in this world from the olden days of clear cutting and floating the logs up river.

Algonquin Park is in the proposed Act and will always be called a park for generations to come because of the protective legislation included in the act. In fact, Algonquin Park, because of the decisions of those past and present will be around for a lot longer in the future. That, in fact, is no laughing matter.

 Works Cited 

“It’s in Our Nature.” Government of Ontario. August 2005. Online. Internet. 18 August 2005. Available:

Sumner, Janet. "Algonquin No Place for Logging." Toronto Star. 18 August 2005. Online Internet. 18 August 2005. Available: Links

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