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Temagami wilderness agreement unsatisfactory to many.

Temagami wilderness agreement unsatisfactory to many

Natural Resources Minister Lyn McLeod admits there are very real concerns for the town of Temagami's future after the closure of the Milne sawmill.

In April, the government and the Teme-Augama Anishnabai Indian band signed a deal to give natives a veto over logging in 40,000 hectares of the 351,000-hectare Temagami forest.

Under the deal, the Milne sawmill was purchased by the Ontario Development Corporation for $5 million and shut down. About 80 people lost their jobs.

"Government is certainly very involved with the town and the people who were employed at Milne to seek what other opportunities there would be," McLeod said. "I'm optimistic that we'll be able to provide some support there."

For many years, the Temagami wilderness and its old-growth pine have been the focus of a fight involving government, loggers, natives and environmentalists.

McLeod also recognizes the concerns of other mills in the area over the security of wood supply because of the agreement.

"There's no question there have been some additional stresses on wood supply, particularly as we have looked at the old pine growth values in the area," she said. "We are going to be working very closely with people in the other mills to ensure that they do have a supply of wood."

The licenses outside the four townships under the stewardship council will provide an immediate wood supply for mills other than Milne, she explained.

"We will be looking at alternative sources of wood for Liskeard Lumber and for Goulard to the extent that Goulard Lumber was affected," she said. "We do have to look at other allocations and we're continuing to do that."

Marc Goulard, general manager and secretary/treasurer of Goulard Lumber in Sturgeon Falls, said the company has lost cutting rights to Delhi Township.

Goulard noted the area contained prime trees. "It was really good stuff which we can't replace anywhere else."

Last year the company built a $250,000 road for its harvesting operations in the area. Compensation has been promised from the provincial government.

However, Goulard said compensation is not his main concern.

"We don't have enough wood," he said. "We can't afford to lose anything. We have to gain."

In Delhi Township, Goulard estimated there were 20 million to 30 million board feet available for his mill, which uses 12 million to 13 million board feet a year.

Goulard said the company cuts in several places, but only receives allocations for seven million to eight million board feet per year. It must buy additional wood for the sawmill.

Goulard's concern is for the long-term supply of wood for the mill, which employs 70 people. "We're looking 15 to 20 years ahead."

However, he warned, "All the industry around here will be in trouble if this goes on."

Goulard believes environmentalists will never be satisfied. "They'll be steadily on our backs."

Miners, fishermen and hunters will also face problems in the future from environmentalists, he predicted. "It's up to the ministry to say this is enough."

Judy Skidmore, executive vice-president of Northern Community Advocates for Resource Equity (Northcare), is scathing in her criticism of the provincial government for the agreement.

"They just sold out," Skidmore said. "It's terrible that government seems to uncaringly do these things."

Skidmore accused the province of signing the agreement to quiet Temagami Wilderness Society protesters outside Premier David Peterson's office. "The decision they made was one to solve an afternoon problem."

Skidmore believes the last reasonable compromise in the Temagami dispute was in 1983 with the formation of the Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park.

"Everything else has been unreasonable, and it's just getting worse and worse."

The Temagami Wilderness Society is also not satisfied with the agreement, noting it only covers eight per cent of the wilderness, and just 15 to 17 per cent of the old-growth red and white pine.

Society spokesman Dave Kappele said the group will continue its efforts to save the forest.

"We're still rolling," said Kappele. "We'd like to see all of the old-growth forest protected."

Kappele said the deal was a good one for the native band and the mill owner.

However, the society would like to see the mill workers get some money, he added. "The town of Temagami was left with absolutely nothing in this process."

The society has also charged that the government has threatened a 20,000-hectare area by issuing new licences.

However, McLeod said the society is misrepresenting the difference between a licensed area, which is fairly large, and cutting approval for a particular work plan, which is a small component of a particular licence.

"In fact, we had a fewer licences actually issued because Milne lumber was closing down," she said.

The government has not re-allocated all of the wood that would have been going to Milne, she said.

PHOTO : Unlike the Milne sawmill in Temagami, the Goulard Lumber operation in Sturgeon Falls is

PHOTO : still operating after a recent provincial government agreement with the native band in the

PHOTO : Temagami area. However, Goulard has lost access to prime trees and is concerned about its

PHOTO : future.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Temagami, Ontario
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jun 1, 1990
Previous Article:Grant rebuilding production line, tight-lipped about progress.
Next Article:Battle lines remain unchanged in fight over northern forests.

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