NOTE: Progress highlights are listed in reverse chronological order.
VICTORY! At an October 7 meeting between our group, and representatives from MNRF and Greenmantle Forest Inc., the Greenmantle representative announced that the cutting plan for the remainder of Block 415 has now been modified to exclude the entire hillside facing Prelate Lake’s east end. The cut will be confined to the other side of this hill, as our group requested. Cutting will also be carried out during winter months, when there will be less disruption for the cottagers, and less soil disturbance leading to potential mercury release into the lake.
All involved in achieving this result have learned the value of public input, and the necessity of robust public consultation for forest management – preferably early in the planning process. It took effort on the part of our group, and on the part of MNRF and Greenmantle Forest Inc., to achieve agreement so late in the process – but it was accomplished, to the credit of all. We thank everyone who has assisted in saving the hillside facing Prelate Lake.
- The results of our group’s own water sampling, collected on Sept. 8 at five different locations around Prelate Lake and analyzed at ALS Environmental on Sept. 10, have been received. Exciting and significant news – Prelate Lake contains no detectable mercury! This makes matters as crystal clear as Prelate Lake’s waters – Prelate Lake is uncontaminated and must not be subjected to potential mercury contamination from the proposed clear-cut. Also, it should quiet detractors of our cause, who have asserted that the Lake is already contaminated and that a little more mercury doesn’t matter. Results for all tested locations were >0.0000050 mg/L, or below the lab’s detectable limit.You may download the Report as a PDF: Prelate Lake Water Testing Sept. 2015. Or, to view JPG images of the five pages, see our Home Page.
- A meeting took place on Sept. 9 between concerned Prelate Lake cottage owners (& their supporters), and representatives from MNRF and Greenmantle Forest Inc. Positions and concerns were clarified on all sides. On the subject of potential mercury contamination, it was learned that MNRF does not customarily test before-and-after mercury levels in lakes whose watersheds have been clear-cut. Thus, solid assurances could not be offered by MNRF or Greenmantle regarding this concern, or the odds of contamination, despite any mitigation practices embodied in the cutting plan. The key MNRF representative, on hearing the strong views of those in attendance, on both the mercury issue and other effects on the beauty and wildlife habitat of the lake, has committed to considering limiting the clear cut to the east side of the hill in Area 415 – which would mean that the west side of that hill, facing Prelate Lake, would not be cut. The potential earliest cutting date has been moved forward to October 16. Please keep up the email campaign to help MNRF make the right decision. See our Have Your Say page.
- We and others have written to Bill Mauro, MPP and Minister of Natural Resources and Forests about this matter, and have been disappointed that he has not responded beyond automated replies and a communication from his assistant. [Aug. 26 UPDATE: Bill Mauro via “MIN Feedback (MNRF)” has responded via email to those who wrote to him on this matter, with a message that simply extols the MNRF’s approval process for Forest Management Plans.] However, we will press on and we encourage one and all to keep writing to Mr. Mauro, Bruce Hyer MP, John Rafferty MP, and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Letters to the editors of our local media (Chronicle Journal, tbnewswatch.com) are very helpful as well.
- We have learned, to our greater alarm, that lakes and rivers adjacent to areas of clear-cut receive significant mercury in post-cut precipitation runoff. In short, what happens is this: pollutants in the air, including mercury from pulp mills and other industrial sources, are absorbed by trees and vegetation over decades of forest growth, and gradually reach the soil as the vegetation decays over time. The forest, when left intact, inhibits erosion of these soils. However, when trees are removed, the lack of cover causes surface soils to erode during storms, allowing greatly increased amounts of mercury-laden material to reach the waterways. This happens after forest fires as well, but the effects are not as great. For more details, see the paper (PDF): Effects of Forest Fires and Clear-cutting on Mercury Loading to Boreal Lakes.
- Unfortunately, our hopes were unfounded. Very disappointingly, Greenmantle Forest Inc. has written to Don Stacey, informing him that cutting activities are slated for Area 415 (Prelate Lake) in the fall of 2015 (beginning on or after Sept. 16), and that logging road construction may begin in August 2015. The cutting plan is largely what it was before, with minor variance to preserve sightlines. However, the letter makes it clear that the cut areas will be visible on the other side of the lake from the camps. The one positive aspect of the letter is that the forestry company intends to allow natural deciduous regeneration, rather than herbicide-supported coniferous planting. Still, we regard it as highly inappropriate that forest is clear-cut within sight of camps that have been enjoyed for generations, rather than in the ample remote areas. Please see our About Us page for ways you can help. Below is the text of the letter received from Greenmantle:
Greenmantle intends to harvest block # 415 near Prelate Lake in 2015. In order to limit disturbance during the peak cottage season, harvest operations will not begin until after September 15th. This is consistent with conditions on other cottage lakes on the Lakehead Forest. However, road construction (from Northern Light Lake Road) may begin in August in order to prepare for harvest and haul operations.
Harvest will occur as per the visibility analysis attached, which has changed slightly from the version I provided you via email on November 21st, 2013. We have removed a small portion of the harvest area at the southwest corner to help mitigate visibility concerns from the public boat launch. We also increased the width of the no-harvest reserve adjacent to Prelate Lake. Otherwise, it is identical to the November 2013 version. As stated on the map and in previous correspondence, we can limit, but not eliminate visibility of harvested area from camps on Prelate Lake. Due to potential errors in topographic and forest inventory data used to run the analysis, harvested area may be visible from camps. As observer points were limited to cottage locations, harvested area will likely be visible from locations on Prelate Lake. Please review the map for more information.
Again, our preliminary silviculture prescription for the block is natural regeneration to aspen.
Don Stacey, a camp owner on Prelate Lake, expresses this view on the matter:
It would appear that this small piece of forest is so valuable that it cannot be spared Greenmantle’s saws. Northwestern Ontario and in particular Resolute Forest Products have been in the news lately due to irresponsible forestry practices. Best Buy, a huge electronics retail chain in Canada and the USA cancelled their contracts with Resolute due to questionable forestry practices exposed by Greenpeace. Raising the ire and disrespecting the rights of citizens of Ontario to enjoy tiny pockets of undisturbed forest by clear cutting them right out from under their noses will not bode well for the reputation of the forestry industry.
Our intent is to expose this issue to as many organizations for the protection of biodiversity as we can find. It seems that there is only two things this industry cares about: fibre and money, and unfortunately, it would appear that our provincial gov’t and Ontario MNRF share the same philosophy.
Have our forests been reduced to nothing more than cubic meters of fibre? Can none be spared for the appreciation of citizens who’ve enjoyed the old growth forests for decades? Must we now witness them being threatened under the looming saws and machines of Greenmantle resulting in their total destruction? It seems that it’s only a matter of time that we’ll have to go to a foreign country or provincial park to see a piece of undisturbed old growth forest.
Time to rally the masses and start protesting this mindless destruction.
Don Stacey’s Letter to the Editor was published on July 29 on tbnewswatch.com. Link to it here.
March 2014 – May 2015
- No apparent activity on the part of Greenmantle in Area 415. There is reason to hope that in this area, at least, better thinking has prevailed and the company has opted to do the right thing – preserve the forest within sight of the camps in this recreational area, and move their harvesting focus to the much more ample remote areas.
December 2013 – February 2014
- Ongoing correspondence with officials at Greenmantle. Appeals to independent organizations that may be able to assist, especially with unbiased information about the nature, health and ecology of the forest area in question.
- Facebook page launched. Please visit and “Like.”
- Don Stacey responds to Greenmantle with this letter: Letter-of-response-to-Greenmantle-Nov-23. Greenmantle’s proposed changes to the designated cutting area are woefully inadequate. Our strategy now is to press for Greenmantle to abandon cutting in Area 415.
- Greenmantle Forest Inc. submits a map showing results of their visibility study at Prelate Lake. Disappointingly, the map suggests that the sight-line from the camps on the lake to the opposite hilltops is the only matter of concern. The map’s notes make no promises as to what will or will not be cut. The “Observer Viewpoint” chosen by Greenmantle does not represent the view from most of the camps, which will suffer much greater loss in terms of their view of the forest. Also, the designation of aspen regrowth as a “preliminary” reforestation strategy is not reassuring. Note also that the base map used is an old one that does not show the clear-cutting that has already denuded great portions of the forest depicted.
- Supporters of the initiative to stop the cutting of Area 415, and to contest the practice of replanting conifers in deciduous forest areas, create this webpage. The focus has now expanded to include not only the area around Prelate lake, but the entire area of predominantly deciduous forest extending to Ontario’s western borders. It has become clear that this is an area of specific ecological importance, and that apart from Quetico Park, it is all imminently threatened.
- Nov. 17 – Disturbing news: A local pilot reports that the forest that Greenmantle is preparing to cut on the hillside by Prelate Lake is virtually the only significant tract left in the area. The clear-cut extends all the way east past Iron Range Lake, northeast of Fortune Lake and beyond. This is in addition to the clear-cut areas northwest of Prelate Lake adjacent to Whistle Creek Road and east towards Fortune Lake, the forest south between Prelate Lake and Addie Lake, and the forest between Addie Lake and Little Addie Lake.
- Greenmantle Forest Inc. responds to inquiries with information, and statement of commitment to investigate potential visual effects of proposed cut in Area 415.
- Don Stacey and supporters contact Michael Gravelle, MPP. Gravelle is responsive to the issue and forwards mail to David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources.
- Nov. 12 – CBC News posts an article on their website. Please read – the comments are informative as well.
- Nov. 2 – Don Stacey’s Letter to the Editor is published in the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal.
- Don Stacey initiates contact with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Greenmantle Forest Inc. concerning cutting activities near Prelate Lake, having been informed by a forestry worker that cutting was proceeding towards the lake.