Looks Like We Missed a Lake

Posted by on Jan 4, 2017 in Articles | 0 comments

Looks Like We Missed a Lake

by Chris Marchand – The Dryden Observer

As spring sweeps across our landscape a bit early, some residents are already returning to find some of their favourite backcountry haunts not exactly as they left them.

Last week I met with a local outdoorsman who was disturbed to find a well-frequented campsite and access point at Trot Lake, north of Dryden, is now surrounded by a clearcut right to the water’s edge of the small ‘splake’ lake — stocked with hybrid trout.

Whenever you look into a story like this you are led to the same inevitable conclusion — members of the public need to become diligently involved in the early stages of the land-use planning process if they wish their cherished recreational sites to avoid such a fate within a managed forest.

As harvesting activity moves closer and closer to our backyards, it has never been more important to register those things which we value on the landscape to decision makers who I dare say, need help seeing the forest for the trees.

Where the public sees beaches, trails, campsites, lake access points and eagles’ nests, decision makers aren’t tasked towards identifying those values — they must come from us.

So, after a few generations of living alongside resource extraction, it should be suitably driven into our thick skulls by now that the onus is on the public to tell them where these special places are.

So why aren’t we?

Well, to be fair to the public, the consultation process isn’t all that fair to the public.

I would expect the MNR to disagree with that statement, given that they really do make every effort, in their own way, to keep the public informed on harvest plans. They run ads, host meetings and invite residents to view what they’re working on.

The problem, as least as I’ve experienced it in the past, is that the information presented is so laden with esoteric industry concepts, jargon and abbreviations, it is very difficult for the layperson to process in a meaningful and enlightening way.

Having emerged from one or two public land-use planning open houses with my brains oozing out of my nose and ears, it becomes very easy to find an excuse to never put oneself through that again.

In effect, places some people care about — like Trot Lake — get missed.

But what if there were a group between the public and the MNR to help facilitate interaction and bridge that gap between a rolled out map full of curious symbols and coloured crosshatching and somebody’s favourite camping spot or walking trail?

Hold that thought… it appears someone has already had this idea.

And God bless the Local Citizens’ Advisory Committee (LCAC) — a group of volunteers who willingly wade neck-deep into the weed-choked swamp of forestry/government newspeak to gain an understanding of the systems and the MNR perspective.

The LCAC states its purpose is to provide advice to the MNR District Manager and assist in the preparation of forest management plans.

Maybe I got this all wrong, but I happen to think the LCAC would better live up to its title by refocusing on advising the public about areas included in harvesting plans. They might borrow a few ideas from the Dryden Cultural Mapping Project as a way to gather anecdotal data on where recreational or other values exist on the landbase, by marking a spot on an online map. That data could be used to offer alerts to groups and individuals when areas of interest fall within future forest management plans.

With the cooperation of the MNR, their website (drydenlcac.ca) could be a repository of useful maps and information for hunters, anglers, campers and Crown Land users of all kinds — a valued link between land managers and users.

The concept of a local citizens’ advisory committee is a great idea that I think has yet to really explore its potential. If greater public participation is genuinely desired in land-use planning then simplicity, ease of access and community engagement should be the goal of the LCAC.

– Chris Marchand

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