Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve Management Statement
This document provides policy direction for the protection, development and management of the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve and its resources.
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Statement of Conservation Interest
Ministry of Natural Resources
I am pleased to approve this Statement of Conservation Interest for the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve.
The Bennet Lake Esker Kame ComplexConservation Reserve totals 3,488 hectares in size and is found in the Smokey Falls 3E-1 Site Dis trict, which is situated in the Lake Abitibi 3E Site Region (Hills, 1959; Crins, 2000). The Reserve is 43 km north east of the Town of Kapuskasing within Boyle and Guilfoyle Townships. The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve is located within the Hearst District in the Northeast Region.
This site contains a provincially significant earth science site which represents an exceptional well developed esker kame complex. The complex is oriented approximately north – south within the site and it grades into a linear area of thick drift, very likely an extensive subaquatic outwash fan and part of the Pinard Moraine. Relatively large kettle holes, many of which are occupied by small lakes, are associated with the esker system.
Direction for e stablishing, planning and managing conservation reserves is defined under the Public Lands Act, the Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy, and other applicable policies. The specific direction for managing this conservation reserve is in the form of a basic SCI, which defines the area to which the plan applies, provides the purpose for which the conservation reserve has been proposed, and outlines the Ministry of Natural Resources’ management intent for the protected area. It will provide both the foundation for continued monitoring of activities and guidance for managing the conservation reserve. More detailed direction at this time is not anticipated. However, should significant facility development be considered or complex issues arise requiring addit ional studies, more detailed management direction in the form of special protection measures, or a detailed Resource Management Plan, will be prepared with full public consultation.
The public was informed and consulted prior to the regulation of the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve under the Public Lands Act as well as during the preparation and review of this Statement of Conservation Interest.
The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve will be managed under the jurisdic tion of the Hearst District Ministry of Natural Resources under the supervision of the Kapuskasing Area Office Supervisor as designated by the Hearst District Manager.
Recommended for approval by:
R. David Scott
Date: Original Signed on March 21, 2005
Date: Original Signed on April 10, 2005
The Province of Ontario is home to a broad range of climate types, geography, and plant and animal species, all of which contribute to the variety and abundance of natural resources found here. The Ministry of Natural Resources is the lead conservation and resource management agency in the province and is therefore responsible for the management of these resources, in particular, forests, fisheries, wildlife, mineral aggregates and petroleum resources, Crown lands and waters, and provincial parks and protected areas (MNR 2000).
The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is committed to the protection of natural and cultural heritage values and as such has developed strategies that will maintain the integrity and sustainability of the parks and protected areas system. Recently the Government of Ontario conducted a major land use planning exercise, which resulted in the release of the Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy (MNR 1999). The Land Use Strategy (LUS) focuses on four specific objectives that were established to guide the planning process. These are: to complete Ontario’s system of parks and prot ected areas; to recognize the land use needs of the resource-based tourism industry; to provide forestry, mining, and other resource industries with greater land and resource use certainty; and to enhance hunting, angling and other Crown land recreation opportunities. A major part of the Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy was the government’s initiative to establish 378 new protected areas.
The Bennet Lake Esker Kame ComplexConservation Reserve (C 1562) was created as part of this expansion. As a result, the planning and management of this conservation reserve is consistent with the policies outlined in the Land Use Strategy. This conservation reserve is regulated under the Public Lands Act (PLA). Prior to its regulation, MNR met the Environmental Assessment Act requirements for the establishment and management of this conservation reserve.
Ontario’s network of natural heritage areas has been established to protect and conserve areas that represent the diversity of the natural regions of the p rovince, including the species, habitats, special features and ecological systems which comprise that natural diversity. Protecting these natural heritage areas is the cornerstone to the sustainable management of natural resources. It ensures that repres entative sites are retained in their natural state and can continue to contribute to Ontario’s natural environment (MNR 1997a).
In order to preserve these sensitive areas they require protection from incompatible uses to ensure their values will endure over time. Conservation reserves have been identified as a way of providing necessary protection from incompatible uses such as forestry and aggregate extraction, while still permitting many of the traditional uses that allow the people of Ontario to enjoy our special heritage. An approved Statement of Conservation Interest (SCI) or a Resource Management Plan (RMP) will guide the management and administration of each conservation reserve.
The management direction for this conservation reserve is a Statement of Conservation Interest. As a stewardship document, the SCI is the minimum level of management direction established for this conservation reserve. SCIs define the area that is being planned, the purpose for which the conservation reserve has been proposed, and it outlines the Ministry of Natural Resources’ intent for the protected area. This SCI will govern the lands and waters within the regulated boundary of the conservation reserve. However, to ensure MNR protection objectives are being fully met within the conservation reserve, the surrounding landscape and related activities must consider the site’s objectives and heritage values. In addition, it is the intent of this SCI to create public awareness that will promote responsible stewardship of protected areas and surrounding lands. With management partners such as Ontario Parks, industry, local governments, etc. the MNR District Offices will be able to pursue and advance sound environmental, economic and social strategies and policies related to the protection of conservation reserves and provincial parks.
The purpose of this SCI is to identify and describe the values of the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve and outline the Ministry’s management intent. The management direction will protect the site’s natural heritage values for the benefit of all Ontario residents and demonstrate its compatibility within the larger sustainable landscape. This direction will comply with land use intent as stated by the Ontario’s Living Legacy Lands Use Strategy (MNR 1999).
The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve totals 3,488 hectares in size and is found in the Smokey Falls 3E-1 Site District, which is situated in the Lake Abitibi 3E Site Region (Hills, 1959; Crins, 2000). The Reserve is 43 km north east of the Town of Kapuskasing within Boyle and Guilfoyle Townships. The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve is located within the Hearst District in the Northeast Region.
This site contains a provincially signific ant earth science site which represents an exceptional well developed esker kame complex. The complex is oriented approximately north – south within the site and it grades into a linear area of thick drift, very likely an extensive subaquatic outwash fan and part of the Pinard Moraine. Relatively large kettle holes, many of which are occupied by small lakes, are associated with the esker system.
Conservation reserves complement provincial parks in protecting representative natural areas and special landscapes. The guidelines for the management of this conservation reserve are found in this document.
2.0 Goals and Objectives
2.1 Goal of the Statement of Conservation Interest
The goal of a conservation reserve, as stated in Policy PL 3.03.05 (MNR 1997a), is to protect the natural heritage values on public lands while permitting compatible land use activities. The goal of this Statement of Conservation Interest is to provide the framework and direction to guide management decisions in order to ensure the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve will meet this goal through both short and long-term objectives.
2.2.1 Short Term Objectives
Objective 1: To define the purpose for which the conservation reserve has been identified and t o outline the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ management intent for the protected area.
- By identifying the state of the resource with respect to the natural heritage values being protected;
- By identifying current land use activities that are occurring on the land base.
Objective 2: To determine the best management strategy to protect the integrity of the values in the site. Strategies:
- By determining the land use compatibility of current and potential land uses;
- By developing specific guidelines and prescriptions to manage existing and potential land uses.
Objective 3: To create public awareness of the values within this conservation reserve and promote responsible stewardship of the protected area.
- By creating fact sheets and pamphlets describing this conservation reserve and the resource(s) or values that it contains and protects.
- By seeking partnerships with local stakeholders to ensure the values of the site are properly protected.
This Statement of Conservation Interest meets the planning requirements for conservation reserves as determined in Procedure PL 3.03.05 which states that management plans must be written within three years of the regulation date (MNR 1997b ).
2.2.2 Long Term Objective
Objective 1: To determine the long term management goals of the conservation reserve.
- By identifying the research needs, client services, and marketing strategies necessary to determine the position of this conservation reserve among the system of parks and prot ected areas in Ontario.
Objective 2: To determine the representative targets of the site. Strategies:
- By identifying the scientific values in relation to provincial benchmarks;
- By identifying any monitoring or research necessary to identify and maintain the integrity of these characteristics beyond this plan.
Objective 3: To provide direction for the evaluation of new uses or economic ventures proposed.
- A Test of Compatibility shall be undertaken to evaluate the impact of suggested use(s), either positive or negative, on the protected values and administrative needs of the conservation reserve.
3.0 Management Planning
3.1 Planning Context
3.1.1 Planning Area
The planning area for this site will consist of the regulated boundary for the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve as defined in section 4.1.3 Administrative Description. This land base will form the area directly influenced by the Statement of Conservation Interest. It is also recognized that t he surrounding landscape and related activities must carefully consider the site’s values to ensure that the protection objectives are being fully met within the conservation reserve. The Ministry of Natural Resources, in conjunction with other partners, will work to ensure that the values are protected during additional planning and implementation of activities on the intervening landscape. A ny strategies noted within this plan related to the site’s boundary or beyond will need to be presented for consideration within a larger planning context.
3.1.2 Management Planning Context
The Ontario Living Legacy Land Use Strategy (1999) describes the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation as containing a provincially significant earth science feature represented by an exceptionally well developed esker kame complex. The site was then regulated as Schedule 59?, in Ontario Regulation 686/00? made under the Public Lands Act, December 20, 2000? and filed December 21, 2000? amending Ontario Regulation 805/94? (Conservation Reserves).
Once a Conservation Reserve is passed into regulation, it must be determined what level of management planning is required to fulfill the protection targets. This Statement of Conservation Interest will only address known issues or current proposals with respect to permitted uses or potential economic opportunities brought forward during this planning stage. However, in terms of approving future permitted uses and/or development(s), there are established mechanisms in place to address such proposals. Any future proposals will be reviewed using the Procedural Guideline B – Land Uses – Test of Compatibility Public Lands Act Policy PL 3.03.05 (MNR 1997) or other MNR environmental screening processes (see Appendix B) .
Consideration for proposals pertaining to cultural resources may be screened through Conserving a Future for our Past: Archaeology, Land Use Planning & Development in Ontario, Section 3 (MCzCR, 1997) and MNR’s history in establishing Area of Concern (AOC) descriptions and prescriptions for cult ural heritage resources within forest management plans (FMPs). These planning tools will help refine the review process once the proposal satisfies the direction and intent of the Public Lands Act, associated policies and this planning document.
3.2 Planning Process
There are two policy documents that address the planning process; a Statement of Conservation Interest (SCI) is the minimal requirement for providing planning direction and a Resource Management Plan (RMP) that deals with more complex issues (where several conflicting demands are placed on the resources). The guidelines for the preparation of these documents are outlined in Procedural Guideline A – Resource Management Planning (Conservation Reserves Procedure PL3.03.05 Public Lands Act). The appropriate plan must be completed within three years of the regulation date.
For current planning purposes, the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve will be managed under the auspices of a Statement of Conservation Interest. Interested parties from both the private and public sectors were consulted during the Ontario’s Living Legacy (OLL) planning process from candidate conservation reserve to regulation. The public was consulted during the conservation reserve’s creation and final regulation. The responses and concerns brought forward during that consultation period are reflected in this Statement of Conservation Interest.
Public consultation will be solicited during a review of any future land use proposals that would require new decisions to be made. In addition, any future proposal and/or any new, significant management direction considered will be published on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry (EBR).
The SCI is a policy document that will provide background information, identify values to be protected and establish management guidelines for use in the administration of the reserve.
The implementation of the policy will be the mandate of the MNR at the district level, however associations with various partners may be sought to assist in the delivery. It must be noted that this SCI is a working document and it will be necessary to make revisions to it from time to time.
As part of public consultation, initial consultatio n was solicited from the public, First Nation communities, and stakeholders that may have an interest in the conservation reserves in the Hearst District by means of direct mail . Also, newspaper ads were placed in five local papers in Kapuskasing, Heasrt, Chapleau, and Timmins that may have an interest in the conservation reserves in the Hearst District. They are listed below:
- LeNord (Hearst)– French
- The Weekender (Hearst/Kapuskasing)– French & English
- Northern Times (Kapuskasing) – English
- Chapleau Express – English
- Timmins Daily Press– English
- Cochrane Time Post-Englis/French
The purpose of the consultation was to notify that the management planning for the six conservation reserves within the Hearst District was beginning and:
- MNR is collecting comments and information regarding these SCIs to assist in making decisions and determining future public consultation needs
- Respondents will be notified when the draft statements of conservation interest are available for review. At that time a copy of the draft would be provided to interested persons or organizations upon request
The Ministry of Natural Resources is exempt from providing notification of this planning process on the Electronic Bulletin Registry, under Section 30 of the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR).
Note that public consultation will be solicited during a review of any future land use proposals that would require new decisions to be made. In addition, any future proposal and/or any new, significant management direction considered will be published on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry (EBR) .
4.0 Background Information
4.1 Location and Site Description
Table 1: Location and administrative details for the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve
|Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve
|Eco- Region Eco-District (Hills 1959)
|3E- 1 (Hills, 1959; Crins, 2000)
|Eco-Region Eco-District (Crins and Uhlig 2000 )
|Lake Abitibi 3E Smokey Falls Ecodistrict 3E-1
|MNR Administrative Region/ District/Area
|Northeast Region / Hearst
|Map Name Latitude/ Longitude
|Bennet Lake 49 50’44"N 82 20’ 23"W
|Minimum: 210m Maximum: 300m
|Moose River Basin
|Wildlife Management Unit
4.1.2 Physical Site Description
The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve is comprised of 3,488 ha and is located approximately forty-three kilometers north east of Kapuskasing within Boyle and Guilfoyle townships. A large component of the reserve is bordered by vectored boundaries; however, biological boundaries contain most of the eastern part of the site. This site was originally an Earth Science Site (Gap Bennet Lake) that was brought forward during option development C8 (OMNR 1998) during the Lands For Life, Boreal East Round Table and was decreased in size. This decrease and further refinement as a result of consultation with the forest industry and the PPL has resulted in a final configuration. The major boundary change occurred along the northeast side of the site and it now follows a creek system, which gives the sit e a better biological boundary .
The provincial landform coverage shows three quarters of this site to be dominated by moderately broken end moraine with the remaining parts of the site consisting of weakly broken ground moraine, moderately broken ground moraine and weakly broken end moraine (Map 1b - Landforms). Th is conservation reserve is found in Rowe’s (1972) Northern Clay Boreal Forest Section and is inhabited by black spruce stands, which occupy both the rising uplands and the lowland flats coexisting with sedge fens and sphagnum-heath bogs.
The FRI data for the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve established a major presence of black spruce forest communitie s in the form of pure, dominant conifer, predominant conifer, mixed conifer and mixed wood stands. Poplar communities were also shown to inhabit a significant portion of the site, emerging in pure, predominant hardwood, mixed hardwood and mixed wood stands.
Approximately three quarters of the forest is aged between 60 - 89 years with the most of the remaining stands mostly nested along the south, southeast and southwestern borders of the site are aged between 0-29 years.
4.2 Administrative Description
The legal description of the Bennet Lake Esker Kame ComplexConservation Reserve, regulated as Schedule 59 in Ontario Regulation 686/00 made under the Public Lands Act on March ? , 2004 and filed on March ?, 2004 amending Ontario Regulation 805/94.
The Bennet Lake Esker Kame ComplexConservation Reserve is located within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Hearst District administrative area and within the legal boundaries of the Gordon Cosen Forest Sustainable Forest License area.
4.3 History of the Site
The aerial reconnaissance found little disturbance throughout this site. It has been suggested that the site was possibly cut in the early 1980’s which may have accounted for the poor stocking of the poplar hardwood mixed stand in the south central part of the site. Some old trails/roads were evident within the southern and southeastern portion of the site with links to Bennet Lake.
Table 2 indicates the current status of natural heritage inventory that has occurred or that will be required in the near future.
Table 2: Inventory and Survey Information for Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve.
|Kristjansson, R. Interim earth science inventory checklist
|2001(Thompson ) Aerial reconnaissance Survey
|2001 - Malenfont, C. and M. Silver.
5.0 State of the Resource
The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve is comprised of 3,488 ha and is located approximately forty-three kilometers north east of Kapuskasing within Boyle and Guilfoyle townships. A large component of the reserve is bordered by vectored boundaries; however, biological boundaries contain most of the eastern part of the site. This site was originally an Earth Science Site (Gap Bennet Lake) that was brought forward during option development C8 (OMNR 1998) during the Lands For Life, Boreal East Round Table and was decreased in size. This decrease and further refinement as a result of consultation with the forest industry and the PPL has resulted in a final configuration. The major boundary change occurred along the northeast side of the site and it now follows a creek system, which gives the site a better biological boundary (Houle and Thompson, 1999).
The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve is found in the Smokey Falls 3E -1 Site District, which is situated in the Lake Abitibi 3E Site Region (Hills, 1959; Crins, 2000). The Lake Abitibi Site Region is found to contain moderately to gently rolling bedrock, generally covered by deep deposits of clay, silt and sand. The Smokey Falls Site District is characterized by a smooth plain of clay and loam, moderate to high in lime, shallow to moderately deep over bedrock with a fairly high percentage of muskeg. The forest climate for the site is mid-humid, mid -boreal (Hills, 1959; Poser, 1992).
The provincial landform coverage shows three quarters of this site to be dominated by moderately broken end moraine with the remaining parts of the site consisting of weakly broken ground moraine, moderately broken ground moraine and weakly broken end moraine (Map 1b - Landforms). Kristjansson’s preliminary analysis also reported till deposits for the site but not exclusively end and gro und moraines. He notes the site to be immediately underlain by till deposits (with subordinate areas of shallow till, which overlie end moraine deposits) and silt to sandy till over esker; esker- kame complex and till all associated with the provincially significant esker, ice-contact slopes and nested lakes running through the center of the site (Kristjansson in prep.).The reserve also contains till deposits (with subordinate areas of shallow, fine - grained, glaciolacustrine deposits), which can be found in the northwest, north and northeastern parts of the site. Hummocky moraine with subordinate areas of kame -kettle complex are found in the south, southwest and western areas of the reserve. Lastly organic deposits are found throughout the reserve.
This conservation reserve is found in Rowe’s (1972) Northern Clay Boreal Forest Section and is inhabited by black spruce stands, which occupy both the rising uplands and the lowland flats coexisting with sedge fens and sphagnum-heath bogs. Tamarack is an occasional companion of the black spruce. Black spruce commonly occurs with cedar in swamp areas mainly in the west, but the cedar are most dominant along the borders of the swamps since this is where they reach tree size. Areas that display examples of shallowly buried coarse drift or that are located in close proximity to lakes and rivers show examples of hardwood or mixed wood communities such as trembling aspen, balsam poplar, balsam fir, white spruce and black spruce. Areas that are drier in nature such as old beaches, eskers, and outwash deposits exhibit stands of jack pine and white birch are found on sandy soils (Rowe, 1972).
The FRI data for the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve established a major presence of black spruce forest communities in the form of pure, dominant conifer, predominant conifer, mixed conifer1 and mixed wood2 stands. The majority of these stands are located in the northern portion of the site but also exist scattered along the east, southeast, southwest a nd western borders of the site. For the most part these spruce forests are associated with all the above mentioned Kristjansson interpreted landforms. Poplar communities were also shown to inhabit a significant portion of the site, emerging in pure, predominant hardwood, mixed hardwood and mixed wood stands. These stands can be found in the northern and southern parts of the site but are most concentrated in the central region of the reserve extending from the east to the western boundary on all previously mentioned landforms but the organic deposits. White birch communities are present within the site making up more distinct communities of predominant conifer, hardwood mixed and mixedwood stands. The white birch stands are situated in the center of the site and along the southeastern boundary of the reserve on all but the silt to sandy silt till, lineated till plain, silt and clay over the previous landform and organic deposits. A balsam fir mixedwood and conifer mixed stands dominate the southern port ion of the site. Finally, there is a small (approx. 4 ha) white spruce conifer mixed stand in the eastern corner of the reserve (Map 2a – Forest Communities).
Approximately three quarters of the forest is aged between 60 - 89 years with the most of the remaining stands mostly nested along the south, southeast and southwestern borders of the site are aged between 0-29 years. The history of these younger stands is presently unknown (Map 2c – Age Distribution). Small portions of the forests are aged between 120-149 years, which include scattered old growth stands of black spruce and mixedwoods (Map 5 – Old Growth).
The majority of the forest stands represented are stocked between 61-80 percent. Other stands fall into the categories of 61-99 percent or 1- 40 percent (Map 2b – Stocking Distribution). A large poplar- white birch - black spruce area (poplar or white birch hardwood mixedwood, Map 2a – Forest Communities) in the southern part of the site contains the largest component of poor stocking within the site. The history of this site is unknown but probably the result of past forest harvesting since an old road network is associated with the site.
During the aerial reconnaissance survey not all wetlands were classified. Many of the lakes contained shore fen or sheltered marshlands with a number of isolated bogs observed. Extensive shore fens were associated with Boyle Creek and its tributaries within the northeastern portion of the site. The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve falls in the Moose River Basin, in tertiary watershed 4LL (OMNR, 2002). This conservation reserve contains a number of unnamed lakes that form excellent examples of chain -o f-lakes systems. Two marl lakes were also observed on the site. No information on fishery stocks within the site is currently available. Wildlife values include two trap line areas, two bear management areas and two baitfish areas.
Quality of Present Representation
Diversity is a measure of the site’s life and earth science heterogeneity. It is based on the number and range (variety) of the natural landscape features and landforms of earth science values and the richness and evenness of the life science component. The site has relatively low diversity for such a large site considering much of the topography is controlled by till with mainly poplar – birch mixed woods surrounding the lakes in the middle of the site and towards the south. The north consists primarily of black spruce coniferous stands. However, the site also contain s chain-of-lakes, an esker kame complex and large kettle holes which all contribute to the site’s overall diversity.
A more ecological grouping of the FRI based on Standard Forest Units (SFUs, Map 2d) was constructed; however the diversity of landforms and vegetation combinations precluded a quantitative landform: vegetation analysis until the landforms have been digitized. However, looking at the number of landforms identified by Kristjansson (in prep.) and SFUs presented (Map 2d) many of landforms have large till components and the forest communities are dominated by black spruce, poplar, white birch or mixedwood communities. For its size, the diversity is rather low. The large white birch stand to the south (BW1) at first glance doesn’t appear to ma tch the poplar hardwood mixedwood as described in Map 2a. This community is classified in the FRI as Po4 Bw4Sb 2 , which is treated in the computer algorithm as BW1, since the poplar component is less than 50 percent and represented that way on Map2d – Stand ard Forest Unit .
Diversity could be slightly increased with a complete classification of all wetland communities and if SFU developmental stages were taken into account when one compares the same L: V combination but dissimilar development stage. When a landform: vegetation analysis is completed a review of the development stages is warranted. Special features such as the esker and moraine attributes increase diversity as well as the presence of lake basins and shorelines and creek beds also add wetland and aquatic diversity. Aquatic diversity would require a survey of all lakes and possibly creek systems to record the biodiversity present within the lakes and waterways within the site. Presently no lake or creek/river inventory has been completed within the candidate protected area – so aquatic diversity is unknown.
b) Ecological Factors
Wherever possible, a site’s boundaries should be created to include the greatest diversity of life and earth science features to provide the maximum ecological integrity. It should be ecologically self-contained, bounded by natural features and include adequate area to buffer the core ecosystems from adjacent land use activities (OMNR, 1992). The Bennet Lake Conservation Reserve largely consists of vectored boundaries with the presence of a biological and cultural boundaries found in the eastern part of the reserve. Vectored boundaries contain the south, west and northern parts of the site. The eastern side of the site is delimited by a creek system, which runs halfway down the reserve. The remaining half of the eastern boundary includes a small-vectored border, a portion of a road and then a trail, which completes the eastern boundary for the reserve.
Currently we do not have minimum size standards for conservation reserves under different landscape conditions. However, a minimum size standard of 2000 ha has been established for natural environment parks by Ontario Parks (OMNR, 1992). This minimum standard was considered necessary to protect representative lands capes as well as allow for low intensity recreational activities. The Bennet Lake Conservation Reserve is 3488 ha in size and therefore meets this minimum standard. Although the site does meet the minimum standard, the large presence of vectored boundaries may hinder the site’s ability to protect representative values
The aerial reconnaissance found little disturbance throughout this site. It has been suggested that the site was possibly cut in the early 1980’s which may have accounted for the poor stocking of the poplar hardwood mixed stand in the south central part of the site. Some old trails/roads were evident within the southern and southeastern portion of the site with links to Bennet Lake.
A road was constructed through the site alo ng the western portion of the esker during 1989- 90. This road is an extension of the Fred Flatt Road and was constructed in preparation to harvest wood off this candidate protected area. In 1999 when the OLL LUS (OMNR 1999) was approved there was a moratorium on harvesting within the site.
d) Special Features
The special features for this site include the chain -of-lakes and the esker ridges surrounded by white birch, black spruce and poplar forest communities.
e) Current Land Use Activities
Current land use activities within or near the conservation reserve includes trapping, snowmobiling, fishing, hunting, canoeing, and kayaking. As previously mentioned a road (Fred Flatt Exteinsion was constructed during 1989- 90 along the western portion of the eske r and runs the length of the conservation reserve in a north south direction. There are six lakes within this site that form part of the Kapuskasing Area, Hearst District fish stocking program. These lakes (Guilfoyle 64, Guilfoyle 68, Guilfoyle 69, Boyle 7, Boyle 8, Boyle 11) have been stocked with trout since the mid 1980’s. They are located east of and along the Fred Flatt Extension road.
Wildlife values for this site include one bear management area (KA- 24- 021, two traplines (KA- 66, KA - 69) and two ba itfish blocks (Boyle, Guilfoyle Twp.).
5.1 Social/Economic Interest in the Area
a) Linkage to Local Communities
The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve is comprised of 3,488 ha and is located approximately forty-three kilometers north east of Kapuskasing. Sensitivity could be considered relatively high for the esker kame complex with the occurrence of recreational use. However this site has received relatively passive activities (e.g. fishing, hunting, trapping). The six trout stocked lakes within this site have provided an enhanced angling opportunity and will continue to contribute to the overall recreational opportunities this site offers. It is anticipated that the impact of human recreational activities within the conservation res erve should be minimal.
Some of the other recreational/commercial activities that the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve represents may include wildlife viewing, photography , canoeing. Hunting, trapping and fishing are long-standing traditional activities and they are also a vital part of the local economy. Economic benefits are seen at local establishments from bear and moose hunting parties as well as fishing enthusiasts, and trapping provides a source of income to local trapline holders.
b) Heritage Estate Contributions
The site contains a provincially significant esker kame complex, which is surrounded by black spruce, white birch and poplar forest communities. Life science significance is unknown, since the site has not been compared with existing or candidate protected areas within its Site District. Life science values associated with the esker kame complex may prove to be provincially significant.
c) First Nations
The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve lies within the of Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (N.A.N) Treaty # 9 Area. The protection of this area as a conservation reserve and the Statement of Conservation Interest are not meant to infringe on the Treaty and Aboriginal Rights of any First Nation in any way. Traditional uses such as hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering will be respected. At the present time, there are no known land claims by First Nations for the area in question.
d) Mining Interests
This conservation reserve has no mining tenure within it. Mining and surface rights have been withdrawn from staking within the conservation reserve boundaries under the Mining Act (RSO 1990 Chapter M.14). Mining will not occur in any regulated protected area.
e) Forest and Fire Management History
The MNR recogn izes fire as an essential process fundamental to the ecological integrity of conservation reserves. In accordance with existing Conservation Reserve Policy and the Forest Fire Management Strategy for Ontario, forest fire protection will be carried out as o n surrounding lands.
Whenever feasible, the MNR fire program will endeavour to use "light on the land" techniques, which do not unduly disturb the landscape, in this conservation reserve. Examples of light on the land techniques may include limiting the use of heavy equipment or limiting the number of trees felled during fire response efforts. Opportunities for prescribed burning to achieve ecological or resource management objectives may be considered. These management objectives will be developed with public consultation prior to any prescribed burning, and reflected in the document that provides management direction for this conservation reserve. Plans for any prescribed burning will be developed in accordance with the MNR Prescribed Burn Planning Manual, and the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Parks and Conserva tion Reserves .
f) Other Government Agencies, Departments or Crown Corporations
Other Government Agencies that may have an interest in the site include the Ministry of Citizenship (MCzP), the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Recreation (MTCR). Although there are no known cultural heritage values present at this time if values were identified in the site the MNR would work with the MCzP to ensure proper protection of any cultural heritage resources. The MNR will also work in conjunction with the MTCR to identify/enhance any potential tourism opportunities, in particular where resource-based tourism (RBT) potential is identified. RBT operations include hunting and fishing as well as eco-tourism opportunities. Proper evaluation will be undertaken where opportunities are identified to ensure consistency with the management policies of this conservation reserve.
5.2 Natural Heritage Stewardship
Life science significance is unknown, since the site has not been compared with existing or candidate protected areas within its Site District. Life science values associated with the esker kame complex may prove to be provincially significant. The site does contains a provincially significant esker kame complex, which is surrounded by black spruce, white birch and poplar forest communities.
5.3 Fisheries and Wildlife
Wildlife values include two trap line areas, one bear management areas and two baitfish areas.
It is not known if any vulnera ble, threatened or endangered species exist on or near the site. Further detailed habitat studies may be warranted.
5.4 Cultural Heritage Stewardship
There are no known cultural heritage values within the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve and no detailed research has been conducted as of this date to document possible cultural heritage values. If archaeological/ cultural resources are discovered within the conservation reserve proposals pertaining to the development/use of these cultura l resources may be screened through direction provided in Conserving a Future For Our Past: Archaeology, Land Use Planning & Development In Ontario (MCzCR 1997).
5.5 Land Use/Current or Past Development
This conservation reserve rest entirely on Crown land and is unencumbered by any land use permits, licences of occupations, leases or mining claims. There is no mining tenure near the site and no mines have been developed on the site in the past.
5.6 Commercial Use
This site includes one bear management area, two traplines and two baitfish blocks.
5.7 Tourism/Recreational Use/Opportunities
The impact of human recreational activities within the bounds of the conservation reserve is also anticipated to have a minimal impact on the site’s ability to maintain its core values over the long-term.
5.8 Client Services
Currently visitor services at the MNR Kapuskasing Area Office, Hearst District Office are limited to responding to inquiries about access, natural heritage features and boundaries. No formal information or interpretive facilities currently exist within the conservation reserve.
Other client services include providing clients with maps, fact sheets and other information gathered on the area, such as the Earth, Life and Recreational Inventory work.
6.0 Management Guidelines
6.1 Management Planning Strategies
The land use intent outlined in the OLL Land Use Strategy (MNR 1999) provides context and direction to land use, resource management, and operational planning activities on Crown land. Commitments identified in the above strategy and current legislation (Policy 3.03.05 PLA ) will form the basis for land use within Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve. Management strategies for these uses must consider the short and long-term objectives for the reserve. For up to date information on permitted uses refer to the Crown Land Use Atlas.
Protected areas will be managed to retain and/or restore natural features, processes and systems. They will also provide opportunities for compatible research, education and outdoor recreation activities (MNR 1997c). Proposed uses and development will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. A Test of Compatibility, (Procedural Guidelines B – Land Uses PL 3.03.05) must be passed before they are deemed acceptable. The emphasis will be on ensuring that the natural values of the conservation reserve are not negatively affected by current and future activities. Therefore any application for new specific uses will be carefully studied and reviewed via the above environmental screening process.
Management strategies will also be consistent with the objectives of increasing public awareness, promoting responsible stewardship, providing marketing opportunities, and identifying inventory, monitoring , and research opportunities .
6.2 "State of the Resource" Management Strategies
The development of this SCI and the long -term management and protection will be under the direction of the MNR’s Kapuskasing Area Office Supervisor, Hearst District . The following section wi ll deal with the management strategies that are specifically laid out to maintain, protect and enhance the existing natural heritage values and land use activities of the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve.
Natural Heritage Values
The management intent for the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve will be to allow for natural ecosystems, processes and features to operate undisturbed with minimal human interference while providing educational, research and recreational activit ies. Forest ecosystem renewal will only be entertained via a separate vegetative management plan.
Forest fire protection will be provided as per fire strategies used on surrounding public lands, under the direction of the provincial fire strategy. All wildfire occurrences will be considered a high priority and will actively be suppressed. Prescribed burning will be conducted only under the direction of the provincial fire strategy and authorized for the conservation reserve under a separate vegetative management plan. Prescribed burning may be utilized if deemed necessary to emulate natural disturbances and renew forest communities, prepare seed beds for research and/or education purposes or to meet additional objectives determined within a separate vegetative management plan. Consideration for the life science values will be the governing priority in any future vegetative management plan.
Defining compatible uses, enforcing regulations and monitoring and mitigating issues will protect all earth and life science features. Industrial activities such as commercial timber harvest and new hydro generation will not be permitted within the conservation reserve. Extraction of unconsolidated sand, gravel, soils or peat is not permitted. Energy transmission, communication and transportation corridors or construction of facilities are discouraged within the boundaries of the conservation reserve. Such structures negatively impact on the quality of representation features that require protection. Alternatives should be reviewed via larger landscape planning processes. New roads for resource extraction and/or private use will not be permitted. Other activities that do not pass a Test of Compatibility will be prohibited (MNR 1997a).
The introduction of exotic and/or invasive species will not be permitted. Programs may be developed to control forest insects and diseases where there is a concern that significant values may be compromised. Remedies must focus on the outbreak or infestation. Native biological or non -intrusive solutions should be applied whenever possible.
The collection/removal of vegetation and parts thereof may be permitted subject to a Test of Compatibility, the Area Supervisor may authorize such activities for purposes of wild rice harvestin g, food harvesting, removing exotic species, rehabilitating degraded sites within the reserve, collecting seeds for maintaining genetic stock and/or for inventory or research. The cutting of trees for non-commercial purposes (e.g. fuel- wood) is not permit ted.
MNR will provide leadership and direction for maintaining the integrity of this site as a heritage estate. To ensure MNR protection objectives are being fully met within the conservation reserve, activities on the surrounding landscape should cons ider the site’s objectives, heritage values and the design flaws currently present. MNR via input and plan review will ensure the conservation reserve’s values are considered in local and adjacent land use strategies and plans. Research, education and int erpretation will be encouraged to provide a better understanding of the management and protection of the natural heritage values and will be fostered through local and regional natural heritage programs, initiatives and partnerships .
Fisheries and Wildlife
Sport fishing and hunting will be permitted within this conservation reserve. Fishery and wildlife resources will continue to be managed in accordance with specific policies and regulations defined by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and the Kapuskasing Area Office Supervisor. Management of these resources will have consideration for the earth and life science features contained within the site.
Cultural Heritage Values
It is not known if cultural heritage values exist in the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve, however, if values are confirmed management would be consistent with Conserving a Future For Our Past: Archaeology, Land Use Planning & Development In Ontario (MCzCR 1997).
Land Use/Past and Existing Development
The sale of lands within the conservation reserve is not permitted as per the OLL LUS (MNR 1999). No new recreational camps will be permitted. Road realignments, telecommunications and other resource networks will be discouraged from crossing the site and interrupting the conservation reserve’s natural state . New roads for resource extraction and/or private use will not be permitted.
Through the Ministry’s plan input and review program, applications for more intense use will be reviewed to ensure natural heritage values within the conservation reserve are considered and protected in planning decisions on adjacent private land.
Any new developments (e.g. tourism developments) proposed for the conservation reserve mu st go through a Test of Compatibility to ensure that the activity is permitted and to ensure the natural heritage values within the site are protected. If a proposal is considered, public consultation may be required. If accepted, an amendment of the SCI would be required.
Commercial, non-industrial activities such as fur harvesting, baitfish harvesting and Bear Management Areas will be managed according to prescriptions in the Land Use Strategy (MNR 1999). Fur harvesting traplines and bait fishing operations will be permitted to continue since there are no demonstrated conflicts between these activities and the values being protected. New operations would be subjected to a Test of Compatibility to ensure that the wildlife populations could sustain additional activity. Existing Bear Management Areas (BMAs) will be permitted to continue, however, new operations will not be permitted as per the Land Use Strategy (MNR 1999). MNR managers will work with operators to ensure that the natural heritage values within the conservation reserve are respected.
Traditional activities and aboriginal rights as defined in the Nishnawbe -Aski Nation (N.A.N) Treaty # 9 Area and other relevant Acts will not be affected within the boundaries of this conservation reserve.
Tourism and Recreation
The earth and life science features and their protection shall be the overall theme for tourism and recreation within the conservation reserve. Future economic or development proposals should go through a Test of Compatibility to ensure the natural heritage features are well protected. Future trail development must consider the values found within the boundaries of the site, the rationale for developing trails within the site and the availability of current access through the site and surrounding areas. Furthermore, any new trail development will require a ‘Test of Compatibility’. Sensitive areas previously discussed should be avoided.
Under the direction of the Kapuskasing Area Supervisor, Hearst District natural heritage staff will respond to public, non-government organizations (NGOs), industry and MNR partner requests for basic information on the site. Such requests could include but are not limited to the following; re gulated boundaries, values, current access and infrastructure, permitted uses, role that The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve plays as a natural heritage estate and within the greater provincial parks and protected area system and any additional information that is required to meet good customer service.
6.3 Promote Inventory Monitoring and Assessment Reporting and Research
Scientific research by qualified individuals or institutions, which contributes to the knowledge of natural and cultural history and to environmental and recreational management, will be encouraged. Research programs will be subject to ministry policies and other legislation.
Approved research activities and facilities will be compatible with the protection objective. Any inventory, monitoring, assessment reporting or research developments or facilities will not be considered until a Test of Compatibility is conducted and proposal is approved by the Kapuskasing Area Supervisor, Hearst District.
To advance conservation reserve custodial management, future managers will need to mo nitor the current state of the conservation reserves resources at least at the community and landscape levels within and adjacent to the conservation reserve and its surrounding environment. Such monitoring could include: evaluating and reporting on changes such as; natural disturbances (i.e. fire, insect/disease, wind throw, etc.), human disturbances (i.e. forest harvesting, access and/or other land use activities) as well as management pres criptions (i.e. rehabilitation efforts and/or vegetative management planning).
Ongoing evaluations and reports will have to rely on current and new technologies such as satellite imagery, global positioning systems (GPS), supplementary aerial photography (SAP) and/or aerial/ground reconnaissance surveys/assessments conducted periodically and placed within a GIS database. Such tools could help managers spatially record affected areas, severity of perturbations or management action as well as consider the sensitivity of values, the design of the CR and determine the future desired condition of the site. Monitoring efficiencies could be enhanced via partnerships and internal coordination within MNR.
6.4 Implementation and Plan Review
Implementation of this SCI will primarily involve monitoring activities to ensure adherence to the management guidelines. Other activities may include funding future life and earth science inventories and responding to inquiries about the site.
Implementation of the SCI and management of the reserve are the responsibility of the Area Supervisor. Partnership may be pursued to address management needs. The Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve SCI will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. If changes in management direction are needed at any time, the significance of the changes will be evaluated. Minor changes, which do not alter the overall protection objectives, may be considered and approved by the Area Supervisor without further public consultation and the plan will be amended accordingly. In assessing major changes, the need for a more detailed Resource Management Plan will first be considered. Where a management plan is not considered necessary or feasible, a major amendment may be considered with public consultation. The Regional Director will approve major amendments.
No active marketing of this conservation reserve is anticipated.
Arnup, R., G.D. Racey and R.E. Whaley. 1999. Training manual for photo interpretation of ecosites in northwestern Ontario. NWST Technical Manual TM- 003.127p.
Bridge, S., R. Watt, G. Lucking and B. Naylor. 2000. Landscape analysis for forest management planning in boreal northeastern Ontario. OMNR, Northeast Science and Technology. 36p.
Crins, W.J., 2000. Ecoregions of Ontario: modifications to Angus Hills’ Site Regions and Site Districts revisions and rationale.
Hills, G.A., 1959. A steady reference to the description of the land of Ontario and its productivity.
Houle, N. and Thompson, J., 1999. Ontario’s Living Legacy Boundary Determination Exercise – Visits to Hearst District.
Kristjansson, R. Interim earth science inventory checklist for Bennet Lake Esker-Kame Complex. Malenfont, C. and M. Silver. 2001. Recreation inventory checklis t for Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Ontario Provincial Parks: planning and management policies – 1992Update
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 1999. Bennet Lake Esker Conservation Reserve – File C1562. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 2002. MNR Districts and Major Basins of Ontario.
Poser, S., 1992. Report on the status of Provincial Parks in the Site Regions and Districts of Ontario. Ministry of Natural Resources Report.
Rowe, J.S., 1972. Forest regions of Canada.
Taylor, K.C., R.W. Arnup, B.G. Merchant, W.J. Parton and J. Nieppola. 2000. A field guide to forest ecosystems of northeastern Ontario. 2nd Edition. Northeast Science and Technology NEST Field Guide F G-001.
Thompson, J., 2001. Aerial Reconnaissance Survey for Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Candidate Conservation Reserve.
Uhlig, P., A. Harris, G. Craig, C. Bowling, B. Chambers, B. Naylor and G. Beemer. 2001. Old growth forest definitions for Ontario. Ont. Ministry of Natura l Resources, Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto. ON. 27p.
Map 1: Inset of Ontario showing location of Kapuskasing ; larger map showing location of the Bennet Lake Esker Kame Complex Conservation Reserve in relation to Kapuskasing.
Map 1b - Landforms
Map 2a – Forest Communities
Map 2b - Stocking
Map 2c – Age Distribution
Map 2d – Standard Forest Unit
Map 5 – Old Growth
Appendix A: Permitted Uses Table
Permitted Uses Table for Conservation Reserves As Per Policy
|Conservation Reserve Policy Permitted?
|Any new facilities are subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor.
|Rock climbing and/or caving is permitted where it does not detrimentally affect the values to be protected.
|Camping is permitted where it does not detrimentally affect the values to be protected.
|Conservation Reserve Policy Permitted?
|Any new hiking trails will be subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor.
|Cross-Country Skiing Trails
|Any new cross-country skiing trails are subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor.
|Cycling/ Mountain Biking Trails
|Any new cycling trails are subject to a "test of compatibility" and Appro val by the Area Supervisor.
|Horse Riding Trails
|Any new horse riding trails are subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor.
|Any new snowmobiling trails are subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor.
|Non-trail snowmobiling is only permitted for the retrieval of game.
|Any new ATV trails are subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor.
|Non-Trail ATV Use
|Non-trail ATV use is only permitted for the retrieval of game.
Science, Education and Heritage Appreciation
|Conservation Reserve Policy Permitted?
|Photography and Painting
|Outdoor Education/ Interpretation
|Collecting may be permitted as part of an authorized research project. The issuance of permits will be considered on a per -site basis.
|Conservation Reserve Policy Permitted?
|Any new food harvesting is subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor".
|Any new commercial fishing is subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor.
|Any new baitfish harvesting operations are subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor. Transfer requests for existing baitfish operations will be considered on an on -going basis subject to a review of potential impacts.
|Any new traplines are subject to a "test of compatibility" an d approval by the Area Supervisor. Transfer requests for existing traplines will be considered on an on-going basis subject to a review of potential impacts.
|Resort – Outpost Camps
|Any new outpost camps/resorts are subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor. Transfer requests for existing outpost camps/resorts will be considered on an on-going basis subject to a review of potential impacts.
|Outifitting – Bear Management
|Transfer requests for existing Bear Management Areas will be considered on an on-going basis subject to a review of potential impacts.
|Wild Rice Harvesting
|Any new wildrice operations will be subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor.
|Conservation Reserve Policy Permitted?
|Featured Species Management
|Any new featured species management is subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor.
|Natural Systems Management
|Any new natural systems management will be subject to a "test of compatibility" and approval by the Area Supervisor.
|Conservation Reserve Policy Permitted?
|Hydro Power Generation
|New communication lines and transmission corridors are discouraged from within conservation reserves but can be considered under unusual circumstances where there are no other viable alternatives and where the line/corridor does not significantly impac t the values the site is trying to protect. Approval from the Area Supervisor is required.
|Resource Access Roads
|Existing roads can continue to be used. Continued use will include maintenance and may include future upgrading. New roads for resource extraction will not be permitted, with the exception of necessary access to existing forest reserves for mineral exploration and development.
|Private Access Roads
|The cutting of trees for non -commercial purposes may be authorized by permit subject to a review of the impact of the values to be protected. This flexibility is only for leaseholders and property owners who do not have road access.
|Extraction of Peat, Soil, Aggregate
|Conservation Reserve Policy Permitted?
|Sale of Crown lands in a conservation reserve is not permitted, except for certain minor dispositions (e.g. sale of road allowance in front of existing cottage, sale of small parcels to provide adequate installation of a septic system) where it does not detrimentally affect the values the area is intended to protect. Renewals of existing leases or land use permits will be permitted. Tourism facilities can apply to upgrade tenure from LUP to lease. Requests for transfer of tenure will be considered on an on-going basis. New leases or land use permits will be allowed for approved activities.
|Private Recreation Camps (Hunt Camps)
|Transfer requests for existing private recreation camps will be considered on an on-going basis subject to a review of potential impacts. Existing private recreation camps may be eligible for enhanced tenure (i.e. lease) but not purchase of land.
Appendix B: SCI Test of Compatibility
From the SCI Test of Compatibility NER Guideline in Planning p rocess for Conservation Reserves Statement of Conservation Interest (SCI) and Resource Management Plans (RMP) Northeast Region Guidelines Version 2.1 September 17. 2001 Appendix 4, page 44.
Test of Compatibility:
1. Conformity to SCI – This is not applicable to evaluating current or new uses that come forward during the SCI planning process. However, the SCI should include a statement that speaks to the required screening of any future use or uses that are not covered in the current
2. Screening Process – proposed uses for the area must be assessed before they are approved. To establish a minimum standard, NER recommends that the Screening Process identified in Section 4.2 of A Class EA for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves be used to screen pro jects and options.
The Screening Criteria from the Class EA (Table 4.1) is further detailed below within the context of SCI planning.
3. Impact Assessment – the Test of Compatibility from the Conservation Reserve Policy PL 03.05 identifies the classes of values and main concepts that need to be considered in determining the impacts of uses on a specific Conservation Reserve. These include:
- Natural heritage
- Research activities
- Current uses
- Area administration
- Accommodating the use outside the CR Socio-economics
- Area accessibility.
The class EA (Table 4.1) presents similar values and concepts under the following considerations:
- Natural environment
- Land use, resource management
- Social, cultural and economic
The above considerations and c lasses of values are meant to assist planning staff in answering the following questions for any potential use:
- Will the new use impact any values within the Conservation Reserve?
- If so how?
- To what degree?
- Is it tolerable?
The new screening process and associated criteria identified in Table 4.1 of the Class EA gives planning staff more direction than the Conservation Reserve Policy 3.03.05. However this section attempts to assist planning staff by providing some direction for further interpreting the criteria to complete a Test of Compatibility for uses within a Conservation Reserve.
The following information for each Conservation Reserve is available and can be used to assess the required criteria:
- Background information and current inventory data
- Current inventory evaluations (e.g. earth, life and recreational check-sheets)
- Future ongoing analysis on the site
Interpretation of Background Information & Current Inventory Data:
Background information files, summaries and other data can be beneficial in determining additional criteria that could be added to or address criteria already mentioned in the EA screening process. Criteria that are linked to habitat needs or specific life or earth science features are often first record during a District’s initial review of a site. Databases such as NRVIS or documents such as Lake Survey files, Site District Reports or Forest Management Plans can identify the location of values and sometimes determine a value’s significance or sensitivities.
Current Inventory Evaluations:
The most current state of the resource for a specific OLL Conservation Reserve will be the earth, life and recreational check-sheet. These documents determine the current earth and life science values, their present state and their significance. The recreational check-sheets determine current recreational features and current and potential recreational activities and feature significance and sensitivity to present and future uses.
For earth and life science check-sheets, five (5) major sections are completed that include; representation and the quality of the representation (e.g. based on condition, diversity and ecological considerations) and special features. These five categories are reflected within the screening criteria presented in Class EA document or could be used to develop additional criteria. Some thoughts concerning the five categories are further discussed below.
Representation within OLL inventoried sites contain the type, number, location and shape of the community based values within the Conservation Reserve. For example the number of different forest cover types, wetland and freshwater communities, earth science features or recreational features defined in recreational check-sheets. The survey determines if the values are totally within the site or if the value straddles the site’s boundary? This section and the significance section of the check-sheet can help you define significant earth or life science features, important wildlife habitat, or record the location and extent of old growth within a site or other features. Representation determines not only specific communities or special features but establishes the core protected areas within the Conservation Reserve, which is a value that has to be protected as well. Finally, any list of screening criteria should mention the affect a potential permitted use may have on the quality of the representation present within the site. The quality of the site’s representation is mentioned in the following three categories below.
Condition is the level of natural and human disturbance that the site has experienced to date. The major natural disturbances in Northeast Region include; burned, blown down, flooded or insect effected stands or areas. Huma n disturbances could include; clear-cut areas, mining related sites, drainage areas, ditches or pits, utility corridors, railways, roads, hiking or ATV trails, assess points, dams, cottages or other facilities on site. Such actions or structures can effect the site negatively by influencing specific special features (e.g. nest sites or wildlife travel corridors) or severing significant communities or the Conservation Reserve’s core protected areas. This section could help interpret the following screening criteria; affect on water quality, specific species or habitat needs or criteria that speak to undisturbed core protected areas. Such core protected areas criteria could include for example - affect a permitted use or potential use has on natural vegetation and habitat through fragmentation or how use could affect easily eroded or sensitive wind blown deposits?
This is a measure of the site’s life and earth science heterogeneity. For earth and life sciences the evaluation is based on the nu mber and variety of natural landscape features and landforms for earth science values and the relative richness and evenness of a site’s life science components. For our life science check-sheet inventory we determine richness by counting the number of vegetative cover types present within a site and evenness as the proportion of each cover type represented within a site. So an OLL site that has many cover types of roughly the same size is more diverse than a site with few cover types or where a site has the same number of cover types but has reduced evenness (e.g. one cover type dominates with the other cover types present but with little area devoted to them). Criteria that speak to all aspects of diversity should be part of any screening process.
This is where we discuss the design of the site, its strengths and weaknesses and potential problems that may arise during planning. Ecological considerations include; size, shape, buffering capacity from adjacent land use activit ies, watershed location and linkage to the larger landscape. Generally speaking the following are some rules of thumb;
- Larger sites are preferred over smaller sites because of their greater potential for ecological diversity and stability.
- Rounder sites a re better than elongated sites for they have more intact core and can buffer adjacent land use activities better than elongated sites.
- Sites that contain headwaters have more control over environmental inputs than sites located down stream.
- Biological boundaries that are linked to larger undisturbed lands are better than cultural boundaries such as roads or railway lines that sever the site from its larger landscape for long periods of time.
Cultural boundaries are preferred over vector boundaries that can divide or fragment core protected areas
So by looking at the size, shape and location of a site with respect to its larger environment, planners may be able to address specific screening criteria. Such screening criteria could include; affect water quality or quantity, affect on fish and wildlife habitat and linkages, affect of drainage, sedimentation and erosion, potential long term planning problems because a site is very small in size or linear in shape, etc.
Of all the data that is collected within a site, the special features section may be the most easily understood values. Generally landscape and habitat values are mentioned under the representation section of the check-sheet with specific values such as; Old Growth, Species at Risk (SAR), colonial birds, moose aquatic feeding areas, raptor nests, etc. are presented within this section. Data are available from FMP’s or NRVIS databases as well as fish and wildlife files and reports and know recreation values available from District staff. The Class EA screening criteria contains a number of these values.
Note: Within the check-sheets be sure to review the significance level , recommendations and associated documentation listed with any particular check-sheet. For more information on check-sheet development see J.E. Thompson, 2001. Life science check -sheets information template. OMNR internal report. 6pp.
Future Ongoing Analysis on the Site:
If during planning specific information is not available to complete impact assessment analysis, then SCI’s should not the information gap and document the need to collect the required information in the future. In addition, future inventory, monitoring, assessment and research within the Conservation Reserve may also help planners and managers deal with future uses and impact assessments.
Appendix C: Statement of Conservation Interest Amendments
1Conifer stands are defined as follows: pure conifer stands contain 100% conifer trees in the canopy; dominant conifer stands contain less than 10% cover of hardwoods in the main canopy and predominant conifer stands contain less than 20% cover of hardwoods in the main canopy. Similarly hardwood stands may contain no conifer in canopy (pure hardwood), less than 10% conifer (dominant hardwood) or less than 20% conifer cover (predominant hardwood) (modified after Taylor et al 2000)
2Mixedwoods are defined as follows: hardwood mixedwoods are stands dominated by hardwoods with less than 30% cover of conifer in the main canopy; similarly conifer mixedwoods contain less than 30% hardwoods in the canopy. Mixedwoods contain approximately equal percentages of conifer and hardwood trees and true mixedwoods contain a 50:50 split between conifers and hardwoods (modified after Taylor et al 2000).