Statement of Conservation Interest
English River, Kenora District
July, 1998
Updated April 7, 2011
Next examination due December 31, 2020

Approval statement

I am pleased to approve this Statement of Conservation Interest for the Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve.

This Statement of Conservation Interest provides guidance for the management of the conservation reserve and the basis for the ongoing monitoring activities. More detailed direction at this time is not anticipated. Should significant facility development be considered or complex issues arise requiring additional studies, more defined management direction, or special protection measures, a more detailed Conservation Reserve Management Plan will be prepared with full public consultation.

The public was widely consulted during the original regulation process and further consultation is not required at this time.

The conservation reserve will be managed under the jurisdiction of the Kenora West Area Supervisor, Kenora District, Ministry of Natural Resources.

M.L. Willick
Regional Director
Northwest Region

Examination and adjustment history of management direction

Table of adjustment history of management direction

Dates, outcome and list of supporting documents associated with adjustment history of management direction.
Approval dateExamination or type of adjustmentExamination outcomeList of supporting documents

May 24, 2011


Administrative Update

  • Administrative Update form signed May 24, 2011.
  • Examination Confirmation Statement signed December 9, 2010

1.0 Background information

Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve contributes to achieving the objectives of Ontario’s Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 including ‘to permanently protect representative ecosystems, biodiversity, and provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage’ and ‘to provide opportunities for ecologically sustainable land uses.

The purpose of this document is to identify the natural heritage values of Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve, the activities which occur there and through a set of management guidelines, lay out the activities which will be permitted and not permitted and the direction of management for the area. For more information for the basis of this Statement please refer to the "Conservation Reserves Policy and Procedure PL3.03.05", specifically pages 2–6 and 14–22 of the of the procedure.

Background information

This table provides a summary of the Background information on Big Sand Conservation Reserve
NameBig Sand Conservation Reserve
Site region / Site district4S–1
OMNR administrative region / District / areaNorthwest / Kenora / English River Area
Total area (ha)284
Regulation dateJanuary 7th, 1995
First NationsWabaseemoong Independent Nations; Treaty 3
Latitude / Longitude50 08’ / 94 35’
FRI Stands400,401,398,402,431,399,337,430,432
General location descriptionLocated on the northeast shore of Big Sand Lake, 40 km north of Kenora
AccessThe area is isolated and only accessible by boat or float plane


This section provides a summary of the earth and life science values and cultural resources represented and recreational opportunities available or possible.

Life science representationOld growth red and white pine
One critical landform-vegetation type is represented within Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve.
Earth science representationWeakly broken bedrock; weakly broken ground moraine
Cultural resource representationNo documented cultural resources
Recreational opportunitiesOpportunities exist for wildlife viewing, hunting tourism and sport fishing on adjacent waters

Survey information

This section provides an overview of the inventories completed, their level of detail and any further inventories that are needed.

Survey levelLife scienceEarth scienceCulturalRecreationalOther
ReconnaissanceYes – ground and aerial surveys completed in 1994NoNoNoNo

2.0 Values to be protected

This section provides a description of the key natural heritage values on the site and their condition relative to past resource use and management activities and their sensitivity to future land use and management activities.

Values identified on the site

Key natural heritage values found in Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve
Life scienceOld growth red and white pine community at northern fringe of this forest community’s northern range; core area of 11 ha has 40%–60% red pine 156 years old; other stands contain up to 60% white pine and scattered red pine.
Other notable species recorded in the conservation reserve include Smith’s Club-rush (S3), Vasey’s Rush (S3) and Bald Eagle (Special Concern). Refer to the Life Science Checksheet for a more comprehensive description of life science values within the reserve.
Earth scienceWeakly broken bedrock; weakly broken ground moraine
CulturalNone identified
AboriginalNone identified
TourismNo specific site values; area is located on an active tourism oriented water system, public beach adjacent to the south boundary of the Reserve
Recreational fishingHigh profile recreational fishery in adjacent waters
Recreational huntingUnknown (likely low); part of a bear management area agreement
MiningLow to moderate mineral potential; no significant site concerns (MNDMF, Kenora)
AggregateNone on site
Forest harvestHigh value timber of significant volume; unallocated within Kenora Management Unit FMP and large portion is contained within a shoreline and skyline AOC
Part of a trapline registered to a First Nation Trapper
TrappingPart of a registered trapline to a First Nation Trapper
Commercial fshThe area forms part of a commercial baitfishing block

Values to be protected

The intent of this Statement is to protect these values by establishing management guidelines for existing and potential uses in this area given the level of past disturbance and the nature of the existing features.

Forest values – the forest in the entire area is to be protected (including the old growth component) from any alteration; forest type will naturally maintain itself for at least another 50–100 years. It may be a source for genetic material for northern red and white pine genotypes.

Recreational Values – sport fishing and hunting opportunities.

Tourism Values – the contribution of this unique and highly attractive area to local tourism.

3.0 Management guidelines

The following topics briefly indicate the existing situation followed by the management guidelines to be implemented or continued.

Land tenure

The Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve consists entirely of Crown land; No disposition, by sale or Crown Lease or Land Use Permit, will occur within the reserve. The Water Power Lease which regulates flooding to a specified level will remain in effect. It should be noted that the Water Power Lease does not affect the values being protected.

Existing and proposed development

No development exists in the area; no development will be allowed in the area that would disturb the forest including its understory.

Recreational activities

Sport fishing is allowed in adjacent waters; no sport fishing presently occurs in the area itself (no fishable water).

Sport hunting will continue in the area.

Activities such as snowmobiling and the use of all–terrain vehicles will generally be permitted to continue on existing trails only where they do not adversely affect the values being protected. No new trails will be permitted.

Commercial activities

  • The area forms part of a First Nations Trapline; trapping will continue as a permitted activity
  • The area is presently part of a bear management area; no change is required at this time
  • No other commercial activities exist in the area; no new ones will be permitted ie. road construction, aggregates, utility corridors
  • The area will be permanently removed from the Kenora Management Unit FMP allocation and an examination of the possible impact of activities on adjacent lands should be evaluated in the FMP and any required changes to the FMP made to protect the existing values
  • The area has been withdrawn from all mining exploration and extraction activities by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and Forestry at MNR’s request

Aboriginal interests

The Conservation Reserve is located within the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations Traditional Land Use Area. The First Nation was consulted and did not express concern about the creation of the Reserve; nothing in this Statement of Conservation Interest affects in any way existing or future aboriginal or treaty rights.

Natural resources stewardship

Vegetation management

The area will naturally evolve and should be stable for some 50–100 years.

As this conservation reserve is currently surrounded by high timber values of the Kenora Forest Unit (formerly Kenora Crown Unit), it will remain as part of the MNR’s boreal zone within the Forest Fire Management Strategy for Ontario (OMNR 2004). All fires having the potential to negatively impact values and/or cause social disruption will receive Full Response and sustained action until extinguished.

There is a concern that this strategy may be in conflict with the ecosystem management objective for old growth values (biodiversity, genetic heritage) where low intensity wildfire would contribute to ecological maintenance and renewal within this conservation reserve. However, the small size of this conservation reserve and the extremely high adjacent values rule out allowing a natural fire regime replaces.

Fish and wildlife management

Nothing required other than existing WMU and sport fishing regulation and management activities.


No requirements except continued protection.

Cultural resources stewardship

No requirements at this time based on existing information.

Client services

Make information about this conservation reserve available. Ensure all resource users especially forestry and mining companies, are aware of its location and permitted uses.


Non–destructive research related to the study of old growth white pine communities will be encouraged in this conservation reserve.


No requirements at this time.

4.0 Implementation

These management guidelines will be implemented immediately by Kenora District. Any MNR Resource Management Plans or Land Use Plans which include this area will be amended accordingly. Any affected clients will be immediately informed of amendments to this management direction. Administrative responsibility for the conservation reserve rests with the Planning and Information Management Supervisor. Implementation will primarily involve monitoring activities to ensure adherence to the management guidelines.

5.0 Review and revisions

Review and revisions

Methods of reviewing management direction will be consistent with the Protected Areas Planning Manual (OMNR 2009) and its associated guidelines. In accordance with the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006, MNR will annually examine management direction documents that have been in place for ten years or more. The next scheduled examination for Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve will be in 2020.

Public consultation

Results of past consultation

Under the previous Keep It Wild Initiative, contact was made with First Nations, the timber companies and local communities in June, 1994. Newspaper advertisements and a district information package was distributed in August, 1994. No concerns were identified with respect to the establishment of this reserve.

Present and future consultation

More widespread consultation is not deemed necessary at this time because of the extensive consultation which occurred in 1994 (see section 5.2.1).

6.0 Author

This Statement of Conservation Interest was prepared by Gerry Wells, Senior Lands and Waters Technician, Kenora District.

7.0 References

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 1997. Conservation Reserves Policy and Procedure. PL3.03.05. Ministry of Natural Resources. Conservation Reserves Policy and Procedure. PL 3.03.05. 1997

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2004. Forest Fire Management Strategy for Ontario.

Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto. 64 pp.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2009. Ontario Protected Areas Planning Manual. Peterborough. Queen’s Printer for Ontario. 50 pp.

Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act. 2006. Toronto. 44 pp. [online]

Figure 1: Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve Regional Setting

Map showing the location of Big Sand Lake Convservation Reserve ub relation to the surrounding region

Figure 2: Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve Boundary

Map showing the boundaries for Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve

Enlarge Figure 2: Big Sand Lake Conservation Reserve Boundary