South Michipicoten River-Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve Management Statement
This document provides policy direction for the protection, development and management of the South Michipicoten River-Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve and its resources.
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Statement of Conservation Interest
Prepared by: Tom Kenerknecht
I am pleased to approve this Statement of Conservation Interest (SCI) for the South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve (C1517).
Direction for establishing, planning and managing Conservation Reserves is provided by the Public Lands Act and current policy. Policy PL 3.03.05 states that "Ontario’s network of natural heritage areas has been established to protect and conserve areas representative of the diversity of the natural regions of the province, including species, habitats, features and ecological systems which comprise that natural diversity".
This SCI will provide guidance for the management of the Conservation Reserve and the basis for the ongoing monitoring of activities. More detailed direction at this time is not anticipated. Should significant facility development be considered or complex issues arise requiring more defined management direction, a more detailed Resource Management Plan will be prepared with full public consultation.
This document was prepared with input from Wawa District staff, other ministries, and the public. A draft plan was provided to the MNR Northeast Region planning unit for review.
The public was consulted on potential boundary refinement prior to the CR being regulated. During plan preparation the general public had an opportunity to review and comment on proposals in the draft plan before plan approval. Technical and scientific advice and expertise was obtained as required throughout the planning process.
The Conservation Reserve will be managed under the jurisdiction of the Wawa Area Supervisor of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Wawa District.
Tom Kenerknecht, R.P.F.
Original signed by
District Manager Recommendation for approval
Date: February 25, 2005
Original signed by Rob Galloway
Regional Director, Northeast Region
Date: April 10, 2005
As reflected in its Statement of Environmental Values, key objectives of the Ministry of Natural Resources include ensuring the long term health of ecosystems, protecting natural heritage and biological features of provincial significance, and leaving future generations a legacy of the natural wealth that we still enjoy today.
A key strategy in achieving these objectives is the establishment and management of a network of protected areas that reflect the spectrum of the province’s natural diversity.
The purpose of this Statement of Conservation Interest (SCI) is to manage the South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve in accordance with these objectives. Specifically, the SCI describes the site and its main natural and cultural features, and outlines future management to protect and/or restore its resources. Potential uses and activities of the reserve are discussed and restrictions on uses and activities are prescribed if and when appropriate.
The planning area for this SCI is the regulated boundary of the Conservation Reserve (CR) as shown on map 1. However, in a larger context, the Reserve cannot be managed in isolation. For example, it will influence and be influenced by the surrounding lands and waters. Similarly, as part of the larger parks and protected areas system, it will contribute to the achievement of provincial, national and international targets, while at the same time being influenced by provincial legislation and policies.
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline CR is located in the Wawa District of the Ministry of Natural Resources' Northeast Region. It borders the Corporation of the Township of Michipicoten, and is approximately 3 kilometres east of the Michipicoten First Nation.
This protected area links 2 existing provincial parks: Lake Superior to the south, and Michipicoten Post to the northwest.
2.0 goals and objectives
2.1 Goals of Conservation Reserves
The goal of Conservation Reserves is to protect natural heritage and cultural values on public lands while permitting compatible land use activities.
2.2 Objectives of Statement of Conservation Interest
2.2.1 Short term objectives
The short term objectives are:
- To identify the state of the resource with respect to natural heritage values and current land use activities for the Conservation Reserve
- To manage the Conservation Reserve to protect the integrity of its natural values via specific guidelines, strategies and prescriptions detailed in this plan
2.2.2 Long term objectives
The long term objectives are:
- To establish representation targets (eg future forest conditions) and validate the site as a potential scientific benchmark
- To identify research/client services, and marketing strategies
- To give direction to evaluate future new uses or economic ventures
3.0 management planning
3.1 Planning context
3.1.1 Planning area
The planning area is defined as the regulated boundary of the Conservation Reserve as illustrated on map 1.
For purposes of management planning for other land uses, particularly for Forest Management Planning, the boundary of the Conservation Reserve itself will not be treated as a 'value'. However, specific values or features near or along the boundary may need to be addressed in other planning documents to ensure their protection or enhancement.
3.1.2 Management planing context
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline CR was recommended as a Conservation Reserve in the 1999 Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy, and was identified as Land Use Area C1517. The site is being formally regulated under the Public Lands Act. Upon regulation, Ontario Regulation 805/94 will apply, and mining, commercial forest harvest, hydro electric power development (see next paragraph for qualification), the extraction of aggregate and peat, and other industrial activities were legally prohibited.
The site’s status as a Living Legacy Conservation Reserve subjects the site to certain policies for new Conservation Reserves as outlined in Table 3 of the Ontario’s Living Legacy (OLL) Land Use Strategy. For clarification, the prohibition on hydro does not apply to repair and maintenance of the existing hydro development, and the MNR recognizes that water levels (and thus the boundary of the Reserve) will fluctuate in accordance with an approved Water Management Plan.
Provincial policies for Conservation Reserves also apply to the South Michipicoten – Superior Shoreline CR. Management Direction, including permitted uses, from the above and other sources, is summarized in the Ministry of Natural Resources Crown Land Use Atlas at /page/crown-land-use-policy-atlas.
Consistent with policy, new and future uses of the Conservation Reserve must be considered via a Test of Compatibility. Certain uses or activities may also be subject to Environmental Assessment Requirements.
3.2 Planning process
During the preparation of Lands for Life and Ontario’s Living Legacy strategies, the Boreal East Roundtable did not recommend the site as a protected area in any of the 5 options of the Preliminary Land Use Options in March 1998. Similarly, in the July 1998, Draft Land Use Planning Recommendations for the Boreal East Planning Area the Roundtable did not recommend a protected area in the area. In March, 1999, the Ontario’s Living Legacy Proposed Land Use Strategy did recommend the site as part of the proposed Lake Superior Highlands Conservation Reserve, C1519. The site was again recommended as a Conservation Reserve in the approved Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy in July 1999. In the final OLL strategy however, the site had been extracted from the Lake Superior Highlands, and became a separate recommended CR, C1517.
In late 1999 and early 2000, a public consultation process provided First Nations, industry and the general public to recommend refinements of the proposed boundary. No comments on the boundary were provided and the site was regulated in December 2002.
This Statement of Conservation Interest for the South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline is a Basic Statement of Conservation Interest. Because no contentious issues are expected to be addressed in the document, an Enhanced SCI or Resource Management Plan was not considered to be warranted. The public will be provided with an opportunity to comment on the recommendations in the draft SCI before plan approval.
The SCI does not propose new policy, and is therefore considered a custodial document. Consequently, an Environmental Bill of Rights Registry Proposal File will not be posted on the Environmental Registry.
The plan will be a working document, and amended if and when appropriate. Major decisions will be made with full public involvement opportunities.
4.0 background information
4.1 Location and site description
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline borders the Corporation of the Township of Michipicoten, and is approximately 3 kilometres east of the Michipicoten First Nation. It is in the Territorial District of Algoma, and most of the CR is in Rabazo Township, with small sections in Dulhut and Rabazo Townships.
The Reserve is within the Wawa Area of the Ministry of Natural Resources' Wawa District in the Northeast Region.
Map 1 shows the boundaries of the CR, and its regional setting.
4.1.2 Site description
188.8.131.52 Physical description
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve is in the Algoma section in the northern extremity, (transitional zone) of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Forest Region, (Rowe, 1972) but exhibits species composition more characteristic of the Boreal Forest Region just to the north. Yellow birch is the only non- boreal forest species that occurs in significant amounts, sometimes with a small component of white pine. White birch is by far the dominant species in the Reserve, and most of it is overmature.
During the late 1970's and early 1980's, a severe spruce budworm epidemic devastated dominant and co-dominant white spruce and balsam fir, resulting in significant mortality. White birch dieback in the 1980's was quite evident, also resulting in significant mortality.
Topography in the Reserve is quite rugged, and the northeast orientation of relief is quite evident, resulting in many linear lakes in a northeast direction. The CR is immediately underlain by areas of Bedrock-Drift Complex (Unit 2a), Glaciolacustrine Deposits (Unit 6a), Alluvial Deposits (Unit 8), and Organic Deposits (Unit 9). Terraces are associated with the glaciolacustrine and alluvial deposits, and are of at least regional significance. (Kristjansson and Kor, 2004).
The CR was originally in Site District 4E1 (Foleyet) as defined by Hills in 1959. However, with reconfiguration by Crins and Uhlig (2000), the CR is found mainly in the Tip Top Mountain ecodistrict 3E4. The southeast corner is within the Michipicoten 4E1 ecodistrict of the Lake Temagami (4E) ecoregion. The forest climate type is mid-humid mid boreal. The influence of Lake Superior moderates climate compared to inland areas, but the relatively high elevation of the eastern section of the Reserve has a cooling influence. Winter snow cover in the CR is heavy, and fog is relatively common, especially in the Michipicoten Valley.
4.2 Administrative description
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve is under the administration of the Ministry of Natural Resources Wawa District in the Northeast Region.
The Reserve is in the Algoma Forest, held by Clergue Forest Management Inc. under Sustainable Forest Licence 542257.
The site is within the Robinson Superior Treaty Area, signed in 1850 by Michipicoten Ojibway Chief Totomenai and the crown’s negotiator William Robinson.
4.3 History of the site
The details of Native occupation in the area remain uncertain, but some information is available. Between 8000 B.C. and 7000 B.C., the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet exposed the lands in the area. It is not known precisely when humans first occupied the newly exposed lands in what is now the South Michipicoten – Superior Shoreline CR area, but by approximately 5500 B.C. Shield Archaic people lived in the general region (Harris 1987).
By as early as 1165 B.C., there were four settlement areas on the Lake Superior coast just west of what is now the CR: one at Michipicoten Harbour, and three separate sites at the confluence of the Magpie and Michipicoten Rivers (Michipicoten Heritage Committee, 1992). These sites existed until 1894 A.D. when the Michipicoten people, and the original Indian Reserve at Michipicoten Harbour were displaced to the present Gros Cap Indian Reserve. Being located at the confluence of two major travel routes (the Michipicoten/Missanabie route to James Bay, and the Great Lakes route), the Michipicoten people had widespread contact and trade.
The expansion of the fur trade industry had a major influence on the local area and its native inhabitants. From at least 1725 until 1904, trading posts were operated at Michipicoten. (Macleod et al, 1972). The posts, at the confluence of two major trade routes, were important in the war between rivalling fur companies. By 1821, the Hudson’s Bay Company had achieved control of the fur trade in the Michipicoten area.
A major impact on the area was the emergence of the mining industry in the late 1800's. In 1897, a brief gold rush began with the discovery of gold in the Wawa area. The gold boom waned by the early 20th century, but a more lasting impact came from the discovery of a major iron ore body in 1898, and the development of the Helen Mine. Mining activity in the area boomed and waned throughout the 20th century, and presently the area surrounding the Reserve contains numerous mining claims, leases and patents.
The Michipicoten River has been developed for hydro production, and the first dam on the river was constructed in 1904-1907 to supply local mines. This dam was located at High Falls just upstream of the Conservation Reserve.
Logging occurred along the Michipicoten River in the 1920's, and in the 1995-2000 period, 391 hectares were harvested.
The following table summarizes inventories and surveys conducted in the Conservation Reserve.
|Survey Level||Earth Science||Life Science||Cultural||Recreational|
|Reconnaissance||Draft checksheet completed||Final Checksheet completed||Algoma Cultural Heritage Sites and Native Values Maps (updated to 2005)||Final checksheet completed|
5.0 State of the resource
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve was recommended for protected area status largely because of its geological values. These values remain largely undisturbed, with perhaps the biggest impact being from the construction of the Trans Canada Highway, which bisects the CR.
The forest cover, dominated by species typical of the Boreal Forest Region, especially white birch, has not been logged heavily in the past, largely because of rough terrain, and also because of the lack of markets for white birch. During the 1995-2000 period, 391 hectares were logged in what is now the CR.
Forest fires have been actively suppressed in the area. Fire data is available since 1963, and the only fire to occur since then broke out in 1988 and was extinguished at 3 hectares.
Soils in the area tend to be acidic, and the low levels of free carbonates provide little buffering capacity to acidic precipitation.
The southern boundary of the Reserve is Lake Superior Provincial Park, and the northern boundary is the Michipicoten River. Most of the remaining boundaries of the Conservation Reserve are vectored boundaries. Many of these vectored boundaries, especially on the western side, are necessary because of adjacent mining tenure. Mineral development activities near or adjacent to the CR could have significant impacts especially if a new mine is developed.
No known vulnerable, threatened or endangered species are known to exist on the site.
In summary, the Conservation Reserve’s values, especially the geological values, remain largely free from human disturbance, and thus its representation value has not been severely compromised. Mining activity near or adjacent to the CR's boundaries presents a potential future concern to values in or near the boundary.
The current forest resource inventory (FRI) shows 16 different forest units in the Conservation Reserve. The landform units however have not yet been entirely interpreted however, and thus the number landform:vegetation combinations is not available.
The diversity of tree species is low, largely because of the preponderance of white birch. On the other hand, the site’s location in the transitional zone between the Boreal and Great Lakes St. Lawrence Forest Regions, and the presence of yellow birch, add diversity.
Age diversity of the CR's forest is relatively high, possibly as a result of how long some sections have escaped stand replacing disturbances such as fire. Interestingly, the 1985 FRI showed white birch stands in excess of 150 years. In the current FRI, these stands are now typed as much younger (eg 60 year old) birch even though they have not been harvested or burned. This may have been the result of incorrect typing in either inventory, or may represent interesting stand dynamics in the absence of fire.
Stocking levels of the forest also vary significantly. The rugged topography results in shallow soils in some areas, and the death of the main canopy with age can open up stands.
The climate of the CR, or more precisely, the range in microclimates, is quite varied, largely as a result of fairly dramatic changes in elevation. The effect of Lake Superior provides a cooling effect in summer, and a warming effect in winter. Local snow squalls off Lake Superior result in very heavy snow cover, and the moist cool air from the lake often causes fog, especially along the Michipicoten River.
The diversity of non-tree plant species is not known, but the variability of microsites, and the CR's location in the transitional zone between 2 forest regions suggests the possibility that overall plant diversity may not be as low as the diversity of tree species. For example, plant inventories of the Superior Coast in nearby provincial parks, and current studies in the Lake Superior Highlands show an interesting array of locally or regionally rare plants.
5.1 Social/economic interest in area
The Michipicoten River has been developed for hydroelectric power since the early 1900's and Great Lakes Power Ltd operates 4 dams on the river, with the Scott Falls dam being located just outside the eastern boundary.
The section of the Michipicoten River within the CR is a popular angling and recreation area for tourists and local residents. Eagles are abundant on the river in autumn and provide an excellent viewing and photography opportunity.
The Reserve is in a mineral development area, and several mines have been located north of the CR in the Wawa area. Prospecting and advanced exploration continue outside the Conservation Reserve, and given the numerous mining claims and patents near or adjacent to the site, new mines could be developed.
The Michipicoten River, which forms the north border of the Reserve is a category B canoe route (Wawa District, not provincial classification), although the hydro development has impacted the river. Another route starts (and ends, since it forms a loop) at Fenton Lake in adjoining Lake Superior Provincial Park, and travels through Treeby Lake, Junction Lake, Underhill Lake, Yanni Lake, and Shakwa Lake. Of the 11 portages, three are within the Conservation Reserve.
The Michipicoten First Nation is located about 3 kilometres west of the Conservation Reserve. Aboriginal and Treaty Rights cannot be infringed upon by the regulation or the management of the Conservation Reserve. Values and sensitive sites have been identified by the Michipicoten First Nation. These values are on file at the Wawa District Office, and will be respected in management of the site. These values will not be made public without the consent of the First Nation, and thus do not appear in this document.
The Reserve is within a Bear Management Area, 2 traplines, and 2 baitfish licence areas. These activities will be permitted to continue. A large portion of the CR is not within a Bear Management Area, and new operations can be considered subject to the test of compatibility in Appendix 1.
5.2 Natural Heritage Stewardship
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve has not been drastically impacted by human activity. Much of the forest in the Reserve has been bypassed by logging, largely because of difficult topography and lack of markets for white birch.
During the late 1970's a severe spruce budworm epidemic caused widespread mortality of white spruce and balsam fir. In the 1980's, birch dieback was very noticeable along Highway 17, and significant mortality was observed.
The rugged topography of the area is reflected in the condition of the forest. Slow growth (ie low site class) is common on shallow soils, and stocking levels are low in many stands.
Much of the forest has become overmature, and exhibits many characteristics typical of old-growth forests such as declining productivity, increased evidence of decay, and stand openings large enough to be filling in with shade intolerant species. The 1985 Forest Resource Inventory showed numerous very old stands, many of which have been reclassified as being much younger. This may be a result of different types of inventories (for example, use of remote sensing and modelling assumptions to estimate ages rather than ground sampling) or it may result from younger white birch establishing itself in openings from low stocking or death of dominant trees.
Water quality in the Michipicoten River is good, and excellent fish habitat exists in the river. The River downstream of the CR is not used as a source of drinking water. There are no major sources of contamination in the Michipicoten River or other waterbodies in the Reserve. Hydro dams upstream of the Conservation Reserve regulate water levels in accordance with Water Power Lease Agreements. A water management plan currently under development will determine future levels and flows.
The CR is within the tertiary watershed 2BD of the Lake Superior major basin (MNR, 2004)
5.3 Fisheries and wildlife
The Michipicoten River contains rainbow trout, pink salmon, coho and Chinook salmon, brown trout, and lake trout. The river is known to be a spawning area for salmon, and schools of fish were observed during an aerial reconnaissance survey. The Lake Management Plan for Lake Superior recommends the rehabilitation of sturgeon and walleye habitat in the Michipicoten River.
Lakes in the Conservation Reserve provide popular angling areas. Splake is common to most of the larger lakes, most of which are accessible by road, trail, or snowmobile (in many cases a short hike from the nearest road or trail is necessary). Other popular game fish known to be present in inland lakes are walleye, yellow perch, and northern pike.
Hilltop Lake has been stocked with lake trout; Bridget and Nezwa Lakes with splake; and Crozier Lake with brook trout and walleye. The emphasis on future stocking will be to maintain or establish self-reproducing populations of native species. "Put and take" stocking, and stocking with hybrids of native species (eg splake) will be considered subject to screening under the Environmental Assessment Act, and the test of compatibility. The introduction of non-native species will not be permitted.
In the fall, eagles are common on the Michipicoten River.
Plant inventories in nearby Lake Superior and Michipicoten Post Provincial Parks have shown that the Lake Superior Coast is a unique ecosystem owing to the effects of Lake Superior. Plants that are rare to the area, such as apparent arctic relicts, have been identified.
There is a small herd of caribou along the Lake Superior coast in the Pukaskwa National Park and Lake Superior Highlands Conservation Reserve area. Caribou have been observed travelling through the Wawa area and across the Michipicoten River. Another small herd exists in the Gargantua area of Lake Superior Provincial Park. The establishment of the South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline CR contributes to protected areas connectivity and facilitates caribou movement between these herds. This could be of considerable importance in caribou management and efforts to connect the two herds reproductively.
Apart from the features noted above, fish and wildlife resources in the Reserve should be typical of surrounding areas.
There is no known habitat of vulnerable, threatened or endangered species in the area.
5.4 Cultural Heritage Stewardship
The Michipicoten River has been used as a major travel route by local aboriginal people for centuries and probably millennia, and part of their oral history has been handed down to present generations. The Michipicoten First Nation has provided the MNR with some values to be protected in management plans, but, to maintain confidentiality, these values will not be identified in this Statement of Conservation Interest.
The Wawa area became an important mining area in the early 1900's but the operating mines were north of the CR.
No archaeological remains have been identified in the site. At the present time, no development is being proposed in the Reserve, but any future proposal that involves land clearing or other potential disturbance of values will be subject to a cultural heritage screening process and also a review by the Michipicoten First Nation.
5.5 Land use – current and past development
Despite its rugged topography, much of the South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve has been logged. Forests along the Michipicoten River were logged in the first decades of the 20th century, and timber was driven down the Michipicoten River to Lake Superior, and then towed to mills in Sault Ste. Marie. (Michipicoten Heritage Committee, 1992). In the modern era of road based logging a small area was harvested near Highway 17.
As described in previous sections, Wawa has been the hub of mining activity since the turn of the 20th century. Mines have not been located in the CR, but mineral exploration in the area is ongoing. Numerous mining claims and patents are near or adjacent to the boundary, and much of the southern boundary of the Reserve borders on areas of mining tenure.
No aggregate pits exist in the CR, but a Ministry of Transportation (MTO) pit and an inactive MTO pit exist adjacent to its boundaries.
In 1960, the Trans-Canada Highway was extended to the Wawa area. The highway right of way is excluded from the Reserve and thus it bisects the CR.
Lands in the Conservation Reserve are not eligible for purchase.
Snowmobile trails, including formal trails managed by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and informal local trails are located at or near the northern boundary, near the western boundary and in the south of the CR. A hiking trail maintained by the Voyageur Trail Association is located near the shore of Lake Superior.
5.6 Commercial use
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve is located within two trapline areas, WA-64 and WA-75. Since annual returns are for the entire traplines, it is not possible to say how active the portions within the CR are. Existing use will be permitted to continue unless there are significant demonstrated conflicts, and new operations can be considered subject to the test of compatibility. The impact of new trails will be considered and trail locations must avoid sensitive areas such as unstable soils or sensitive geological values.
The CR also overlaps two Bear Management Areas. The amount of hunting in the Reserve is not documented. The existing operations will be allowed to continue, but new operations will not be permitted.
One baitfish licence is contained in the Reserve. Existing operations can continue and new operations can be considered subject to the test of compatibility.
There is no commercial fishing or commercial wild rice harvesting in the Reserve, and no new operations will be permitted.
The commercial harvesting of Canada Yew (taxus canadensis) and other vegetation will not be permitted.
5.7 Tourism and recreation – use and potential
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve is a popular angling area. The river itself contains rainbow, brown, and lake trout and pink, Chinook and coho salmon. Inland lakes contain splake, walleye, pike and yellow perch. Many of the larger inland lakes are accessed from roads, hiking and snowmobile trails, although often a hike from the nearest accessible point is involved.
Lake Superior contains a wide variety of fish species including lake trout, Chinook salmon, rainbow trout and speckled trout. Coastal areas of the CR can be accessed from the Voyageur trail, maintained by the Voyageur Trail Association.
The Voyageur Trail is located near the Lake Superior Coast, and links with Lake Superior Provincial Park’s Coastal Hiking Trail at the south end, and Michipicoten Post Provincial Park at the north end.
The Michipicoten River is a Category B canoe route (as per Wawa District, not provincial, classification). It provides local canoeing opportunities and is part of a larger, historic route to James Bay.
5.8 Client services
It is not anticipated that any client services will be provided on-site. However, nearby park visitor centres, stores, and tourism information centres could provide information on the CR's features.
The private sector could elect to provide client services, but recreational use is fairly informal and straightforward (eg fishing, hiking,) and does not lend itself to provision of services.
6.0 Management guidelines
6.1 Management planning strategies
The management of the South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve is under direction provided by the Public Lands Act. Regulation 805/94. The CR was designated under this legislation, with the purpose of "protecting natural heritage areas and features on public land and preserving traditional land uses including wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing, walking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and boating".
Strategic direction for the management of Conservation Reserves was provided by the Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy and this strategic direction has been consolidated in the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas at the following link: /page/crown-land-use-policy-atlas
MNR policy PL 3.03.05 and procedure PL 3.03.05 provide direction for the management of Conservation Reserves. The procedure also requires, and provides direction for the preparation of either Resource Management Plans or Statements of Conservation Interest for CRs. The test of compatiblility, referred to in previous sections, is contained in the procedure. The test of compatibility will ensure that proposed discretionary activities and uses in the CR are reviewed on a case by case basis with emphasis on ensuring that the values in the Reserve are protected.
As of January 10, 2005, the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves, will apply to various undertakings in Conservation Reserves (in some cases other EA processes will apply). The EA provides a decision making process that will ensure that undertakings and projects have minimal effect on the physical and social environment.
6.2 State of the resource management strategies
The management of Conservation Reserves emphasizes the protection, maintenance, and enhancement of natural heritage values and compatible uses and activities.
A key physical feature of the site is its geology, and the main impact has been localized disturbance from the construction of the Trans Canada Highway.
The forests in the CR are essentially Boreal in nature despite the CR's location in the transition zone with the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Forest Region. To offset the effects of fire suppression it would be beneficial to either allow a "let burn" fire management approach, or duplicate wildfire with prescribed burning. However, consistent with policy, fire suppression will be carried out as on surrounding lands, and generally fires will be extinguished to protect human lives, property, and other values. On the other hand, whenever feasible, prescribed burning will be considered.
Generally, it is recommended that fire suppression in the Reserve uses a 'light on the land approach' in which the felling of large trees and the use of heavy equipment is avoided unless necessary
Fish and wildlife management in the CR will be carried out as elsewhere on Wildlife Management Unit 32. The priority for stocking of native fish species in the Michipicoten River system, both within or outside the Reserve, will be for the maintenance or re-establishment of a self sustaining population only. "Put and take' stocking of native species or hybrids will be considered in the Reserve, but not the introduction of non-native species or non-native hybrids.
Apart from the hydro development, there is no existing development on the Reserve, and none is planned or even anticipated.
Client services are provided by sources outside the CR, and, especially given the site’s informal recreational use, easy access and proximity to communities, none are particularly required.
Existing commercial uses of the site include 2 Bear Management Areas and 2 traplines. These operations will be permitted to continue, and new operations can be considered subject to the test of compatibility. There is no commercial fishing in the CR, and although new operations are permitted, they are unlikely. There are currently no baitfish licences in the Reserve, but new operations can be considered subject to the test of compatibility.
The collection of plants, including Canada Yew, will not be permitted. An exception is that berries may be hand-picked.
The collection of vegetation for research purposes may be authorized by the Wawa Area Supervisor if such collection is necessary (ie the research cannot be carried out outside the CR) and has minimal impact on values as demonstrated by the test of compatiblility.
Recently logged areas in the Reserve are regenerating and artificial reforestation or revegetation is not appropriate. Except that fires will normally be suppressed in and near the Reserve, the CR will be allowed to recover without interference from humankind. Fire management of the Reserve will be similar to fire management on surrounding lands except that where practical, "light on the land" techniques will be used. For example, the felling of live trees and the use of heavy equipment will be minimized during suppression. Prescribed burns for ecological purposes, including habitat management will be permitted.
The suppression of native insects or disease will not be permitted. Invasive non-native species may require control and this control will generally be through the most ecologically benign methods, and will be subject to the test of compatibility and other planning requirements.
The previous paragraphs, and other relevant sections of the SCI, illustrate a passive approach to management. Development is generally not permitted, and this protects sensitive features. Some low impact commercial and recreational activities are permitted, but these will be monitored, and when necessary, modified or prohibited.
The proximity of the Conservation Reserve and other protected areas to the town of Wawa and the Michipicoten First Nation may complement tourism marketing by these local communities. It will provide another feature or destination for attracting tourists, but the site is not appropriate for campgrounds, interpretive centres, and other large developments or infrastructure.
6.3 Specific feature/area/zone management strategies
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve has not been stratified into separate areas or zones.
6.4 Monitoring, assessment and research
The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline Conservation Reserve will be managed largely under a 'hands-off' approach, reflecting its relatively undisturbed condition. Generally, the values in the CR are fairly durable, and do not require frequent inspections of their condition. The few sensitive values such as the terrace forms, will be informally monitored to ensure that activities such as unauthorized ATV travel, do not damage sensitive scarp crests and scarp faces.
The site’s value as an ecological benchmark is enhanced by the relative lack of human intervention. Timber harvesting and artificial renewal in some sections, and the suppression of nearby forest fires that may have burned the CR are the major human impacts on the Reserve.
The location of the CR at the northern extremity of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Forest Region also provides an interesting opportunity for further study, as does its proximity to Lake Superior.
There are no representation targets or desired future condition for the Reserve. The management intent is basically to let nature take its course, and to minimize the impacts of human disturbance of the site. Prescribed burning will be very desirable in that regard, especially if and when fire suppression in or near the Conservation Reserve is considered to have created an unnatural or very atypical condition.
One notable feature that warrants further study is the high potential for rare plants in the coastal area of the CR. Plant inventories in nearby Michipicoten Post and Lake Superior Provincial Parks have identified numerous locally and regionally rare species resulting from the climatic effects of the world’s largest lake. The South Michipicoten River – Superior Shoreline CR could be included in future plant inventories of protected areas along the coast.
6.5 Implementation and plan review strategies
There is no formal timeline for the review of this Statement of Conservation Interest. If and when required, the SCI will be reviewed and amended. Major amendments will require the involvement of the public.
The area is easily accessed, well used, and very close to the Wawa District office and thus informal monitoring will be adequate. Priorities for informal monitoring include the identification of previously unknown values.
Compliance monitoring and enforcement in the CR will continue and help to ensure that prohibited activities do not take place.
6.6 Marketing strategies
Most of the tourism and recreation use in the Reserve is fairly casual and of low intensity. (eg. angling, hiking, viewing), and there are no plans for major recreational development or facilities. Thus, the current informal marketing of the area by local businesses is probably appropriate for the foreseeable future. The site can also be promoted at tourist information centres and provincial park visitor centres.
Harris, R.C., 1987; Historical Atlas of Canada, Volume 1. University of Toronto Press. Plates 6,7, and 8
MacLeod, D, 1972; Michipicoten: Its Historical Importance. Ontario Parks (internal document) p1.
Michipicoten Heritage Committee, 1992; Michipicoten Memories, Wawa, Ontario.