Statement of Conservation Interest for the Tikamaganda Lake Conservation Reserve

September 2001

Approval statement

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

The Statement of Conservation Interest will provide guidance for the management of the conservation reserve. More detailed direction at this time is not anticipated. Should significant facility development be considered or complex issues arise requiring additional studies, a more detailed Conservation Reserve Management Plan will be prepared with additional public consultation.

The public was widely consulted during the preparation of this statement.

Recommended for approval by:
A/District Manager, Wawa District

Approved by:
Regional Director, Northeast Region

1.0 Background

The Tikamaganda (Tik) Lake Conservation Reserve is a forested area characterized by scattered large old white pine, some of which are over 330 years old (OMNR 1991). The Reserve, north of Tikamaganda Lake in Eaket and Beauparlant Townships, is approximately 2000 hectares in area, and is situated in Hill’s site region 4E. It is located in the Algoma Section of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Forest Region, and is surrounded by the Wawa Forest in the Wawa Administrative District.

The site was regulated as a Conservation Reserve in 1997, prior to Lands for Life and Ontario’s Living Legacy, and has been described as the best representation of old growth white pine in site region 4E1.

2.0 Protection targets

Conservation Reserves are a component of Ontario’s natural heritage conservation programmes and are intended to ensure that representative sites within the larger sustainably managed landscape are retained in their natural state. The Tikamaganda Lake Conservation Reserve (TLCR) is being protected primarily for its component of old growth white pine, but will be managed more holistically as an old growth ecosystem. Some low impact activities will be permitted but the rule of thumb for future management will be that natural processes will be permitted to function with minimal human intervention. A complication in this rule of thumb is that some fires will be suppressed if they threaten human life, or lands outside the Reserve. A more complete description of fire management is contained in sections 3.1 and 4.1.1.

2.1 Inventories

Two significant surveys of the Tik Lake old growth site were conducted in the early 1990's. In 1990, Arbex Forestry Consultants conducted field sampling in an area that corresponds closely to the regulated area of the TLCR (OMNR 1991). In 1991, Norm Isles completed a study on old growth red and white pine in Northeastern Ontario which included information from field sampling in the Tik Lake area.

3.0 Site description

The Tikamaganda Lake Conservation Reserve is located in the Algoma Section of the Great Lakes Forest Region. However, this section is more precisely described as part of the transitional forest between the Boreal and Great Lakes/St. Lawrence. Some tolerant species are at the northern portion of their range and often exhibit poor form as a result of environmental factors such as sunscald, frost cracks, killing of buds, and fungal infections facilitated by open wounds. Hard maple is considered to be north of its commercial range in Site District 4E1, but forests in the Tik Lake area have produced some veneer and sawlog quality maple and yellow birch logs.

Although no climatic data is available for the actual Conservation Reserve site, the Algoma Section has the shortest frost free period (100 days) and fewest growing degree-days (1333) in the Great Lakes Forest Region (OMNR, 1998). The proximity to Lake Superior influences the climate, with more abundant snowfall in the area. The moderating influence of Lake Superior apparently is responsible for the range of tolerant hardwoods being extended northward near the lake. Because of the rugged topography, microclimate plays a major role in determining tree species occurrences. South facing slopes can have microclimates that favour vegetation more typical of southern latitudes. Low areas with poor air circulation can be frost pockets and discourage the occurrence and growth of tolerant hardwood species.

Proximity to Lake Superior was thought to affect summer precipitation, but a new weather station just west of Tikamaganda Lake shows that in the last few years the area has been drier than coastal zones, and more typical of inland areas. As more data is available, it will provide a clearer picture of Lake Superior’s effect on summer precipitation and fire hazard.

Topography in the Conservation Reserve is gently rolling to moderately steep. Bedrock consists of early precambrian felsic igneous and metamorphic rock. Soils are of till origin and tend to be shallow on ridge tops, with deeper deposits in lower areas. The soil’s low limestone content favours yellow birch and is detrimental to hard maple.

3.1 Values to be protected

The old growth white pine component is the 'raison d'etre' for the Tik Lake Conservation Reserve, but the site contains a large mixture of species, with white pine scatterred throughout. The forest in the TLCR will be protected from industrial activities, including commercial forestry. However, white pine and other species will not be protected from insects, disease or other natural agents. Fire suppression may be necessary in some circumstances, and fire management is described in more detail in section 4.0.

Fire has not played a major role in the TLCR in recent times (OMNR 1991, Arbex) This in turn means that white pine regeneration is limited, and generally, succession to maple is occurring, because of maple’s ability to regenerate without mineral soil exposure and in shade.

During the Arbex Forestry Consultants field work, Pintail ducks (Anas acuta) were observed.

4.0 Management guidelines

4.1 Natural Resource Stewardship

To best preserve the ecosystem integrity of the site, human intervention should be minimized. In that regard, industrial development of the site is not permitted. Only low impact commercial, recreational, and natural heritage study activities will be permitted.

4.1.1 Fire management

The one significant human intervention that may occur on the site is suppression of fire, including fires of natural origin. In the absence of fire, the white pine component is dropping out, and much of the site is succeeding to hard maple. To address the situation, the Conservation Reserve will be managed with a flexible strategy for fire. The following principles will be considered in future management of the site:

  • Given that the site has escaped fire for a considerable time (ie there is no evidence of recent major fire activity on the site, and no records of fire suppression on the site) and could theoretically continue to escape fire, it will be acceptable for the white pine component to decrease over time
  • Management of a natural fire may occur under specific circumstances where fiscal management and ecological benefits are balanced and weather indices are appropriate. If these conditions are not met then the fire will be suppressed. An example of when natural fire could be managed would be in mid to late autumn with no drought and when suppression resources are adequate to control the fire
  • Prescribed burning will be acceptable since, under the right conditions, it will promote regeneration of white pine. In particular, prescribed burning will be encouraged if it provides research opportunities, or if its purpose is to compensate for a fire that had to be suppressed. The area does have some natural boundaries that would help to contain a prescribed burn
  • When fire suppression activities are required in the Conservation Reserve, "light on the land" techniques will be used

Prescribed burning and management of a natural fire (as described above) will be planned and undertaken with prior consultation from the Sustainable Forest Licence holder of the adjacent Wawa Forest.

4.2 Fish and wildlife management

Except for restrictions on commercial fishing, fish and wildlife management will be similar to adjoining land. Sport fishing and hunting will continue and the Conservation Reserve will continue to be managed for wildlife as part of Wildlife Management Unit 35.

4.3 Commercial and industrial activities

Regulation 805/94 of the Public Lands Act prohibits mining, commercial forest harvest, hydroelectric power development, peat and aggregate extraction, and other industrial activities. Pursuant to provincial policy, new roads within MNR's mandate are prohibited, and new pipelines, hydro transmission lines, and road corridors are discouraged.

The Conservation Reserve is within an existing Bear Management Area (BMA), and the current operation will be permitted to continue. Decisions on transferring these BMAs will be made on a case by case basis subject to the "Test of Compatibility" outlined in Public Lands Procedure PL 3.03.05.

The Reserve is within 2 trapline areas, and current use can continue. There are presently no trap cabins in the Reserve and new trap cabins will not be allowed. Decisions on transferring these traplines will be made on a case-by-case basis, subject to the "Test of Compatibility" outlined in Public Lands Procedure PL 3.03.05.

The area is not currently used for wild rice harvesting or other commercial food harvesting, and these uses will not be permitted in the future. Wild Rice production has a major impact on the host lake, and often involves access trails, docks and other structures.

The Reserve is within two baitfish areas. One, which is comprised of Eaket Township is not currently licenced. The other area, which is comprised of Beauparlant Township, overlaps only slightly with the CR and the portion within the reserve will remain within the licence. If the licence is renewed or transferred, decisions on whether to include the Conservation Reserve portion will be made on a case by case basis subject to the "Test of Compatibility" outlined in Public Lands Procedure PL 3.03.05. Similarly, the Test of Compatibility will be applied in reviewing any request for a baitfish licence in the vacant Eaket block.

Commercial tourism is discussed in Section 4.5.

4.4 Recreation

Consistent with the intent of a Conservation Reserve designation, a wide variety of non-commercial recreation activities will be permitted, including fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing, motorized boating, non-commercial food gathering, camping, and picnicking.

The area presently is not heavily used for snowmobiling, but it is accessible from the Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie TOPS trail. Prohibition of non-trail snowmobiling would prevent the least expensive method of accessing the site, and deter winter fishing, therefore non-trail snowmobiling will be permitted. However, the impact of non-trail snowmobiling on the Tik Lake CR values will be monitored, and restrictions may be considered if necessary.

There are currently no snowmobiling trails in the Tik Lake Conservation Reserve, and none have been proposed. Any future trail proposals will be reviewed for impacts on values, and proposed routes may be modified or prohibited as necessary.

All terrain vehicle (ATV) use typically has a higher impact on soil and vegetation than snowmobile trails. Currently, there is little or no ATV travel in the Reserve, but the activity will be monitored for negative impacts and restrictions put in place as required. Any future proposals for ATV trails within the CR will be reviewed, and only approved if location and operating conditions will not negatively impact site values.

Values to be protected in reviewing future snowmobile and ATV trail proposals include habitat of rare animal species, rare plants, and ground vegetation (in particular white pine regeneration). Trail proposal review may require public consultation and will consider impacts on values outside the reserve.

Informal hiking and cross country skiing, as low impact activities will be permitted and encouraged. Hiking and cross country trail proposals will be subject to review under the Environmental Assessment Act and the "Test of Compatibility" of Public Lands Procedure PL 3.03.05.

4.5 Commercial tourism

Tikamaganda Lake, south of the Conservation Reserve, is designated for remote tourism use in the Wawa District Land Use Guidelines. A commercial remote tourism camp is currently located there. The Conservation Reserve’s proximity could complement the tourism operation, and provide an excellent opportunity for ecotourism and heritage appreciation. As described in the previous section, low impact recreational activities will be permitted in the CR, but proposals for higher impact uses such as ATV trails, will have to reviewed for negative impacts. The site will be monitored, and restrictions on trail location and use will be applied if damage is apparent.

The Conservation Reserve will be available for tourism use by other operators, but it is noted that no lake in the reserve is suitable for landing by fixed wing aircraft.

4.6 Education and heritage interpretation

In the Arbex report, it was noted that the Conservation Reserve appears to be succeeding to maple, and that the pine component, in the absence of fire, is not being rejuvenated. As the Arbex Forestry Consultants noted "In terms of a baseline for the study of late successional old pine communities, the area may be significant" (Arbex). Research and scientific studies will be encouraged, but proposals will be reviewed on a case by case basis to ensure that they will not have significant negative impacts on values in the reserve.

The area lends itself to prescribed burning, and natural fire barriers facilitate containment. The area could be partially burned, or burned in stages. Therefore, the CR is suitable for a research prescribed burn that could promote regeneration to pine.

There are no immediate plans for research in the Conservation Reserve, but the MNR will encourage non-consumptive research. Local forest research centres will be contacted to ensure that they are aware of the availability of the CR for research. Local forest industry companies and the Sustainable Forest Licence holder will also be advised of proposed research activities to identify local concerns, information needs and partnership potentials.

The uniqueness of the area makes it attractive for natural heritage appreciation and ecotourism. These low-impact activities will be encouraged, but currently access is difficult. If forest management access roads are built near the Reserve, it may become practical to conduct educational tours of the area.

5.0 Statement of Environmental Values

The Ministry of Natural Resources is responsible for managing Ontario’s natural resources in accordance with the statutes it administers. As the province’s lead conservation agency, the Ministry is the steward of provincial parks, natural heritage areas, forests, fisheries, wildlife, aggregates, fuel minerals, and crown land and waters that make up 87% of Ontario.

In 1994 the MNR finalized its Statement of Environmental Values (SEV) under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR). The SEV is a document that describes how the purposes of the EBR are to be considered whenever decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the Ministry. During the development of the Tikaamaganda Lake Conservation Reserve Statement of Conservation Interest, the Ministry has considered its Statement of Environmental Values. This document is intended to reflect the direction set out in the SEV and to further the objectives of managing our resources on a sustainable basis.

6.0 Maps

Map 1 Local Setting of Tikimiganda Lake C.R.

Map showing local setting of Tikimiganda Lake Conservation Reserve

Literature cited

O.M.N.R., 1991. Life Science Features of Selected Areas Containing Old White and Red Pine (Site Region 4E – Ontario)

O.M.N.R., 1998. A Silvicultural Guide for the Tolerant Hardwood Forest in Ontario. Ont. Min. Nat. Resour: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Toronto.