Creation of the Amethyst Highlands Fish and Wildlife Enhanced Management Area

ERO number
013-4408
Notice type
Policy
Act
Public Lands Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
March 21, 2019 - May 6, 2019 (46 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
March 21, 2019
to May 6, 2019

Decision summary

We have approved the Amethyst Highlands Fish and Wildlife Enhanced Management Area.

Decision details

A decision was made on October 14, 2020 to proceed with the proposal as described with minor changes described below.

The new Amethyst Highlands Fish and Wildlife Enhanced Management Area (EMA) was created from portions of two General Use Areas (G2622 Spruce-Current and G2625 Rural Areas). The total area of the proposed EMA is approximately 9,106 hectares.

The primary land use intent of the EMA is to provide for the sustainability of the brook trout resource and to maintain the remoteness of the area. Other land uses and activities may occur in a manner that is consistent with the primary intent and where permitted by the specific land use policies for this area.

Comments received

Through the registry

30

By email

15

By mail

70
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Concerns were raised that the proposed policies were not enough to fully protect the values in the area.

Ministry response:

The goal of the proposed Enhanced Management Area (EMA), is to balance commercial, industrial, recreational and protectionist activities and ideals. The protection zones were chosen because we believe it strikes a balance between protecting the ecological integrity of the fisheries resource and the remote setting while allowing some commercial activities to occur.

Questions were raised about how new scientific information (such as ground water recharge zones) will be incorporated into policy direction.

Ministry response:

Since public consultation on this EMA occurred, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) obtained new information on the delineation of the ground water recharge zone for Clegge Lake and Nalla Lake.  This information is now incorporated into the final map of the EMA for this amendment. The incorporation of any additional information will require an amendment to the EMA policy. The extent of any changes will require a review to determine the level of amendment (minor or major), and whether such an amendment will be pursed at that time.

Concern was raised as to how the forest will be renewed within the protection zones of the proposed EMA if timber harvest is not allowed to occur.

Ministry response:

The goal of this EMA is to protect the ecological integrity of the area and the sustainability of brook trout. Renewal of the forest within protection zones is a concern as it may disrupt the groundwater recharge areas on which the spawning success of Brook Trout rely. Natural forest succession occurs in other parts of Crown forests and is identified within existing Forest Management Plans as an available forestry management technique.

Concern was raised about how the existing trails in the area will be identified and documented as these trails can be maintained according to the proposed EMA policies.

Ministry response:

It was acknowledged that inventory and mapping of the trails within the proposed EMA boundaries is incomplete, and that imagery of the area does not show all current trails. We asked members of the public who raised this concern to share their trail locations with us, however they remained hesitant to do so as they did not want these trails to be included within MNRF’s publicly available data. We are considering additional field work to document and record the network of trails within the proposed EMA.

Questions were raised why the Ministry chose to pursue a Crown Land Use amendment instead of resolving the issues through the forest management planning process.

Ministry response:

We chose the Crown land use option because forest management planning is a resource management process limited to forestry. It would not protect the brook trout lakes in question from industrial/commercial activities, and road development associated with other forms of land use.

Concern was raised about restrictions to new bait harvesting operations.

Ministry response:

As a result of this concern, the proposed policies for commercial bait harvesting was changed from ‘maybe’ to ‘yes’. Changes to the proposed guidelines from ‘New operations are not permitted’ to ‘New operation can be considered where they are demonstrated to be consistent with the land use intent and specific land use policies (e.g. road restriction) of this EMA in order to be consistent with other EMAs across the province.

Concern was raised about the ability for existing amethyst mines in the area to expand.

Ministry response:

As a result of this concern, guideline text within the policies for Aggregate Extraction Activities was updated to allow authorized operations in existence prior to the creation of this EMA to continue and to expand upon adjacent lands so long as this expansion is not within a groundwater recharge zone.

Concerns were raised about the inability to access the timber within the centre of the proposed EMA from the North, as the restrictions on new road construction resulted in the area being inaccessible.

Ministry response:

As such, to help facilitate harvest of the available wood within this EMA, the proposed land use direction on the western side of Clegge Lake has been changed from a 1000m no roads/trail zone to a 900m no roads/trail zone to allow for a 100m width corridor between Clegge Lake and Mackenzie Lake. This change will allow for the construction of a road heading South off the Escape Lake Road to the centre of the EMA.

Concerns were raised regarding access by Indigenous and Métis Community members

Ministry response:

The exercise of Aboriginal and Treaty rights would still be permitted in the Amethyst Highlands EMA. Access restrictions on newly constructed roads and trails would inhibit motor vehicle travel, however Indigenous individuals would still be able to exercise Aboriginal and Treaty rights in the area under the constraints of the Amethyst Highlands Enhanced Management Area access provisions.

Supporting materials

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Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Regional Operations Division, Thunder Bay District
Address

435 James Street South
Suite B001
Thunder Bay, ON
P7E 6S7
Canada

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Original proposal

ERO number
013-4408
Notice type
Policy
Act
Public Lands Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Proposal posted

Comment period

March 21, 2019 - May 6, 2019 (46 days)

Proposal details

Description of Policy

This amendment proposes to create a new Fish and Wildlife Category Enhanced Management Area (E2260w) from portions of two General Use Areas (G2622 Spruce-Current and G2625 Rural Areas). The proposed boundaries of the enhanced management area generally extend 2 km from the shores of 13 high quality brook trout lakes (focal lakes), and 1 km from the shores of 3 other brook trout lakes of lesser quality (secondary lakes). Protection has been specifically requested by the public through past forest management plan processes. The total area of the proposed enhanced management area is approximately 9,150 hectares and includes lands within Unorganized Territory, the Municipality of Shuniah and the Township of Dorion.

The primary intent of the enhanced management area will be to provide for the sustainability of the brook trout resource and maintain remoteness of the area. This is proposed to be accomplished by:

  1. Managing access within the enhanced management area (prohibiting the creation of new roads and trails while allowing existing access routes to remain);
  2. Excluding activities within 600 metres from the shores of the focal lakes, and 120 metres from the shores of the secondary lakes that have the potential to negatively impact their water quality and aesthetics;
  3. Excluding all activities within groundwater recharge areas of all focal and secondary lakes. Other land uses and activities may still occur so long as they are consistent with the primary land use intent and permitted by the specific land use policies proposed.

This proposal will attempt to resolve long standing public concerns in this area. Concerns were first raised about access and harvesting activities proposed adjacent to a cluster of remote naturally-reproducing brook trout lakes in the Amethyst Highlands area in 2007. In 2010, a group of area stakeholders requested that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry amend the Crown land use policies for the area. The Ministry is committed to pursuing an amendment to Crown land use policy to ensure the long-term stability of the naturally-reproducing brook trout fishery and to explore ways of maintaining the remoteness of the area.

This proposal is expected to have significant positive environmental impacts by reducing the risk of introductions of exotic species and risk of increased angling pressure, both of which are harmful to brook trout populations. The proposed policies will also help to ensure the future spawning success of area brook trout by protecting the groundwater flow systems on which they rely. The impact of these policies is expected to help ensure the long-term protection of this sensitive fishery.

The ability of individuals to access this area through existing roads and trails will not change; therefore, traditional uses can and are expected to continue and be relatively unaffected, thereby keeping angling pressure low.

The proposed changes to land use in this area entail a shift from the generally permissive general use area designation and policies (allow a broad range of land uses) that currently apply, to an enhanced management area designation that will limit the types of activities that can occur in the area. These limitations will result from policies that directly prohibit certain activities (no commercial hydro development) as well as from policies that indirectly impact land uses/activities due to the prohibition on new roads and trails within the interior of the enhanced management area.

If the amendment is approved, land use policies for the enhanced management area will provide direction for future project-level and resource management planning decisions, including planning for areas within the Lakehead and Black Spruce forests.

Public consultation opportunities

Comments received during pre-consultation in Spring 2018 were considered in this proposed land use amendment.

Information centres in the form of open houses will be conducted to provide information on this project. Planning Team members will be present at open houses to provide information, collect comments, and answer questions. Open houses will be held city of Thunder Bay, Municipality of Shuniah and Township of Dorion. Dates for these open houses are yet to be determined but will be advertised in local newspapers.

Potentially interested persons (landowners, mineral right holders, etc.) and agencies will receive an invitation to participate in the planning process through direct written notice.

Persons who wish to be added to the mailing list can contact the contact person identified in this Environmental Registry notice.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Regional Operations Division, Thunder Bay District
Address

435 James Street South
Suite B001
Thunder Bay, ON
P7E 6S7
Canada

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from March 21, 2019
to May 6, 2019

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