Northern Ontario is known for its rugged landscapes of dense black spruce forests, crystal clear lakes and rivers, and pristine wilderness areas. However, industrial development is increasingly fragmenting the northern landscape, causing roadless areas to rapidly decline.
The Black Bay Peninsula is located along Lake Superior, east of Thunder Bay. At 50,000 hectares, it is the largest contiguous roadless area south of the trans-Canada highway. It is home to a stunning array of natural features and wildlife, and also a massive carbon reservoir, storing around 33,000,000 tonnes of carbon (equivalent to the greenhouse emissions emitted from driving 400 billion km).
Coastal dunes, black spruce forests, and wetlands occur here. The area also provides habitat for moose, hundreds of bird species, including songbirds like the olive-sided flycatcher and palm warbler, and rare species like the Hairy-necked tiger beetle.
Winter Forest Harvesting
Winter harvesting has occurred for decades in the Black Bay Peninsula once the bog at the upper neck of the peninsula has frozen over. One of the benefits of winter harvesting is that the frozen ground and snow cover provides a firm surface for heavy forestry equipment (like skidders) to operate without causing significant damage to the soil.
The Threat of an All-season Access Logging Road
Since 1997, the threat of an upgraded all-season access road has loomed over the Black Bay Peninsula. However, local opposition to permanent road development has kept the peninsula roadless. Currently, new proposals to build the all-season access road threaten the peninsula’s ecological integrity by:
Releasing stored carbon emissions through wetland degradation
Altering natural water flow in the wetland
Increasing disturbance to surrounding soils
Loss of remote wilderness qualities, with increased access for all vehicular traffic
Loss of cultural values for Métis communities
Keep It Roadless
However, there is reason to be optimistic about the future of the Black Bay Peninsula. Many groups in the area advocate for the site’s protection from development and other threats, including Ontario Nature. With continued support and advocacy from local partners, we’re working to ensure the Black Bay Peninsula remains roadless for future generations.
Check out our Story Map to learn more about other candidate areas for protection in Ontario: Your Protected Places
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