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© Lora Denis
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.
Only 54 million hectares of roadless areas remain in Ontario, most of which are in the Far North. Roadless areas have immense ecological value, but just 7% of them are currently protected in Ontario. When identifying new protected areas, we must prioritize roadless areas.
This map illustrates the ecological value of the Black Bay Peninsula and highlights the location of the logging road and mining claims © Ontario Nature 2023
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 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.
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:
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
Your support makes all the difference. Please consider making a gift to help permanently protect wild species and spaces across Ontario.
In my opinion, it is crucial that the decision regarding the approval or denial of the proposed all-season access road into the Black Bay Peninsula be based on ecological considerations rather than influenced by lobbying efforts from the forestry industry or political pressure from the current government. It is essential that we prioritize the protection of our natural resources and ecosystems, rather than giving in to the interests of industries or politicians who may prioritize short-term gains over long-term sustainability. https://www.ourgreenstreets.org/
Hopefully, the decision on whether to permit or reject an all-season access road into the Black Bay Peninsula will be made on ecological grounds, rather than be the result of lobbying pressure from the forestry industry or political pressure from the Ford government (which, as we know, never met a development proposal that it didn’t like).
Fragmentation of wilderness does not equal “sustainable” forestry.
Hi: I’m a iLife long resident of the area and am and always have been a life long advocate for leavening the Black Bay Peninsula road free.
While you’re at it you should also include St. Ignace and Simpson Islands in your efforts to have the areas remain Road free.
You must protect this area for nature and climate change