Published: October 18, 2017
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
Local snow machine enthusiasts took an opportunity to share thoughts and opinions on a plan to phase out mechanized travel in eastern parts of Woodland Caribou Provincial Park last week.
Gathering for a consultation session on the Knox Lake Phase Out on Oct. 11 more than 20 residents provided input into a plan that could see snowmobile access to the lake cut off as early as this winter.
Manager of Park Operations for the Northwest Zone Greg Wilson says the meeting was one of a series aimed at gathering feedback on whether it is best to phase out mechanized travel immediately or grant an additional 10 year exemption to be phased out in 2027 with no consultation.
“Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is a Wilderness class park that plays a key role in the protection of natural heritage while providing regional opportunities and snowmobiling is not a compatible activity in wilderness class parks under the legislation,” explained Wilson adding that during the planning process in the early 2000s a commitment was made to review the phase out plans as they came near.
Those in attendance at the meeting supported the 10 year extension with many feeling the session allowed them to participate in the decision making process for the adventurous snowmachine route that lead to a popular fishing spot.
Sr. Park Planner Julie Sullivan noted the object of the park designation is to protect “large areas where the forces of nature can function freely and visitors can travel by non-mechanized means.”
John Hager noted during the consultation he had taken the route many times with his son and was disappointed the same tradition would not be available for his son and grandson.
“I think this meeting is important,” attendee Brad Johnson told organizers. “This time I feel like we really have a say.”
Woodland Caribou Provincial Park encompasses 470,000 hectares and was created in 1983 with expansions added in the 1990s and 2000s.
Wilson says the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry hope to have a decision soon on the fate of the trail in order to prepare for the upcoming snowmobile season.
(seen above) Snowmobilers meet with MNRF officials on Oct. 11 on Knox Lake phase out plan. – Photo by Jennifer Parsons