Extend the park logging ban, not the logging licence

Thursday, March 14, 2024
A feller buncher inside Duck Mountain Provincial Park in October 2022
A feller buncher inside Duck Mountain Provincial Park in October 2022 [Eric Reder]

The forests in Duck Mountain Provincial Park are still falling. Ecosystems here, which took a century to grow, will be wiped out in a matter of days as a feller-buncher logging machine continues to bring down tree after tree. All-season roads built just for logging will haul healthy nutrients out of the region log by log, and the province will be poorer. The Duck Mountain Provincial Park will be forever scarred, just to pad the profits of some corporations and their shareholders. A scant couple of workers on the ground are leaving a generational void in our lives. 

Despite not having a long-term forest management plan, as is required by Manitoba law, Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) continues to log Duck Mountain Provincial Park, colloquially known as the Ducks. In fact, their last management plan expired 18 years ago. Year after year, governments have allowed continued destruction of the Ducks and extended the licence with no public review.

But, there's a new boss in charge now. In October 2023, Manitobans voted for a change  and brought to power a party that committed to increase protected areas in the province, aligning with the worldwide goals of preserving 30 per cent of the lands and waters by 2030. This commitment will roughly triple protected nature in Manitoba, from the 11 per cent protected area in the province today. We highlighted this in our Duck Mountain Region Audit last year. 

With a new government we see a collision course. Logging in a park, which a majority of Manitobans oppose — and a commitment to grow parks and protected areas. More importantly, the First Nations, whose territory was overlapped by both Duck Mountain Provincial Park and Louisiana-Pacific's logging license without due consultation or consent, need to be in  charge of their lands and waters. In 2022, two First Nations took legal action against LP and the government for failing to consult them, and demanded their voice and wishes be recognized. 

Manitoba’s new Minister of Environment and Climate Change Tracy Schmidt and Minister of Economic Development, Investment, Trade and Natural Resources, Jamie Moses, are the new decision-makers on Duck Mountain Provincial Park and logging. They have known the need for a new pathway to save the Ducks for months now. On March 31, 2024, the current Environment Act Licence that allows Louisiana-Pacific to log Duck Mountain Provincial Park will expire. This is the time when we will get a glimpse into the soul of this new government. 

Logging in parks has to stop, to make the moniker of “park” mean protection and peace for both nature and people. We need to decolonize our parks, which means decision-making authority, on the Ducks region, must be in the hands of First Nations. Protected areas in the Duck Mountain region must grow to at least 30 per cent. Aligning all three of these goals is required, with new and different land designations for the region. We detailed this pathway in a December 2023 op-ed in the Free Press. But will our government show their work towards this in the next few weeks? 

In 2007 and 2008, more than 23,000 people across the province voiced their opinion through the Wilderness Committee, asking that logging in parks be stopped. Logging ended in 12 out of 13 parks in the fall of 2009. The government of Manitoba knows manitobans don't support industrial activity in parks. Fifteen years on, it is time to finish the job. We need your voice to achieve this. We need your voice to make a difference.

Please use this letter writing tool to tell elected officials what you want to see in the Duck Mountain region. 

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