Logging contract in Duck Mountain 'rushed' by Tories

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Winnipeg Free Press

Remaining cut logs in a snowy clearcut

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government’s handling of another provincial park is coming under fire.

After asking for public input on renewing a 20-year plan for a company to log in and around Duck Mountain Provincial Park, critics say the province hasn’t provided the information needed for meaningful consultation.

"The PC government is withholding critical information on their forest management plan," Lisa Naylor, NDP environment and climate change critic, said in an email. "Without the facts, there isn’t proper consultation. That puts the environment and jobs in jeopardy.

"Just like they’re breaking their own rules to start privatizing our parks, the PCs are undermining their own consultation process."

Earlier this month, beach-bound Manitobans learned that the campground at St. Ambroise Beach Provincial Park on Lake Manitoba is being operated under a 21-year lease by a private businessman who is also responsible for looking after the beach.

The provincial government has also contracted out work to a private developer in another provincial park, angering the union for conservation officers and environmental groups, who demand an end to the privatization of public assets. Manitoba Parks signed an agreement to allow Turtle Mountain Adventure Huts Ltd., to construct up to three non-serviced cabins near Adam Lake, as part of a five-year pilot project.

Now the province is "rushing" a 20-year licence renewal for Louisiana-Pacific Corp.’s logging in Duck Mountain Provincial Park, said Eric Reder with the Manitoba chapter of the Wilderness Committee.

The public has until July 6 to comment on the industrial activity in the forest but there’s no recent, accurate information available from the province to make an informed comment, Reder said

A spokesman for the province said Louisiana-Pacific’s 20-year forest management plan followed the currently approved guidelines. "The vast majority of the forested area within LP’s licence area is covered by a modern and high-quality forest lands inventory," he said.

The logging in the park is done by local timber quota holders, "and is of vital importance to the region as it provides significant economic benefits to the rural communities surrounding the park," the government spokesman said in an email.

Manitobans value parks for their natural value — not their industrial value, said Reder, pointing to a 2018 Probe Research survey that found 70 per cent of Manitobans wanted industrial activity such as logging out of provincial parks.

Reder wants the province to wait for the Clean Environment Commission’s 2020 report on Manitoba’s forest management plan guidelines to be finalized and made public, then give people concerned about logging in Duck Mountain 120 days to review it and comment.

"It involves one-fifth of the province," Reder said. "They’re rushing this and doing a half-assed job of public consultation, analyzing the data and giving the public the opportunity to understand how we’re managing the forest in Manitoba," he said Friday.

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