How snowmobile roads are scarring Ontario's wilderness
The picture on the left was taken before "Ontario's Living Legacy," the name of a failed land use strategy program that was supposed to protect our wilderness. You may have seen it in the photo album already. You can click on it to enlarge it. The picture on the right was taken afterwards. This should give you some idea of how sincere the government is about wanting to protecting our wilderness.
The government likes to spend the taxpayers' money on television commercials to tell them about how wonderful Ontario's wilderness is and how much area they protected. They hope to get votes from outdoor enthusiasts and divert attention from their terrible record on the environment. When they want to put a road or a commercial development in, they just change the boundaries. Not only that, they justify wrecking important wilderness places by saying they are not inside the boundaries. Because snowmobile trails are allowed in conservation reserves, those lands aren't even really protected.
The beautiful scenic canoe portage at the McCrae Lake rapids was ruined because of a bridge that was built across it for snowmobilers. The MNR plans for many snowmobile roads and bridges all over the province.
As you can see in the picture on the left second from the top, the bridge is built directly across the rapids portage. It obstructs canoeists trying to portage their canoes. People are dropping their canoes trying to get around it. Even more distressing, people would be tempted to seek shelter under the bridge during a storm. This is an extremely dangerous thing to do as the bridge frame is constructed from highly conductive steel beams, which attracts lightning.
A section of the river bank was dynamited to clear an area to construct the bridge foundation, destroying a substantial amount of rock. While the permit for the overall snowmobile trail was issued by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the permit to build the bridge had to come from the federal Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. The permit to build the bridge did not include authorization to use explosives, required under the terms and conditions of the "Application for Authorization for Works or Undertakings Affecting Fish Habitat."
The bridge cuts across the habitat of the Massasauga Rattler. A few campers have stumbled across the path of a rattlesnake seeking warmth and shelter under the bridge.
The greatest threat to outdoor life in Ontario comes from the government. The MNR approves golf courses and snowmobile roads for private individuals and clubs on public land meant for the enjoyment of all. Snowmobile roads cut horrible scars across the wilderness and destroy wildlife habitat with unmatched precision. This snowmobile trail cut right through the middle of a blue heron nesting ground. Furthermore, the noise pollution generated by snowmobiles disturbs wildlife and people trying to enjoy more pleasant winter activities. In this case, the snowmobile bridge ruined a scenic canoe portage and caused many problems for canoeists.
Pollution from snowmobile exhaust is so dirty that you can see the grime mixed into the ice and snow in some places. The government makes motorists pay to have their vehicles pass a drive clean emission test every two years but lets snowmobiles pollute the most environmentally sensitive places unchecked.
In the twenty-first century, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the federal Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries are the slum lords of our forests and waterways. No prior governments were so low class or detrimental to Ontario outdoors.
Since the trail was built, ATV riders sometimes illegally ride on it in the summer. You can see the tire tracks of the ATVs in the mud along the trail.
There are snowmobile roads like this all over the province. The government seams to think that the wilderness is some kind of circus where you can go on a ride. In many cases, the Draconian Ontario government expropriates land from property owners to complete snowmobile trails, ruining their property. There was at least one reported case of thieves using a snowmobile trail to access the backyard of rural residence. They were able to rob the home and escape detection by traveling on the snowmobile trail away from the main highway.