Preserve wilderness park boundaries, group petitions
An environmental watchdog is raising the alarm about Wabikimi Provincial Park, a place some say is the last bastion of the woodland caribou.
The Peaceful Parks Coalition said the Ministry of Natural Resources is considering a new management plan for the park, said Anna Maria Valastro, a spokesperson for the environmental group.
"A lot of people want a wilderness park classification extended to the whole area," she said.
"But there is this big push back from outfitters to water that down, so they can have motor boats, and hunt camps and fishing derbies."
Without support for the wilderness values of the park, the management plan could change.
"The whole province is being developed and we are squeezing out places where ecological functions can happen undisturbed," she said.
"We are losing all examples of what a natural ecological system looks like and this is our last chance to preserve something that is untouched. If the Ministry of Natural Resources doesn't hear from you, they think you don't care. They interpret your silence as being supportive of the plan."
The coalition said wilderness class parks are large, intact backwoods areas where natural systems are allowed to fluctuate with natural forces and little or no human intervention. Visitors may travel on foot or by canoe. No mechanized travel is permitted and the park offers few facilities for visitors. According to the environmental group, these areas provide the solitude of an undisturbed, natural setting.
At 892,061 hectares, Wabikimi contains one of the largest areas of unspoiled wilderness in Ontario. Kopka River Provincial Park consists of 31,205 hectares and is a waterway class park. Whitesand Provincial Park is 11,337 hectares and is also a waterway class park. All three parks provide habitat and travel corridors for woodland caribou.
There are only eight wilderness parks in Ontario.