Towering red pines, quartzite cliffs, and sparkling blue water dominate the landscape of Wolf Lake. Located in the southwestern area of the greater Temagami wilderness area and 50km northeast of Sudbury, Wolf Lake is surrounded by the world’s largest known contiguous ancient red pine forest. As part of the Chiniguchi Waterway, Wolf Lake is recognized for its popular backcountry canoe routes and recreational opportunities. The old-growth red pines found in this area are part of a critically endangered ecosystem that is estimated to remain on only 1.2% of its original range.
Wolf Lake remains continually at risk because it is designated as holding “forest reserve” status, which prohibits logging but not mineral exploration or mining. In 1999 the Government of Ontario committed to protect this area of old-growth forest, however mining claims and leases surrounding Wolf Lake prevented its inclusion in the newly created Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park. Despite holding this “park-in-waiting” status for more than 15 years, the Government of Ontario continues to allow mining activity in the heart of old-growth forest.
The ancient forest surrounding Wolf Lake is in a constant state of desecration and fragmentation. Mining exploration introduces serious risk and environmental stressors on the ecosystem, threatening the crucial role Wolf Lake plays as an integral component of the entire Chiniguchi waterway corridor.
As one of Ontario’s most iconic tree species, the red pine is a signature of our rugged northern landscape. Extensive logging and mining in North America have decimated the red pine, but Wolf Lake remains as one of the largest remaining examples of this ecosystem, more than triple the size of the next largest remnant. In addition to providing a rich history of the climate, ancient forests maintain soil stability and water quality, retain large amounts of nutrients, and provide a reservoir of genetic diversity and unique wildlife habitat. The presence of red pine of varying ages throughout the site also clearly demonstrates that this habitat is naturally self regenerating.
Beyond its priceless ecological value, Wolf Lake is rich in recreational and cultural pursuits, research and educational opportunities, culture, and significantly benefits the regional economy. The Government of Ontario’s recent decision to renew the Wolf Lake territory mining leases for an additional 21-year period further prevents the area from being incorporated into the neighbouring Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park, continuing a state of instability and threatening the ecological survival of the area.
Map courtesy of Brian Back – Ottertooth.com
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