I would like to comment on recent news articles regarding the local Forest Management Plan (F.M.P.) and the Trout Road access question. I would specifically like to comment on references made to the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club.
Questioning the right of the F.F.S.C. to be at the table during the issue resolution procedure, a statement was made that “the latter . . . doesn’t necessarily represent the public.”
I agree, we have no mandate to represent the public. To my knowledge, only two people (Mr. R. Nault and Mr. H. Hampton) in our area have that mandate.
However, as membership chairperson for the F.F.S.C., I am aware the club is made up of 312 adult and family memberships which represent 610 people. Amongst these members are professional people, blue collar workers, and labourers. We have members in their 80s and children.
The local M.N.R. cannot meet one-on-one with every person so after going over all the submissions on the F.M.P., who better to meet with than representatives of an organization made up of such a cross-section of the community?
A second statement, “The sportsmen’s club’s hands are tied in a lot of aspects,” confused me. Over the last several years, members of the club have identified the Trout Road closure as unsatisfactory.
Last spring, the F.F.S.C. held a meeting open to the public to discuss the problem. MNR district manager Bill Darby and area supervisor Jeff Wiume attended and gave reasons for the closure, and indicated the F.M.P. was in the process of developing the next five-year stage.
After this, a committee was formed from within the club and a club position was formed. This committee met with the M.N.R., made a submission to the local Natural Resources Advisory Committee, and encouraged people to attend the F.M.P. open house in September and to make comment on the plan and the Trout Road, in particular.
The F.F.S.C. also had the support of the Atikokan Sportsmen’s Conservation Club when the open house was held in Atikokan.
Because the F.F.S.C. addressed a problem, two members were invited to the issues resolutions procedure meeting here Jan. 22. As a result of negotiations at that meeting, the club has resubmitted our position and now await the release of the draft plan in early March.
As indicated, the F.F.S.C. has had the support of another club, and has the option of asking for the support of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Zone “A,” with whom both clubs are affiliated.
We also have the availability of accessing the staff and support of the O.F.A.H.
If following the proper procedures, having this much support, and entering into negotiations means that your “hands are tied,” I disagree.
I also would like to state that when issues such as this which affect the whole community, the F.F.S.C. will usually hold an open meeting.
This was the case last spring regarding the Trout Road, as we did with the Northwest fisheries regulation recommendations and the Whitefish Bay self-government issue.
Yours in conservation,