Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

At risk

Duck Mountain only provincial park where logging continues

  • Print

I have a soft spot for Duck Mountain Provincial Park.

Lucky enough to have been born into a family with a rustic little cabin located within its boundaries -- legend has it Grandpa acquired it as payment for an outstanding poker debt back when it was little more than a fishing shack -- I spent every summer of my formative years there and have continued to return annually as an adult.

 

Duck Mountain is a beautiful part of Manitoba, definitely worth the half-day drive to get there. Largely undeveloped, its terrain is rough and wild (at least to this urbanite), full of pristine glacial lakes and boreal forest. There are several elevated lookouts throughout the park that provide amazing panoramic views, and it's awe-inspiring in the true sense of the word to breathe in the crisp air and look out over a seemingly never-ending expanse of trees.

Of course, appearances can be deceiving.

Logging giant Louisiana-Pacific set up shop in Duck Mountain in the mid-'90s. It struck me as odd that it would be allowed to operate in a provincial park (ostensibly designated as such because of its value as an intact parcel of land). I was scared, too. This was around the same time as the Clayoquot Sound blockades were making national news and I feared that in a few years, the park would look like the post-apocalyptic pictures coming out of B.C. -- huge swathes of scorched earth with nothing left.

That hasn't happened, but that's not to say that L-P hasn't left its mark on the landscape.

If you take Highway 10 and approach the mountain from the northern side near Swan River, you'll drive right past the L-P mill. It's an imposing structure. Smoke belches from it 24/7 and all around it, hundreds and hundreds of trees are stacked in neat piles, awaiting their turn with the chipper, the first step in a process that will transform them into oriented strand board.

Head up the mountain past Minitonas and you'll notice that, for a while, the forest on either side of the highway extends only a few metres in. Window-dressing left up as a buffer for the tourists.

Last fall, the Doer government announced its intention to ban logging in 79 out of 80 provincial parks. I was elated -- until I realized my beloved Duck Mountain was the one exception. The province justified its exemption by saying that existing agreements with "commercial harvesters" (a euphemism for what are actually multimillion-dollar logging corporations) were too complex to allow operations to end, and that mills and jobs are "completely dependent on the wood supply."

It was bitter pill to swallow. And now, this -- according to a recent Winnipeg Free Press article, L-P is petitioning the provincial government for permission to shut down the devices which, for the last decade or so, have controlled the amount of toxic pollution it spews into the air.

The company is losing money and needs to cut costs. Continuing to operate its regenerative thermal oxidizers is simply too expensive, it claims, and being forced to do so could mean it would have to shut down, putting some 175 people out of work.

Threatening job losses is an effective scare tactic for a company like L-P, especially during tough economic times and when it employs people who, by the province's own admission, are "completely dependent on the wood supply" to pay their rent and feed their kids.

It's also misguided in that it pits jobs against environmental stewardship as if the two are mutually exclusive. They're not. If we degrade our environment until we can't breathe the air, it won't matter what shape our economy is in.

According to the article, L-P says shutting down its RTOs won't harm the environment because it installed some sort of new system five years ago. Yet despite this claim, environmentalists remain suspicious.

I wonder why? Could it be that large corporations aren't generally known for being all that trustworthy?

Ultimately, the provincial government has the final say in this situation. It has already capitulated to Big Forestry once, and it would be wise to proceed carefully, independently and with due diligence before making its next decision. The stakes are simply too high for anything less.

 

Marlo Campbell writes for Uptown Magazine.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 16, 2009 A11

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Bowman pledges to find efficiencies at City Hall

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060711 Chris Pedersen breeds Monarch butterflies in his back yard in East Selkirk watching as it transforms from the Larva or caterpillar through the Chrysalis stage to an adult Monarch. Here an adult Monarch within an hour of it emerging from the Chrysalis which can be seen underneath it.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think e-cigarettes should be banned by the school division?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google