Environmentalists pan new road through Grass River provincial park

August 20, 2009

WINNIPEG – Local environmentalists and politicians say the Doer government has back-pedalled on new legislation that bans logging in provincial parks by approving a new road in Grass River Provincial Park for logging trucks.

Eric Reder of the Wilderness Committee and Gail Whelan Enns of Manitoba Wildlands say the road, recently approved by the province, will cut through the park to allow Tolko Industries in The Pas access to timber north of the park.

They said the road defeats the purpose of the Forest Amendment Act than bans logging in 79 of Manitoba’s 80 provincial parks. The act went into effect June 11.

The two environmentalists, as well as provincial Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard and Manitoba Green Party leader James Beddome, said the decision to approve the road would also impact the migration route of the park’s woodland caribou, who gained protected status under the province’s Endangered Species Act in 2006.

They said Tolko could easily build a longer road to the west of the park which would give loggers the same access and at same time improve the road system for northerners.

In a radio interview today, Premier Gary Doer said the government’s decision was based on stabilizing jobs in the forest industry, which has been hit hard by the recession in the United States.

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