Logging in all but one of Manitoba’s 80 provincial parks will stop this spring, the Doer government said today.
The move will see only logging in Duck Mountain Provincial Park continue, Conservation Minister Stan Struthers said at a news conference a day after the ban was announced in yesterday’s throne speech.
It means existing logging operations will be phased out and no new logging approved in parks.
“We think parks should be there for Manitoban, for their use,” Struthers said.
The move means logging operations will stop this April 1 in the Whiteshell, Nopiming, Clearwater and Grass River River Parks.
The two big logging companies impacted by the change are Tembec and Tolko. They will now see long distances between cutting areas on Crown land and their mills, meaning higher travel costs.
To compensate both companies the province is making a one-time payment of $3 million. That money reflects the fact they’ve built roads and bridges in former park cutting areas they will no longer be able to use.
Company officials said they agreed to the ban saying they realized which way government and public opinion had shifted. The new cutting areas will still allow them to harvest timber for their products. Tembec produces newsprint and Tolko produces lumber and packaging like cement bags.
Ron Thiessen, Manitoba director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said his group welcomed the ban as it shows provincial parks are now fully protected areas.
Eric Reder, local campaign director for the Wilderness Committee was even more enthusiastic.
“The bubbly was being cracked open in Wilderness Committee offices across the country today,” he said in a statement. “We work for long stretches without momentous victories. This is indeed a special time for us, and for the next generations.”