For the last year the Catchacoma Cottagers Association (CCA) has been an active participant in the work of the Catchacoma Forest Stewardship Committee (CFSC). CCA has been represented by our Lake Steward, Ted Spence, and also by a number of property owners from around our lake and the surrounding community. The goal of the CFSC is to have a moratorium on logging in the Catchacoma Forest until its value as a site for education, research and recreational use can be fully evaluated and consideration given to its possible protection as a conservation reserve. See CFSC Flyer and the links at the end of that document to various reports.
The purpose of this report is to bring CCA members up to date on the status of the Catchacoma Forest and on the role CCA has played in supporting the work of the CFSC. We also want to make all interested people aware that we are now at a critical final stage of public input with respect to the proposed Forest Management Plan for the next 10 years. This notice from MNRF and the Bancroft Minden Forest Company outlines the Consultation process extending from mid-March until mid-May 2021.
The Catchacoma Forest
The Catchacoma Forest is an area of 600+ hectares of mature and old growth eastern hemlock forest stretching from the north shore of Catchacoma Lake north towards Pencil Lake and from 507 on the west to the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park boundary on the east. Access to the forest is from the parking lot on the east side of 507 north of Baldwin Bay Road.
The Catchacoma Forest has been identified by a scientific survey undertaken of old growth forests in Peterborough County as the largest remaining stand of Eastern Hemlock forest in all of eastern Canada. The work was completed by the Ancient Forest Exploration and Research group (AFER). In addition, surveys indicate that the area is potentially home to several species at risk and a pristine wetland area. The area is already used and studied by school groups from Peterborough and various researchers. It is an area often hiked, snowshoed, or cross country skied by area residents including cottagers.
Catchacoma Forest Stewardship Committee
The Catchacoma Forest Stewardship Committee was formed following the AFER survey of old growth forests in Peterborough County and in response to the logging activity planned for the mature and old growth Hemlock Forest area north of our lake in winter 2019/2020. The committee includes leadership from the Wilderness Committee and the Ancient Forest Exploration and Research group (AFER), as well as local residents, representatives from the Peterborough school program using the site for teaching, and other interested parties. AFER has published several reports on the forest now and there has been coverage in the Peterborough press. The committee has engaged with MNRF as well as the Bancroft Minden Forest Company (BMFC). The committee organized several hikes into the site last summer and some other activities. We have posted info on our website and the CCA FaceBook Page when it has been available.
All of the CFSC efforts aimed at investigating a protected status for the Catchacoma Forest have focused on its unique old growth characteristics and its scientific and educational value, and its recreation potential. The CFSC envisages this area as a future mature and old growth forest conservation reserve to be used for research and education purposes and for recreation through a network of existing and new hiking trails, as well as through the existing snowmobile and ATV routes. The hiking trails would continue to be accessed from the 507 parking area as well as directly from the lake as is the case now.
Consultation on Forest Management Plan 2021 to 2031
Since last summer there have been two stages of consultations and now we are into the third and probably most important round. The planning work is for the entire Bancroft Minden Forest Management Unit which is a huge area extending from the southern edge of Algonquin Park to the north shores of the Kawartha lakes. The Catchacoma Forest is a very small unit in that very large area.
First there was the review of Long Term Management Direction for Forest management and many individuals, the CFSC, and many other groups including the Municipality of Trent Lakes were active in advocating for a moratorium on logging in the area until more research could be undertaken and consideration given to the possible protection of the area. That stage ended in October 2020.
The next consultation stage was on a document concerning Proposed Operations and that ran through January 2021. The CFSC, various community groups and the municipality of Trent Lakes again filed letters requesting that the Catchacoma forest be removed from active logging in the new Forest Management Plan to allow time for a full evaluation of the future uses of this property. The Catchacoma Cottagers Association Board was one of the groups that filed a letter in this process. The CCA letter is linked here as is the MNRF response to that letter.
The Current Draft Forest Management Plan Consultation
As of March 18, 2021, the Draft FMP for the entire Bancroft Minden Forest is available on the MNRF website. It is a very large complex document and it is not easy to find specific references to the Catchacoma Forest area. However, the CFSC has been undertaking close study of the document and their findings are set out in the updated flyer posted above. The draft plan has both good news and bad news regarding the Catchacoma Forest as outlined in the update.
The good news is that approximately half of the area (Area A on the CFSC Map in their flyer) is categorized as “contingency” and not slated for active logging at this time. The contingency area extends from Pencil Creek east all the way to the KH Park boundary.
The bad news is in two parts. The area B on the CFSC map is no longer slated for logging in the draft FMP but this past winter it has been subjected to significant logging activity in spite of all the requests for a moratorium.
The second part of the bad news is that Area C stretching north and south from the parking area and stretching from 507 eastward towards the Pencil Creek wetlands is classified as “regular harvest” which means it could be scheduled for logging at any time in the next 10 years.
- The CFSC is continuing to review the draft FMP and will be preparing its response letter and making it available to individuals and groups which may want to sign on to the input. If you would like to receive more information as it becomes available, please email CFSC through Katie@wildernessCommittee.org. All input to the Draft Plan must be received by May 17, 2021
- The CFSC is continuing its site studies and research in the Catchacoma Forest area. They are planning spring events which are now on hold because of COVD restrictions. They expect to undertake a detailed wetland survey this summer to determine if the area qualifies as a provincially significant wetland. The committee has reached out to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks for their possible involvement in assessing the site to receive updates on activities please email CFSC through Katie@wildernessCommittee.org.
- We must encourage maximum public input to the Draft Plan before the May 17 deadline and CCA will again be writing a letter requesting that the area along 507 be removed from the active harvest category.