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Beardmore Road Access Strategy (Audrey Creek and Groundhog River Bridge) A. Background: The Kapuskasing District Fisheries Plan (1989-2000) identified the lake sturgeon fishery in the Groundhhog River as unique and indicated that, by managing road access, efforts will be made to retain the remote aspect of the sturgeon spawning area between LaDuke Rapids and the “Pot” area. In the 1995-2000 and 2000-2005 Forest Management Plans, the fishery itself was protected by the use of a removable bridge structure over the Groundhog River as well as access restrictions in the form of a gate at Audrey Creek and signage on the Beardmore Road. It was stated in those plans that following completion of operations in the Beardmore area, both the Groundhog River Bridge and Audrey Creek Bridge would be removed and access to the Groundhog River via this road would be destroyed. The superstructure (bridge decking) was removed from the Groundhog River Bridge in November 2001 and the substructure (piers and abutments) still remains in place. The intent is to re-use the substructure in approximately 15-30 years in order to access the area east of the Groundhog River for the purposes of harvesting the remaining eligible tracts of mature timber and undertaking commercial thinning operations. Approximately 2,000 hectares of mature forest remain to be harvested in the Beardmore area east of the Groundhog River. This area contains approximately 120,000 cubic metres of Spruce-Pine-Fir and Aspen. In addition, there are approximately 2034 hectares of planted areas that will be eligible for commercial thinning operations in approximately 15-30 years. The expected commercial thinning volume in these areas is approximately 60,000 cubic metres of Spruce-Pine-Fir. The new superstructure and existing substructure (piers and abutments) will be removed following the completion of harvest and renewal operations in the remaining harvest areas and completion of commercial thinning operations. At the present time the gate on Audrey Creek and signage on Beardmore Road are still in effect. B. Proposed Access Strategy: • Gate to be removed at Audrey Creek (leave posts will be left in place to address trapper concern, in case prescription is ineffective and have to re-install gate). • Two signs are to be installed: o One sign to be installed west of Groundhog River at Audrey Creek. This sign is to read: “Use of this road, and all gravel roads beyond this point, to access the Groundhog River for the purposes of angling, is prohibited”. o Second sign is to be located east of the Groundhog River on BE8, approximately 500 m south of the intersection with Beardmore Road. This sign is also to read: “Use of this road, and all gravel roads beyond this point, to access the Groundhog River for the purposes of angling, is prohibited.” C. Public Comments: 1) Trapper and Trapper Council • Concerned with proposed culverts removal on section of Beardmore Road. 2) LCC • Concerned with impact to tourism operation on Beardmore Lake (addressed through signage and previous abandonment); • Concerned with culverts to be removed (addressed by leaving culverts in); • Liked idea of removing grate. 3) LUP holder on Groundhog River • No concerns raised. D. Other: • Long-term direction changes; • Road needed longer in future, OLL impacts on potential crossing locations; • Can leave piers and abutments in place until next crossing (approximately 15 to 30 years); • Following next crossing, entire bridge including piers and abutments to be removed; and • MOU or tenure document to address specifics of leaving substructure in place. E. Environmental Analysis Considerations/Issues: 1. Aesthetics – Ontario Parks, Recreationalists 2. Fisheries – OMNR Biologists, CO’s 3. Wildlife (caribou, moose) OMNR Biologists CO’s 4. Navigation - Ontario Parks, Recreationalists, DFO 5. Fibre, access – Industry 1. Alternative #1 Description: Removal of the piers and abutments at the Groundhog River, decommission the Beardmore Road, and access future harvest access via the Cloutier Road. (i) Advantages: (forest management purposes) - None Disadvantages: (forest management purposes) - Options for accessing forest tracts east of Groundhog River from the west side will not be allowed if crossing structure is removed. - Due to the prohibitive cost of upgrading the Cloutier Road for summer access, harvest activities would be restricted to winter only via Cloutier Road. - Increased hauling costs due to the increased distance and highway haul. - Additional crossing required on Cloutier Road. - Much of the future harvest area is upland and therefore would likely require artificial regeneration; without summer access it would not be possible to undertake artificial renewal. (ii) Advantages (effects on other values) - Removal of piers on Groundhog River improves aesthetics/navigation. - By making the Beardmore Road impassable including culvert removal, placement of impediments on the roadway and partial destruction of the roadbed at strategic locations may further discourage access to the Groundhog River. Disadvantages (effects on other values) - Potential for improved access to the Groundhog River for other users along Cloutier Road as a result of road upgrading/clearing to this functionally roadless area. - Increased environmental risk through removal of piers and abutments that are in a stable and re-vegetated condition. (iii) Use Management Strategy - Decommission the Beardmore Road, removal of piers and abutments at Groundhog River, and remove gate at Audrey Creek (iv) Estimated Costs - See cost comparison of two alternatives under Alternative #2 2. Alternative #2 Description: Leave piers and abutments in place, access via all weather Beardmore Road, maintain bridge and gate at Audrey Creek (i) Advantages: (forest management purposes) - Options remain open for future crossing Groundhog River Provincial Park as an existing use. - Year-round road access for harvest, renewal and thinning operations would be possible with re-installation of bridge on existing piers and abutments - This alternative is more cost efficient, for harvest and hauling. For hauling there is a huge difference in fuel costs by remaining off highway and utilizing all weather access roads and existing crossings. Disadvantages: (forest management purposes) - None (ii) Advantages: (effects on other values) - Beardmore area would remain functionally roadless in its present state, with restricted access from the Beardmore Road and limited access via Cloutier Road. - No impacts to fishery by leaving abutments and piers in place - Negligible impact from aesthetic perspective - Abutments and piers present minimal impediment to navigation Disadvantages: (effects on other values) - Current gate at Audrey Creek will remain in place. (iii) Use Management Strategy - Piers and abutments to remain in place for next 15 to 30 years to facilitate harvest, renewal, and thinning operations in areas east of the Groundhog River. (iv) Estimated Costs: The following table summarizes the comparative road construction, maintenance and hauling costs associated with the 2 alternatives. Comparison of Cost – Alternative 1 and Alternative 2 Route Cost Volume (m3) Total Cost Road Construction Hauling Winter All-Weather Winter All- Winter All-Weather Weather Alternative 1 $0.93 $10.21 $8.70 120,000 $1,156,176 $2,269,200 Alternative 2 $1.12 $1.93 $4.70 120,000 $698,400 $795,600 Cost Difference ($) – Winter $457,776 Cost Difference ($) – All Weather $1,473,600 Cost Difference ($) – All Weather (via Gurney) vs Winter (via Cloutier) $360,576 Summer Access via Cloutier Road is cost prohibitive. Winter Access via Cloutier Road means winter harvest only and no access for artificial renewal.
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"Strategy for Groundhog River Bridge Jan 17 2005"Please download to view full document