Cite negative impact on environment, enjoyment of wilderness
Brothers Jason and Jeff Ivany have enjoyed the great outdoors in the Salmonier Line area for as long as they can remember. They now jointly own a small off-the-grid cabin near Tobins Pond that once belonged to their grandfather.
“I’d say my diapers were changed in there,” said Jeff Ivany. “Our grandfather has been taking us over those barrens hunting and fishing all our lives, so we kind of grew up in that area.”
Ayla Ivany looks over land located near her family’s cabin along the Salmonier Line. Her father Jason is worried what a proposed mineral exploration access road will mean for the area. — Submitted photo
Both men have their own children now to explore the land with, but they worry a proposed 11-kilometre access road near Big Triangle Pond for mineral exploration will spoil that experience.
Eagleridge International Ltd. has applied to the Department of Environment and Conservation to build the road to access an exploration site in the Big Triangle Pond area. The company has been searching for gold and copper there on and off for the last 25 years.
Company CEO Albert Chislett, who spoke with The Telegram Sunday, said so long as his company complies with government regulations for exploration and road building, there should be no problems.
“Each year there’s something like 100 kilometres of (access) roads constructed in Newfoundland, so it’s not something that’s unheard of, that type of road,” he said. “We’re trying to avoid crossing bog lands coming off Salmonier Line and in different locations, so the road will allow us to do that.”
He contends building a road straight through the middle of land where Eagleridge has rights for mineral exploration is the best solution with the lowest impact on the environment. A plan is also in place to decommission the road and dismantle it in the event exploration work proves to be fruitless.
Those words would not alleviate the concerns of the Ivanys, who recently created a Facebook page to encourage other cabin owners in the area to ask government not to approve the road. According to Jason Ivany, the winter poses a challenge for getting in touch with cabin owners.
“You can’t bring a petition around and have easy access to let these people know what’s going on,” he said.
Jason was aware of past exploration activity in the area, but argues such activity will pale in comparison to what will happen if the access road is approved.
“Our immediate concerns, one from a cabin owner perspective, was the amount of noise and disruption (we will face) in what is now a peaceful and enjoyable place,” said Jeff Ivany. “As land users, people who hunt and fish, what are going to be our access rights as far as being able to go in and trout fish, Ski-Doo, hunt? I rabbit hunt with my two dogs over there. We moose hunt there.”
A hunter and recreational fisherman, Chislett said he can understand where those concerns are coming from.
“I think where their concerns are is that it will make access very easy for other people who want to do the same things they want to do,” he said, noting the road will have a locked gate. “I’ve had those concerns myself over the years when I’ve had favourite hunting or fishing areas, but I realize in the end that everybody has a right to any areas in Newfoundland for that type of activity.”
The Ivanys are also concerned about the road’s potential to negatively affect the salmon populations of North Arm River and Salmonier River.
“This road will go right into these watersheds and into the spawning grounds,” said Jeff Ivany. “You have high potential for fuel leaks and also silt that’s going to be generated from the road.”
According to an environmental preview reported submitted last month by Eagleridge to government, culverts will be installed to ensure natural drainage. Chislett disputes the notion his proposed road would harm salmon populations. He said most of the popular salmon rivers in the province are exposed to much more traffic than the access road will deal with.
“These are prolific rivers with 70,000 or 80,000 salmon going up in them. That doesn’t have any affect on the river. We’re not developing to that level. This is just a road crossing a brook inside the head waters of the North Arm River with a bailey bridge on it. As far as the Salmonier head waters, we’re nowhere near that.”
The Department of Environment and Conservation is accepting comments on the environmental preview report — which can be found on its website — until March 28. The minister is due to render a decision by April 7.