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642 King Street West, Suite 216,
Toronto, Ontario M5V 1M7
Tel: 416-941-9388
Fax: 416-941-9236
Charitable Registration No. 11925 2427 RR0001


The Quetico Foundation - Established 1954
Foggy morning on Keats Lake - Photo Courtesy of Todd Burton

Management Plan Review - Terms of Reference

Introduction | Preliminary Plan | Management Options | Terms of Reference | Our Response to the Terms of Reference | Background Information | Your Thoughts and Comments



Today, wilderness parks have significant value as the last relatively undisturbed large examples of the province’s natural heritage. The preservation of these areas is important to the perpetuation and natural evolution of plant and animal species and ecosystems in Ontario, and it is also valuable for recreation, education and research. These areas can support and retain a diversity of plant and animal species, including woodland caribou and wolverine, which require large range conditions to survive. In this way, wilderness parks assist in the maintenance of biodiversity. Environmental protection is of paramount importance; visitor activity is normally confined to low-impact forms of recreation. Wilderness parks provide opportunities for exceptional recreational experiences with challenge, solitude and immersion into our natural and/or cultural heritage.

In 1909, Quetico Provincial Forest Reserve was established to protect wildlife values. Later that same year, in the adjacent American state of Minnesota, the Superior National Forest was founded to enhance forest management. Quetico Provincial Park was regulated as a provincial park in 1913, and was classified as a wilderness park in 1977. There are no commercial tourism facilities located within the park boundaries. Quetico has had a management (master) plan in place since 1977 which has been reviewed and updated regularly. The park’s abundant waterways, rich cultural history, wild undeveloped landscape and relative lack of mechanized travel, all contribute to its reputation as an area of unparalleled wilderness canoeing opportunity.

Quetico Provincial Park is located in the judicial district of Rainy River and within the Fort Frances District of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Quetico Provincial Park encompasses some 4758 square kilometres (475,782 hectares) of rugged Canadian Shield with numerous lakes and streams. The park occupies a zone of transition between the boreal forests to the north, the mixed forests to the south and the Great Plains forests to the west and southwest. The southern boundary of the park is contiguous to the Canada-United States Boundary, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) within the Superior National Forest, while Voyageurs National Park abuts the international boundary to the west of Quetico. These American protected areas share recreational and interpretive themes with Quetico (Figure 1). In 1996, the Canadian side of the waterway along the international border was also designated by the Canadian federal and Ontario provincial governments as part of the Boundary Waters – Voyageur Waterway, a Canadian Heritage River.

The Neguagon Indian Reserve (Lac La Croix First Nation) abuts the southwest boundary of the park, where it spans 62.1 km2 along the northern shore of Lac La Croix (INAC 2005). This community of 350 is home to the Lac La Croix First Nation, and serves as a western administrative area for the park (Figure 1). The Township of Atikokan is located immediately north of Quetico, has a population of 3,000 and serves as base for park administration.

Quetico Provincial Park provides both interior (backcountry) and campground-based opportunities. The Dawson Trail campground was established in 1957 on French Lake and presently provides 107 carcampsites, 49 of which have electricity, as well as yurts, comfort stations, the heritage pavilion/visitor centre, day use areas, interpretive, hiking and cross country ski trails and other amenities. Interior use is controlled through the entry quota and the interior of the park on average sees approximately 125,000 annual visitors with 122, 000 camper nights. The location of Quetico on the Canada-U.S. border leads to historically high usage by visitors of U.S. origin particularly in the south end of the park. For most of the park’s history, southern entries comprised a large majority of entries to the park, while more recently southern entries have averaged about two-thirds of total entries. Similarly, non-resident use of the park has been historically dominant but in recent years the proportion of resident use has grown to an average of 25% of total use. In 2004 non-residents comprised 75% of Quetico visitors; 58% of entries were from the south side and 42% of entries were from the north side.

Visitors access the park through a series of entry points spread along the park boundary, controlled by a daily quota. Most of the entry points are water accessible; however, road access is available for a few lakes (Figure 2).

Mechanized travel is not permitted in the Park except in access zones. However, through the Agreement of Co-existence between the Lac La Croix First Nation and the Province of Ontario, limited use of motor boats is currently allowed on 21 designated lakes. These lakes are located within wilderness zone 2 (W2) in the western portion of Quetico, and are for use by the Lac La Croix Guides Association. The remainder of the park area east of the W2 zone comprises wilderness zone 1 (W1), where only non-mechanized forms of recreational travel are permitted.


The initial Quetico Provincial Park Master Plan was approved in 1977. The approved plan provided an expression of how the government intended the park to be developed and managed over a period of time. Reviews of the 1977 plan were undertaken in 1982, and in 1988, to ensure that the park management plan remained current and relevant and to address specific issues. A major amendment proposal by the Lac La Croix First Nation was initiated in 1992 which resulted in the Lac La Croix Agreement of Co-existence and the Revised Park Policy (1995). This agreement will provide opportunities for employment and economic diversification.

The current Management Plan Review will be guided by existing, approved sub plans. In 1997, the Quetico Provincial Park Fire Management Plan was approved, providing a framework for allowing fire to play a more natural role in the ecosystem of the park. Fire management in Quetico guides which fires are extinguished, which are allowed to burn and which are deliberately ignited. The 2006 Fishery Stewardship Plan for Quetico provides direction for fisheries management, while a draft Research Plan sets a context for park-based studies.

Quetico and its closely associated American counterpart, Superior National Forest (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness), will celebrate their 100th Anniversaries in 2009. The management plan review will also coincide with increased discussion and celebration of this joint Quetico/Superior establishment. A park management plan review requires comprehensive planning and public consultation. Methods of consultation include advisory groups, open houses and direct notices to interested and affected parties.

The park management plan will include, but not be limited to, consideration of:

  • Zoning (e.g. creation of nature reserve zones, new access zones);
  • Policies for resource stewardship, operations and development for:
    • Natural Resources
      • Fisheries Management
      • Wildlife Management
      • Fire Management
      • Vegetation Management
    • Cultural Resources
      • First Nation values (e.g. spiritual sites, pictographs)
      • Historical Sites (e.g. Cabin 16, King’s Point)
    • Operations
      • Natural Heritage Education (e.g. interpretation, information services)
      • Research (e.g. wildlife, natural fire, fisheries)
      • Recreation Management (e.g.. carrying capacity and quotas, new recreation activities, shoulder season and winter uses)
      • Atikokan-Quetico Tourism Recommendations
      • Tourism Services (e.g. outfitting,)
      • Marketing (e.g. partnerships, relationship with Atikokan, Lac La Croix, Thunder Bay)
    • Development
      • Economic Development (e.g. Lac la Croix and Atikokan)
      • New Access Points (e.g. locations, facility requirements)
      • Roads (e.g. Batchewaung Lake)
      • Other (e.g. backcountry hiking / skiing trails)
  • Implementation Priorities for Stewardship, Operations and Development Policies
  • Social and Economic Impact Analysis (e.g. job creation, infrastructure)

Management planning discussions will recognize existing Aboriginal uses, and the aspirations of Lac La Croix First Nation to achieve economic and employment opportunities associated with the park.


The plan area for the Quetico Park Management Plan Review will include all the area regulated under the Provincial Parks Act as Quetico Provincial Park (Figure 2).


Due to the high profile of Quetico Provincial Park and its significance on a local, regional and provincial level, the planning team will be assisted by a plan review advisory group.

4.1 Planning Team

The planning team will be comprised of:

  • Robin Reilly, Park Superintendent, Quetico Provincial Park (chair)
  • Ted Atatise, Lac La Croix First Nation, Agreement Coordinator
  • Lisa Solomon, Quetico Park Biologist
  • Rachel Hill, Fort Frances District representative
  • Michèle Proulx, Northwest Zone Park Management Planner
  • Melissa Mosley, Quetico Park Assistant Park Planner
  • Dan Mulrooney, Ontario Parks Research Analyst, Planning and Research section

The park superintendent will lead the overall development of the plan, and ensure appropriate support for the activities of the planning team and advisory group. The northwest zone park management planner, as the project planner, will be responsible for the preparation, production and distribution of all planning documents, with support from the assistant park planner. The team will undertake the compilation, evaluation and development of background information, and will ensure that public consultation occurs as scheduled. The planning team will review all draft documents, assist in issue resolution, and make recommendations to the Zone Manager as required.

Technical/professional advice will be sought from advisors on an as required basis from the following areas: Ontario Parks Northwest Zone and Main office, MNR Fort Frances District and Atikokan Area, Northwest Region Science and Technology, Township of Atikokan, Ministry of Northern Development & Mines, Ministry of Transportation, MNR Regional Engineering and others as required.

4.2 Advisory Group

The Quetico Provincial Park Management Plan Review Advisory Group is intended to provide advice to the planning team and contribute local, regional and provincial knowledge. The park superintendent will chair the advisory group with support from the park management planner and the assistant planner. Reasonable out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed to the advisory group members in accordance with normal Ontario government procedures. Expenses for food, lodging and travel will be covered by the project planning budget. Additional meetings may also be held by telephone and by Internet. The Quetico Provincial Park Management Plan Review Advisory Group will convene at the following key stages in the planning process:

  • invitation to participate and inspect the terms of reference;
  • review of background information and identification of management alternatives;
  • preparation of the preliminary park management plan;
  • preparation of the recommended park management plan.

The advisory group is composed of the following members:

  • Lac La Croix First Nation (Council)
  • Atikokan Chamber of Commerce representative
  • Lakehead University
  • ENGO (Ontario Nature/CPAWS) representative
  • Quetico Foundation representative
  • Crossroute Forest representative
  • Quetico Superior Foundation representative
  • Resource Management Advisory Committee (RMAC) representative
  • Ontario Prospectors Association representative
  • Chair of the Planning Team (to provide administrative support)


To ensure that the plan review is outward looking and inclusive, and that all resource management interests are addressed, the planning team will undertake meaningful liaison with Lac La Croix First Nation, park users, local outfitters, adjacent landowners, as well as residents of Atikokan, and other interested parties and stakeholders. The following documents will be referenced for the process:

  • Crown Land Use Policy Atlas 2003.
  • Ontario Provincial Parks Planning and Management Policies. MNR 1992.
  • Ontario Provincial Parks Park Management Planning Manual. MNR 1994.
  • Quetico Provincial Park Revised Park Policy 1995.
  • Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy MNR July 1999.
  • A Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves. MNR 2004.
  • Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
  • Endangered Species Act.


The development of the park management plan will be undertaken in 4 stages, as follows:

  • initial invitation to participate and opportunity to inspect the approved terms of reference;
  • preparation and public review of the background information, and management options documents;
  • preparation and public review of the preliminary park management plan;
  • preparation and inspection of the approved park management plan.


The following planning schedule reflects the goal of completing an approved Quetico Provincial Park Management Plan by the summer of 2008. The proposed schedule recognizes:

  • the significance of the resource; Quetico Provincial Park was regulated in 1913 and then classified as a wilderness park in 1977 when the Quetico Provincial Park master plan was approved. Quetico Park’s abundant waterways, its rich cultural history, its wild, undeveloped landscape and relative lack of mechanized travel, all contribute to its reputation as an area of unparalleled wilderness canoeing opportunity.
  • the complexity of the issues to be addressed; for example, economic development (e.g. increasing benefits to Lac la Croix and Atikokan); new access points on northern and eastern park boundaries (Tilley, Batchewaung and King’s Point [commercial aircraft landing]); new roads (e.g. to access Batchewaung Lake through crown land); new/expanded activities (e.g. backcountry hiking / skiing / commercial dog sledding); new development (trails in and around the park for hiking and for skiing and associated campsites/tent platforms for shoulder season and winter use).
  • the magnitude of the area involved; Quetico Provincial Park encompasses some 475,782 hectares of rugged Canadian Shield with numerous lakes and streams. The park occupies a zone of transition between the boreal forests to the north, the mixed forests to the south and the Great Plains forests to the west and southwest.
  • the number of communities and interests who will be participating in the process; management planning for Quetico has in the past attracted broad public interest. In 1972, the Quetico Park Advisory Committee’s report to the Minister of Natural Resources led to the initiation of the first master plan for the park. The Quetico Provincial Park Management Plan Review Advisory Group is intended to provide local, regional and provincial representation opportunities that in addition to their local knowledge will ensure that an enhanced regional and provincial perspective is considered.
  • the desire for comprehensive public participation.

The major steps in the process and their completion dates*, along with the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) and general public consultation components, are outlined below.

Item Description/Product Public Consultation Dates
Terms of Reference
  • Rationale
  • Planning area
  • Schedule
  • Approval
  • 45 day Invitation to Participate
  • Advisory Group Meeting
  • EBR Notice of Proposal
  • Media & mailing lists
  • internet-based consultation
  • Summer 2006
    Background Information And Management Options
  • Preparation and review of Background Information and Management Options Documents
  • Fact Sheets
  • 45 day review period
  • Advisory Group Meeting
  • EBR Notice of Proposal update
  • Media & mailing lists
  • Public open houses, meetings, presentations, issue workshops
  • Internet-based consultation
  • Park Tabloid Article
  • Fall 2006 through to Spring 2007
    Preliminary Park Management Plan
  • Preferred policies and approach based on public review of Management Options
  • 45 day review period
  • Advisory Group Meeting
  • EBR Notice of Proposal update
  • Media & mailing lists
  • Public open houses, meetings, presentations
  • Internet-based consultation
  • Park Tabloid Article
  • Fall 2007
    Approved Park Management Plan
  • Approved management plan
  • Advisory Group Meeting
  • EBR Notice of Decision and 45 day public inspection
  • Summer 2008

    *Note: it is intended that the plan will be completed prior to the 2009 Quetico/Superior Centennial


    The EBR is legislation which is built on the principle that residents of Ontario may participate in the making of environmentally significant decisions of the government. Since the Quetico Park management plan is considered to be environmentally significant, the management planning process for Quetico Provincial Park will incorporate EBR public consultation. In addition, a Statement of Environmental Values (SEV) Briefing Note will be prepared to document how the purposes of the EBR and MNR’s SEV have been considered and incorporated into the park management planning process.

    Consultation in park planning is also a legal requirement under the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves, which states: “MNR shall apply the direction provided in the approved version of the following documents (as amended from time to time) to the planning and management of existing and recommended provincial parks:

    • Ontario’s Living Legacy Land Use Strategy (1999)
    • Ontario Provincial Parks Policy (1992)
    • Ontario Provincial Parks Planning and Management Policies (1992)
    • Ontario Provincial Parks Directives (policies, procedures, bulletins, manuals, standards)

    Consultation is integral to the success of the park management planning process. Groups, individuals and organizations may provide input throughout all stages of the process.

    All input will be treated in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to ensure confidentiality of personal information.

    A combination of the following tools will be used so that all interested citizens have the opportunity to be heard.

    Mandatory Contact List
    Park management policy directive PM 11.02.02 prescribes a number of mandatory contacts who will receive all public notices and planning documents associated with the planning process. The contacts listed are primarily stakeholder or non-government organizations with provincial interests. Contact with municipalities, government ministries, First Nations and local citizens is mandatory.

    Use of Media
    All formal public notices will be advertised in local newspapers and posted at key locations in the area communities. This will be supplemented by mailouts within some of the communities not served by the local papers. Consideration may be given to distribution of press releases at key points in the planning process to local, regional and selected provincial media (print, TV, radio). Aboriginal media opportunities will be utilized. The Quetico Provincial Park tabloid will be used to encourage involvement in the management planning process, and will permit distribution of this information to a broader audience.

    EBR Registry
    The Environmental Bill of Rights electronic registry will be used to post the registry proposal files associated with the invitation to participate and the inspection of the terms of reference, the release of the background information report, the management alternatives document and the preliminary park management plan. A registry decision file will be posted to mark the release of the approved park management plan. These postings will ensure that the public is aware of the opportunities for public input into the planning process at a provincial level.

    MNR Internal Distribution
    Standard program briefing notes will be used to advise area, district, region, zone and MNR main office program staff of significant developments in the planning process (e.g. release of public documents). The MNR intranet will also be used for this purpose.

    Information Sites
    The public will be able to access planning information at sites to be determined in each area community and First Nation, as well as at MNR district, area and regional offices. Information displays about the plan review may be included at consumer trade shows.

    Ontario Parks Homepage and Internet
    The Ontario Parks website will be used to provide a link to post public notices and planning documents. An internet-based consultation process will be employed to engage the broad range of groups and individuals in the plan review, including US, other province and European input. This will help to communicate information about the management planning process, issues, comments and updates to a broad range of park users.

    Information Centres and Meetings
    Information centres and/or meetings will be held in the area communities to solicit information, comment and involvement from the public. These will occur during the background information/management options review stage as well as during the preliminary park management plan review stage at:

    • Lac la Croix First Nation
    • Atikokan
    • Thunder Bay
    • Fort Frances
    • Ely, Minnesota
    These meetings and/or information centres will present opportunities for the public to easily access draft strategies and planning staff and to be able to discuss their perspectives directly with the planning team. Beyond the formal avenues and opportunities built into the planning process, informal and formal presentations, meetings and discussions with groups, agencies and individuals will be undertaken as required.


    Once approved, these terms of reference will provide a framework for reviewing the Quetico Provincial Park Management Plan. It is understood that, given the nature of terms of reference, they are not intended to present every detail of all the activities that will occur in undertaking the management plan review. It is therefore possible that in carrying out the work contemplated by these terms of reference, it may become evident that certain modifications to the approved terms will be necessary. Any proposed significant changes will require the approval by the Director of Ontario Parks.

    You can also read Our Response to the Terms of Reference.


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