Spawning salmon, access roads and hidden agendas

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I grew up on the Upper Salmonier River chasing salmon, it was a family tradition. In the 1930s my grandfather had a cabin and smokehouse at Murphy’s Falls.
When my father returned from the Second World War he (and some friends) purchased another cabin there.
And we still have a cabin there, so I have been enjoying the river all my life.
This will be my 58th year. But I am more concerned now than ever about the future of the river and its salmon.

And that is because the proposed 11-kilometre Big Triangle Pond Access Road makes no mention of its possible impacts on the salmon.

I guess the authors of the proposal don’t know the real meaning of the word “access.”

This proposed road will easily open up access to the salmon's spawning grounds to everyone.

And this is not good for the salmon as the best single predictor of healthy salmon runs in rivers in this province today is the ease of access to the salmon’s spawning grounds.

Rivers whose spawning grounds are easily accessed are in trouble. Just look at what the forest access roads did to the rivers in Bay St. George.

Why do you think Harry’s River is in trouble?

My God, the salmon conservation groups even opened up previously inaccessible spawning habitat to the Gander and Exploits River salmon to improve the runs.

And there are many more examples.

Yet the tiny Salmonier River, with its thousands of anglers, smack in the middle of fully half of this province’s population, remains quite healthy.

And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know why.

As a minimum, it’s a two-hour trek or a 12-kilometre canoe trip to the salmon’s spawning grounds.

Yes, even here on the Avalon — with all of our oil riches and expanding population — we have some true wilderness left.

But that will all change if this road goes through.

If there is anywhere in this province that we need to preserve a little true wilderness, its on the overpopulated Avalon.

Are you listening Premier Tom Marshall, Minister Joan Shea?

But access is not the only problem with this proposal for that 11-kilometre road.

In reality, this entire proposal is ass-backwards. You don't need a road to do mineral exploration.

Above all, Albert Chislett knows this.

 Sure this road will make it easier for him, but at what cost?

What ever happened to helicopters and winter access? Or the

use of the major highway (the Salmonier Line) that is very closely parallel to the entire proposed road?

What's wrong with using this highway and a few spur roads?

And furthermore, this proposal itself makes it clear that this exploration is unlikely to result in the establishment of a commercial mine.

Most explorations produce nothing.

So what are we likely to be left with — an 11-km-road to nowhere?

Or will it be to nowhere?

Currently, the Government is selling cabin lots in the Salmonier Line area for $50,000 each. Could this be the government’s hidden agenda for this road?

Why am I so suspicious of this Government?

If Premier Marshall and Minister Shea are sincere about a truly “Open Government,” they should say to Mr. Chislett and his proposal: “Bring it back in six years if you plan to build a mine there!”

Rick Maddigan

St. John’s

Geographic location: Big Triangle Pond Access Road, Exploits River, Salmonier River Salmonier Line

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Recent comments

  • Coming Back Ta Bite Ya
    April 01, 2014 - 18:30

    Just try it PC's and see what happens in 2015. Aquaculture mess, Manolis L screw up, Hydro mess, scallop die offs, and now build a road to nowhere in the last areas next to town that's wild.....just try it!

  • Opponents of Big Triangle
    March 25, 2014 - 08:00

    I strongly encourage a government that listens to the people.... this is something our current government is not doing. This proposed road will have far more impact on the social well being of many people than it will provide any benefits. This road will destroy a key recreational area to the citizens of the Avalon. This road will likely result in little to no economic impact to the region other than turning away recreational users than spend their money in the area. We are learning that our government doesnt care about salmon, wildlife nor the environment. Word out there is that this project is going to get the green light....we need as many voices on the oppostion to this as we can get. Hit them were we can make a real change...at the ballot box. We will be starting our ABC campaign if this gets a green light.

  • Steve
    March 25, 2014 - 07:43

    I wonder if the people who paid $50,000 for cabin lots knew they might have an open-pit gold mine for a neighbor in 6 years time? Blasting, drilling, excavating, polluted water, diesel exhaust... just what you want next door when you're trying to relax and enjoy nature! Every cabin owner in the province should be concerned about this proposal. If the government lets this go ahead in this area, nobody's property will be safe from these types of things in the future.

  • Jeff
    March 25, 2014 - 06:52

    Rick, I have no doubt they are not listening. Public engagement is a farce. Minister Kent, Minister French and Minister Shea can't even return e-mails or calls let alone take a stance on this issue. My guess you are right and this is about land the back door way. They will face fierce backlash if they approve this approve. This project will ruin the last Wilderness on the Avalon along with the Salmon Rivers.

    • Corporate Psycho
      March 25, 2014 - 07:44

      Kent is too busy on twitter spreading misinformation.

  • Cabin Owner
    March 25, 2014 - 06:11

    Even better Mr. Marshall and Ms. Shea, recognize the high social and ecological values that this area embodies and tell Mr. Chislett to take his millions and go explore for minerals somewhere else where he won't bother anybody. It will be interesting to see if this government really is prepared to listen to the people.

  • Cashin Delaney
    March 25, 2014 - 04:38

    Another example of why we would be a better country without provincial governments, especially our crackpots in office. The municipality and the Feds would be able to properly evaluate this activity, without producing conspiracy theories, without OPEN GOVERNMENT( a public farce). I don't doubt that the road will result in future cabin lots before a Chinese-backed gold mine ensues. Compare this idea for a pre-exploration road with Vale still not having a proper year-round access road to their Reid Brook brownfield exploration area this past 10 years? Budgets, politics, tax write-offs, whatever it is, normal logic cannot follow it, and mere provincialness is likely the overarching cause. If we can't bring Vale to justice (put off until Jan.23/15) for leaking their effluent on Nain cabin owners in Anaktalok Bay, can we really scapegoat Al Chislett before he gets started on this pet project? I imagine Labrador residents are very very concerned with the plight of Murphy's Falls and Father Duffy's Well, and when production time comes, Keith Russell (or some other vapid, jowly politico) will shout, "MUMBO JUMBO! Get 'er done!". Get rid of the thuggish provincial government in Canada that prevent us from being Canadian. Let Vale, and Albert deal with logic, and not crackpots. This road may just be a ploy to see how much dissent is out there, before scaling down the plan. It may indeed be a logical efficent plan to maximise drilling meters, and find gold, and minimise disturbance. If Al doesn't speak, he is like Ed Martin, without the suit. Without the white head, and suit, there is no credibility. Al's only hope is to talk about what he is doing and work with stakeholders. He does not have an army of crackpots to cover for him with this gossipocracy. At least Al is not directly robbing you all to foot the construction bill (I hope!).

    • Dolf
      March 25, 2014 - 15:36

      Oh yeah? This government has screwed up so much it would sell it's soul for a buck, no matter where it comes from. (But this government is your MHA and mine, says a lot about the character of Newfoundlanders once they get on the government teat).