anitoba Association 44 King’s Drive
of Winnipeg MB
Plant Biologists R3T 3E5
15 September 2004
Honourable Stan Struthers
Minister of Conservation
330 Legislative Building
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
Dear Minister Struthers:
The Manitoba Association of Plant Biologists (MAPB) was formed in 1998 in response to concerns about the lack of emphasis on plant biology in this province. Our members all have formal training in plant biology and one of our objectives is to provide an informed response on plant–related issues.
Recent articles in the news indicate that Tembec wishes to log sections of mixed forest adjacent to Hwy 315 between the bridge over the Bird River and the entrance to Nopiming Provincial Park. MAPB requests that the narrow section of forest between Hwy 315 in the north and Bird River in the south, and between the bridge over the Bird River in the west and Park entrance to the east be preserved because of the presence of unique plant communities, and because it is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Brittle prickly-pear cactus and many other plant species with western prairie affinities (see Appendix A) occur together on at least three south-facing rock outcrops, which border the river in this area. The presence of any one of these plant species may not be of great ecological significance on its own, but their association in large numbers is scientifically very unusual and interesting. We believe that these plant communities are all that are left of a once more widespread grassland that had spread throughout south and central Manitoba as far north as Bissett during the warm Hypsithermal Period (8000-4500 years ago). Climatic cooling about 4000 years ago and a southern expansion of the boreal forest resulted in an isolation of patches of grassland on small, warm micro-sites (south-facing rocks) within this forest zone. MAPB is concerned because these relict plant communities are small and would be seriously threatened by logging within their vicinity. They have received research attention from ecologists at the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg (see Appendix B) and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future.
The Bird River in this section of forest is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and is very popular with canoeists and hikers who enjoy its wild, rocky, moss-covered cliffs, rapids, and tranquility of surrounding forests. River otters and moose are frequently seen and the region has a diversity of interesting breeding bird species, such as Parula and Canada warblers, boreal and great gray owls, ospreys and bald eagles.
For the reasons listed above, MAPB requests that this area not be logged. Rather, this unique site should be set aside and protected from inappropriate development so that it can be studied and enjoyed by future generations.
Cc Mr. Gordon Jones
Mr. Jack Dubois
Mr. John Dojack
Mr. Bruce Bremner
Prairie plant species found on south facing rock outcrops along the Bird River near the entrance to Nopiming Provincial Park
Appendix B –
List of scientific publications with study sites in the Bird River area near the entrance to Nopiming Provincial Park.
Frego, K.A. and R.J. Staniforth. 1985. Factors determining the distribution of Opuntia fragilis in the boreal forest of southeastern Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Botany 63 (12): 2377-2382.
Frego, K.A. and R.J. Staniforth. 1986. The Brittle Prickly-pear Cactus, Opuntia fragilis, in the boreal forest of southeast Manitoba. Canadian Field-Naturalist 100 (2): 229-236.
Frego, K.A. and R.J. Staniforth. 1986. Vegetation sequence on three boreal Manitoban rock outcrops and seral position of Opuntia fragilis. Canadian Journal of Botany 64 (1): 77-84.