www.AlgonquinAdventures.comPreserve and Protect Algonquinwww.AlgonquinAdventures.com

The "Preserve and Protect" initiative was started early in 2002, as an internal part of www.AlgonquinAdventures.com. By 2004, efforts were being made by Algonquin Park to enhance management methods. As a result, "Preserve and Protect" was optimistically put to rest, in the hope that the park's problems would soon disappear.

Unfortunately since then, further ministry budget cut-backs have resulted in a recurrence of and an increase in problems for the interior of Algonquin Park. A later public effort, to address issues impacting on the backcountry of the park, was in the form of the Algonquin Backcountry Recereationalists (ABR). Started late in 2007, it was successful in a number of endeavors. However, continued ministry budget cut-backs and the ministry's resulting inability to respond to concerns, led to the dissolution of the ABR in early 2015.

Barry Bridgeford . . . (October, 2016)

October 27, 2003
A year has gone by since the inception of Preserve and Protect Algonquin. Since that time, several observations are worth mentioning. The original reported incidents represented the 2002 camping season and clearly documented its deficiency both in the education and enforcement of regulations. Park Superintendent John Winters became appreciative of the concerns expressed in our Incident Log and of our effort to propogate ethical guidelines for park use. In preparations for the 2003 summer season, some park wardens' duties were re-aligned to include more overnight interior trips via logging road and water access. This extended the wardens' inspection and enforcement functions deeper into the park interior, allowing them to perform more like the traditional 'rangers' of old.

While attending the October 22nd, 2003 Toronto session of the First Information Centre - Algonquin Park Forest 2005 - 2025 Forest Management Plan, I talked with numerous Parks Ontario and MNR senior staff, as well as AFA representatives. It was apparent to me that while education and enforcement still need improvement, there have been some distinct efforts to maximize resources toward this end. Undoubtedly, some of the efforts have the side benefit of reducing operating costs. While the park's revised short-term efforts appear to incorporate some increased enforcement, it's clear that their long-term plans depend on re-aligning their limited resources to increase user-education.

A prime example of combining increased user-education with decreased operating costs is the park's increased promotion of the Minimum Impact philosophy, to foster "If you pack it in, you pack it out" and the taking home of camping garbage. This ties in with the park's progressive removal of garbage buildings from access points, trailhead parking lots, scenic pull-offs and picnic grounds ... thus reducing both collection and disposal costs.

The encouraging changes that have started to happen through the 2003 season don't mean we should drop the Preserve and Protect initiative. Rather, the start of changes tells us that our concerns are not being ignored. Continue communicating your concerns to both this website and the government officials responsible for Algonquin Park. Just remember that specific details, photographic illustration, constructive suggestions and a friendly tone go a long way toward making effective communications of our concerns for Algonquin Park's preservation and protection.

And please don't forget that with the installation of the newly elected provincial government which occurred on October 23rd, there's an entirely new set of ministers and assistant staff that are now responsible for our parks and resources. The weeks ahead are an ideal time to welcome them to office with your comments, concerns and hopes for Algonquin Park.

December 10, 2002
This initiative is aimed to give the "powers-that-be" the message that we are concerned over the degradation occurring to the campgrounds, camp sites, portages, trails and shorelines of Algonquin as a direct result of not enough wardens, conservation officers and their regular patrols. It's hoped that as we continue to strongly express the need for the enforcement of existing park regulations, the Ministry of Natural Resources will receive adequate funding to establish effective warden and conservation officer programs. As well as lobbying directly, you're encouraged to promote compliance with the regulations governing the use of Algonquin Park and to tell all your friends and acquaintances about the Preserve and Protect Algonquin initiative.


The management of staff and the overseeing of park staff came under new control in 1996 when the provincial parks system adopted a new entrepreneurial operating model (Ontario Parks .. a distinct branch of the MNR) where revenue generated by parks can be reinvested in the parks system. This was considered to be a more efficient and self-supporting provision of services.

A lot of responsibilty has now fallen from the government to non-profit groups (like The Friends of Algonquin) to try to provide awareness and education about Algonquin to park visitors.

Unfortunately, the increasing impression is that there's nolonger a higher social authority nor a public responsibility for our parks and natural world. Each component of the process is now perceived to be operating in efficient isolation .. each focused on its own "year-end".

There always were a few antisocial, hooligan and ignorant visitors that the rangers had to reign-in. But recently there's a definite increase in uninformed and uncaring visitors practising trashing, burning and other destructive behavior. Trash-piles, burned-out sites, killed trees, dangerous activities and damaged equipment are now being observed increasingly in Algonquin Park.

In January of 2003, John Winters (Superintendent of Algonquin Provincial Park) supplied these statistics from the year 2001

No breakdown was supplied between campground and interior stats, leaving one to wonder how much attention was being paid to the interior. Regardless of the areas from which these stats came, visitor observations from campgrounds and the interior both indicate unacceptable degradation of facilities and their associated natural environment.

The following are unofficial estimates of current (2002) Algonquin Park staff levels . . .

From the incidents being observed by park visitors, it appears that the park's severely reduced staff levels are being "multi-tasked" to the point where they can neither effectively educate visitors nor effectively enforce regulations.
One of many killed campsite trees.

Algonquin Provincial Park Management Plan (1998)
Chapter 9 - Operations Policies (page 44)
    "Recreation management ... The Provincial Parks Act and its regulations are enforced by conservation officers, deputy conservation officers and park wardens. Algonquin Park officers also enforce up to 16 other provincial statutes including the Game and Fish Act, Liquor Licence Act, Fisheries Act and regulations under them.

    - Regulatory controls are introduced or modified as required.

    - Officers also provide some assistance to other operational or management programs, such as the animal control program.

    - Personal contact is an effective means of delivering enforcement and public education messages, but Park signage and publications (e.g. tabloids and canoe route maps) are also essential in relaying important regulatory messages and to further educate the public in recreation management problems. In campgrounds, the information covers noise and liquor-related offences while Interior information emphasizes regulations governing campfire use, can and bottle ban, fishing limits and the cutting of live vegetation. Future changes in management policies may occur to facilitate recreation management."

Ministry of Natural Resources of Ontario states that their mandate includes ...
    "conserving and managing Ontario's natural resources - our forest ecosystems, fish and wildlife resources, Crown lands and waters, and provincially significant natural and recreational areas, including provincial parks and conservation reserves."
They go on to say ...
    "goals will be achieved by striving for excellence through leadership, meeting or exceeding service standards and being responsive to customer needs."

You can read the ministry's entire 2002 - 2003 business plan at www.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/csb/message/plan.html.

On July 13th, 1998, irresponsible campers built a lunch fire amidst bone-dry conditions and set the trees of the Booth Rock cliff on fire. It took 59 water-bomber runs, almost 27,000 gallons of water, a 17 person ground crew, 4 days to control, another 4 days to totally extinguish and an operational bill of $46,000. These stark, burned trees will scar the view for years to come.

Clarification of Terms

It's important that we understand and use the same terms used by the bureaucrats and politicians who are involved in the management of Ontario's provincial parks.

For example, many of us consider the term "ranger" to represent the park staff-person who goes out on patrol, advising campers about appropriate practices and enforcing park regulations by charging violators.

However for years now in Ontario, the term "ranger" has been officially applied to the Ontario Ranger Program (www.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/youthprograms/ranger.html). This is an eight week job program that provides 17 year olds with park maintenance work. Participants are required to stay at a Ranger camp for the duration of their work term.

Likewise for years now in Ontario (until impacted by re-organization and funding cutbacks), those who are trained to go out on patrol, advising campers about appropriate practices and enforcing park regulations are officially named "conservation officers, deputy conservation officers and park wardens".

The ambiguity between "traditional" and "revised" terms, could easily result in a bureaucrat or politician proudly stating, for example, that 36 new "rangers" were assigned to a park during the summer of a given year, while in reality not a single new "conservation officer, deputy conservation officer or park warden" operated in that park.

If we hope to prompt meaningful and honest responses from bureaucrats and politicians, we have to be informed, accurate, clear and direct in our communications to them. We have to be clear in the terms we use and not leave any room for confusion.

The Beginning of Preserve and Protect Algonquin

On December 3rd of 2002, David Wickens posted concerns on the Message Board about campers, bears and park rangers ... "Time For A Change With Algonquin's Park Rangers". I responded by describing changes that Algonquin Park's operation had gone through in recent years, much to the park's detriment ... "Bring Back The Ranger!". It resulted in the most intense series of postings on one topic to ever show up on the Message Board. Some of the more detailed and emphatic postings are archived here.