Mush­room sea­son among old-growth pine

North Bay Nugget - - NEWS - Back Roads Bill steer

(Ed­i­tor’s note, Bill Steer was re­cently in Temagami ex­plor­ing the White Bear For­est trails east of the fire tower.)

the fall mush­room caps are pok­ing their heads out of the ground and in one lo­ca­tion are dwarfed by some of the largest trees in our area.

the most ac­ces­si­ble ex­am­ple of old-growth red and white pine is found within the White bear For­est on the east side of hwy. 11 in temagami.

the trails me­an­der through a 1,242 hectare con­ser­va­tion re­serve, char­ac­ter­ized by a rolling plain of rock knob up­lands.

“From a for­est man­age­ment per­spec­tive, manag­ing to main­tain a tar­get area of old-grow forests is an im­por­tant part of a healthy for­est,” says guy­laine thau­vette, man­age­ment forester with the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral re­sources and Forestry. “Most of to­day’s old-growth stands and trees are there be­cause they could not be logged. Old-growth forests, over time, suc­ceed to other types of forests.”

Old-growth forests are char­ac­ter­ized by a num­ber of struc­tural and eco­log­i­cal fea­tures. the most ob­vi­ous fea­ture is the abun­dance of huge, old trees that tower far above the lower lev­els of the for­est, along with wide spac­ing be­tween and mul­ti­ple canopy lay­ers and rates of change in species com­po­si­tion.

Sev­eral trees of be­tween 85 and 100 cm di­am­e­ter can be seen from the trail and one of the largest white pines mea­sures 115 cm across at chest height and is more than 350 years of age.

the for­est takes its name from the last chief of the teme augama an­ishn­abai tribe be­fore the ar­rival of euro­peans to this area. chief White bear and his fam­ily used this for­est as part of their hunt­ing and trap­ping grounds.

In 1928, the gillies bros. log­ging com­pany won the log­ging rights sur­round­ing cas­sels and rab­bit Lakes. gillies pre­served the White bear For­est in its vir­gin state for its em­ploy­ees and lo­cal res­i­dents to en­joy.

doug adams has owned the nearby North­land Par­adise Lodge for 32 years.

“I do guide in­ter­pre­tive tours through the old pines and we pho­to­graph count­less wild na­tive or­chids and mush­rooms,” adams says. “Fire scars on the trunks of these gi­ants tell the true story of na­ture in all its grandeur. (On my hik­ing day three was 42 in at­ten­dance for the mush­room hike.)

For the print­able map, go to www.an­cient­for­est.org.

It is an hon­est day if you hike from the tower via the north side of the red loop to the or­ange cross trail to ac­cess the blue loop. It is rec­om­mended you hike clock­wise to the beaver trail and east to bi­sect the or­ange trail; the south por­tion of the blue loop be­yond the or­ange is not well trod­den.

your best bet is to ca­noe to the blue loop. Map ref­er­ence, a6; 1 km from the rail­way sta­tion (Steven’s road) and pad­dle three km Se down Pe­cours bay to a2, south side of the blue loop.

bet­ter still, go the boat launch via Steven’s road, which be­comes Fox run road, five km to a7 and then pad­dle SSW one km to a3, north­east side of the blue loop.

Bill Steer, founder of the Cana­dian Ecol­ogy Cen­tre, www. cana­di­ane­col­ogy.ca, teaches part time at Nipiss­ing Uni­ver­sity and Canadore Col­lege. You can reach him at wilston­steer@ gmail.com; www.steerto.com

Bill Steer photo

The mush­rooms are out un­der the canopy of old-growth red and white pine trees on the White Bear For­est trails near Temagami.

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