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Job cuts and office closures are coming to Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources as it chops $70 million or 10 per cent of its spending over three years, Minister Michael Gravelle confirmed Thursday.
“These are tough decisions,” he acknowledged at a news conference, overshadowing the release of a plan to protect woodland caribou in a huge chunk of wilderness between Timmins and James Bay.
The deal, reached after negotiations with forestry firms and First Nations that signed the 2010 Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, would also allow logging companies to cut down 20 per cent more spruce trees over the next 30 years.
The proposal — which covers an area five times the size of Toronto — would protect 800,000 hectares of caribou habitat while leaving 2.2 million hectares further south open to forestry. “In the southern zone we haven’t seen caribou for some time,” said Janet Sumner, executive director of the conservation group CPAWS-Wildlands League, which supports the plan.
“It’s going to continue to keep jobs,” added Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren.
Gravelle said the proposal, which still requires government approval, is “balancing what’s best for industry, for northern communities and for the protection of the woodland caribou.”
The caribou is considered a species-at-risk and needs land free of development to roam and breed. Sumner said it’s not known how many caribou are in the area.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1218985–ministry-of-natural-resources-job-cuts-office-closures-coming-province-says