Permits needed in Kawartha Highlands

I can’t believe I’m saying this but Kawartha Highlands needs a permit system. Let me explain. First off, I love the aspect of canoeing the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park at present, without the hassle of making and paying for a reservation. Not only does it create a cheap outing but also provides a perfect place to paddling on a whim. My schedule doesn’t necessarily dictate when I’ll be free next and the idea of just packing up the night before and heading to Crab Lake or Buzzard for the weekend is amazing; especially since the park itself is only half-an-hour away from my house in Peterborough.

So why is it that I’ve come to the conclusion that the permit system, scheduled to be initiated in the next couple of years, is a positive thing? It’s because the last dozen times I went paddling their this season I not only had to fight for a campsite every night but I also witnessed so much misuse of the park that it’s become obvious that some type of management is far more important then my selfish needs of wanting to go paddling anytime I want. If it’s not managed, then the real reason the park was established — to protect the natural integrity — will be next to impossible.

Again, I’m not saying I’m happy about having to reserve a spot to camp, especially after years of not having to, but it’s definitely a necessary evil.

Take my last trip their as an example. I was camped on Coon Lake by noon on a Saturday, getting the last site available. Between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm a total of five groups (totaling 18 paddlers) wandered in looking for a site. All of them made their own. On the way out I assisted a total of three groups who were “lost’ en route and hadn’t a clue where the portages were; I packed two full bags of garbage from my site alone; and I dodged over a dozen boats stored at one of the portage take-outs.

It’s getting crazy out there. And to think, the first time I paddled this very route (1986) I discovered that the route was no longer maintained by the Ministry of Natural Resources because the lack of use by paddlers and the lack of money to maintain it by the government. That information spawned my first guide book — A Paddlers Guide to Cottage Country. How ironic is that!

What’s your opinion on this issue? Send a response and share your ideas.