The County of Simcoe will be executing a controlled burn on 30 hectares (74 acres) of forests within the Museum Tract at Midhurst, adjacent to the Simcoe County Museum. It’s scheduled to occur this fall as early as conditions permit after mid-September. The exact date cannot be determined as it will be dictated by site and weather conditions. During the controlled burn, a section of Anne St. North, directly adjacent to the site between Snow Valley Road and Highway 26, will be closed.
Once the date has been confirmed, every effort will be made to inform residents, stakeholders and media through a variety of communication channels, including Twitter: @simcoecounty and @simcoecountyCS, Facebook: @CountyofSimcoe, and at simcoe.ca.
Fire is a critical element for the renewal of some forest types. Due to the ecological benefits of fire, controlled burning is widely used by forest managers to help in the renewal process. This burn will serve multiple purposes such as: reducing fire risk at the site by burning debris in a controlled manner, clearing debris to allow for reforestation, supporting the release of nutrients to improve growing conditions for target species and helping to reduce some of the non-native invasive species currently on site. In particular, burning will reduce the seed and subsequent re-growth of Scots pine, one of the non-native species which needs to be eliminated to achieve desired results.
The Museum Tract controlled burn is a key step in preparing the site for a significant forest restoration and habitat creation project on the property being led by the county. The restoration involves the removal of existing vegetation (largely non-native/exotic plants and trees) and re-planting of approximately 160,000 native trees. In addition to the significant tree planting effort, the site will be over-seeded with a mix of native plant and shrub seeds to establish a diverse groundcover. With this project, the county will be joining an international recovery effort for the Kirtland’s Warbler, a globally endangered and rare migratory bird. Funding has been received from the Government of Canada, through the Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk (HSP) and American Forests.
County council approved the Forests Management Plan in 2011 to guide policies through 2030. The plan outlines that fire has historically played a primary role in influencing the composition and structure of our forests and that utilizing fire in a controlled way is an important management tool. Controlled burns have been conducted previously within the county forests, most recently in 2014 within the Brentwood Tract at Clearview Township.
A highly-experienced company has been retained to plan and conduct the burn, with trained and experienced personnel on site until it is completely extinguished. The operation is anticipated to be conducted over a three-day period, if weather permits. Smoke will be minimized by burning under specific wind and atmospheric conditions. However, there will be stages of the operation when large amounts of low-lying smoke are generated, while at other times a very large smoke column will be visible for many miles.
Visit simcoe.ca/restorationproject for details about the project.