Simcoe County to execute controlled burn on forests this week

Simcoe County is executing a controlled burn on 100 acres of forest in the region on Thursday and into Friday.

The fire will take place in forests within the Tosorontio Tract in the Township of Adjala Tosorontio.

“This particular area of forest is dominated by red oak, and red oak is a species that actually requires a site disturbance like a fire in order to regenerate properly,” Simcoe County forester Graeme Davis said. “This burn is being designed to create the right conditions to continue to promote oak as sort of a next generation of forest.”

If Simcoe County does not conduct the burn, Davis added, eventually the forest will transition to other types of trees, including sugar maple, which is more suited to heavy shading conditions.

“It’s about diversity of habitat types,” Davis said. “It’s important to have a full range of different types and ages of forest in natural areas to provide habitat for a whole range of species.”

According to Simcoe County, there will be times when large amounts of low-lying smoke will be present from the burn.

At some points while the fire takes place, a large smoke column protruding hundreds of feet into the atmosphere may be seen for many kilometres.

According to Davis, there’s been a decline of natural forest fires that have occurred in the area.

“If you look back historically, there would have been occasional fires that were important for the way different types of forest regenerate,” he added. “In this part of the world, in particular through central Ontario, natural fires are a very rare occurrence.”

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Simcoe County does not anticipate any road closures or major disruptions to local residents during the fire.

People who live close to the burn site and have chronic health conditions may wish to stay indoors, the county says.

Residents can also keep their doors and windows closed to reduce smoke in their homes and businesses, the county adds.

Lands and Forests Consulting has been hired to plan and conduct the burn. The company and trained staff will be on site until the fire is completely extinguished.

“It’s in a relatively remote area, given where we are in Simcoe County,” Davis said. “We don’t anticipate any significant impact to local residents.”

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