County of Simcoe forestry to conduct controlled burn in Midhurst

The County of Simcoe administration centre on Highway 26. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

The county of Simcoe will be carrying out a large controlled burn in county forests within the Museum Tract in Midhurst.

According to a press release issued by the county on Tuesday, officials will begin burning 30 hectares of county forests adjacent to the Simcoe County Museum on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

County officials expect the burn will take two days, weather permitting.

According to the release, during this time a section of Anne Street North between Snow Valley Road and Highway 26 will be closed.

“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 release reads.

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County officials say 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 will be generated. At other times a very large smoke column will be visible for many miles.

However, officials are assuring residents that the smoke and fire will be closely monitored and controlled.

According to the county, the fire is a “critical element” for the renewal of the forest and will serve multiple purposes including reducing the fire risk by burning debris, clearing debris to allow for reforestation, support the release of nutrients to improve growing conditions for target species and help to reduce some of the non-native invasive species currently on site.

The county says the controlled burn is one part of a larger forest restoration project.

“The Museum Tract controlled burn is a key step in preparing for a significant forest restoration and habitat creation project on the property being led by the county,” the release reads.

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According to the release, the restoration plan involves the removal of existing vegetation and replanting of approximately 160,000 native trees. The site will also be over-seeded with a mix of native plant and shrub seeds to establish a “diverse groundcover.”

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Officials say with this project, the county will be joining in an international recovery effort for the Kirtland’s warbler, a globally endangered migratory bird.

According to the release, funding for the project was received by the government of Canada through Environment and Climate Change Canada’s habitat stewardship program for species at risk (HSP) and American Forests.

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