Prescribed Burn in High Park Will Protect Rare Forest

Prescribed Burn in High Park Will Protect Rare Forest

Did you know that High Park has a rare forest of black oak woodlands and savannahs?

This rare forest needs your tender loving care (TLC) and tender loving protection (TLP)!

The latter comes as a prescribed (or “controlled”) burn in order to kill off competing vegetation, enrich the soil and promote growth and germination of the rare savannah species.

In early to mid April, the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation will safely undertake  a prescribed burn in High Park when there are ideal weather conditions.

The ideal weather conditions will ensure that the smoke of the prescribed burn will lift and move away from the surrounding neighbourhoods.

If you have asthma or high sensitivity to poison ivy, the City advises you to  limit your exposure to smoke by keeping windows closed or leaving the area on the afternoon of the burn.

Larger trees will not be harmed because the fire that is carefully controlled by the “Fire Boss” will only burn low to the ground and consume dried leaves, small twigs and grass stems.

The purpose of prescribed burns is to protect and sustain Toronto’s rare black oak woodlands and savannahs in High Park, Lambton Park and South Humber Park as part of the long-term management plan of rare forests in Toronto.

News Release

March 16, 2011

Controlled burn in High Park this spring will protect rare forest

City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation will undertake a prescribed (or “controlled”) burn in High Park in early to mid April. A prescribed burn is a deliberately set and carefully controlled fire that burns low to the ground and consumes dried leaves, small twigs and grass stems but does not harm larger trees. The actual date of the prescribed burn will be planned to coincide with ideal weather conditions and will be announced 24 to 48 hours prior to the burn.

Park use will be restricted during the burn. Notices will be placed at park entrances advising users that the burn is taking place on the specific scheduled date. People walking in the park will be restricted from entering areas that are being burned, and park users should expect some temporary road closures in High Park on the day of the burn.

Prescribed burns have been safely executed in the past by the City’s Urban Forestry unit, and are part of the long-term management plan to protect and sustain Toronto’s rare black oak woodlands and savannahs in High Park, Lambton Park and South Humber Park. These rare vegetation communities are at risk of extinction not only in Toronto but throughout North America. In order to survive, these vegetation communities depend on periodic fires to kill off competing vegetation, enrich the soil and promote growth and germination of the rare savannah species.

Under ideal weather conditions, the smoke from the prescribed burns will lift and will not affect surrounding neighbourhoods. However, it is possible that some smoke will reach residential areas near the park. Individuals with asthma or high sensitivity to poison ivy may wish to limit their exposure to smoke by keeping windows closed or leaving the area on the afternoon of the burn.

A Fire Boss with extensive provincial firefighting and prescribed burning experience has written the approved burn plan. “Fire Boss” is an Ontario designation for a certified individual who has full responsibility for planning and carrying out a burn with a qualified crew. Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff will assist with the burn, and Toronto’s Fire and Police Services will also be on hand to assist as needed.

During the months to follow, City staff, scientists, naturalists and volunteers from the community will monitor and analyze the beneficial effects of the burn and implement additional forest management as required.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. Toronto’s government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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