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Skip Navigation LinksSimcoe County > Corporate Communications > County of Simcoe Forestry to conduct controlled burn in the Packard Tract in Essa Township

County of Simcoe Forestry to conduct controlled burn in the Packard Tract in Essa Township


Midhurst/September 2, 2020 – The County of Simcoe will be executing a controlled burn on approximately 27 acres within the Packard Tract in the Township of Essa, located​​ at 8398 Line 9 (at the end of the 9th Line of Essa, south of Highway 90). The controlled burn is expected to be completed in one day and will occur as early as conditions allow between mid-September and the end of October 2020. The exact timing of the burn will be dictated by site and weather conditions and cannot be determined at this time.

The controlled burn will support the second phase of the County's Kirtland's Warbler Habitat Restoration project. More information about the project can be found at https://www.simcoe.ca/Forestry/Pages/Packard-Tract.aspx.

Once the date of the controlled burn has been confirmed, media, stakeholders and the public will be informed through a variety of communication channels, including:

  • County website: www.simcoe.ca
  • Twitter: @simcoecounty and @simcoecountyCS
  • Facebook: @CountyofSimcoe
  • Instagram: @countyofsimcoe
  • Details will also be published through local media outlets (should timelines permit)
  • Stakeholder and near-neighbour communications

A highly experienced company has been retained to plan and conduct the burn, and trained personnel will be on site until the fire is completely extinguished. The impact of the smoke will be minimized by burning under specific wind and atmospheric conditions, however there will be times when large amounts of low-lying smoke will be present. At other stages in the operation, a smoke column may be seen for many miles. There is no cause for alarm, as this is all part of normal operations for the type of fuels being burned. The County does not anticipate any road closures or any major impact or disruption to local residents.

While controlled burns differ from wildfires, in that they are often managed to control smoke exposures to the public and are of much shorter overall durations than forest fires, concerns can arise regarding smoke exposure and health. Smoke exposure may pose a risk for more vulnerable individuals such as children, elderly and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. Here are some simple steps you can take to minimize your exposure to smoke:

  • If you live close to the controlled burn site and have chronic health conditions such as asthma and chronic lung disease, you may wish to minimize your exposure by staying indoors during the burn. If you have health concerns, follow up with your health care provider.
  • If you have concerns regarding exposure to smoke while outdoors, consider reducing your outdoor physical activities near the affected area.
  • To help reduce smoke in your homes and businesses, keep windows and doors closed.

County Council approved the Simcoe County Forest Management Plan to guide our policies through 2030. The Plan outlines that fire has historically played a primary role by influencing the composition, structure and patterns of our forests, and states that fire will continue to be used as a strategy moving forward. This particular controlled burn is part of an international effort to create habitat for the Kirtland's Warbler, a globally endangered migratory bird, in its natural range in Simcoe County. The burn will help to reduce non-native vegetation, create structure important for Kirtland's nesting habitat, and establish a diverse forest of native species.

Controlled burns have been conducted previously within the County Forests. The two most recent burns occurred in 2018 within the Museum Tract in Springwater Township and in 2014 within the Brentwood Tract in Clearview Township.

Public questions and inquiries can be directed to our County Forestry Department by contacting Service Simcoe at 1-800-263-3199 or service@simcoe.ca. More information about the controlled burn can be found at https://www.simcoe.ca/Forestry/Pages/Controlled-Burn-Notification.aspx

About the Kirtland's Warbler
The Kirtland's Warbler is a globally rare and endangered migratory bird which was nearly extinct 50 years ago but has since begun to recover due to multiple habitat projects in North American and abroad. Overwintering occurs in the Lucayan Archipelago (Bahamas, Turk's & Caicos) while its summer breeding grounds are historically within Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario. Kirtland's Warbler requires large tracts of young, dense conifer forest for its nesting habitat, which was probably commonplace within Simcoe County prior to European settlement, land conversion and fire suppression. Suitable habitat also existed in the mid 1900's due to the significant levels of reforestation which occurred at that time.

This project is the second of its kind in Canada, both of which are located in Simcoe County. This project is being funded by Ganawenim Meshkiki - Henvy Inlet First Nations through The Eastern Georgian Bay Initiative with assistance from the Ontario Heritage Trust and the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority.  The first project was a joint international effort between the County of Simcoe, The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), American Forests, Forests Ontario, Savanta Environmental Consultants, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service.

The County of Simcoe is composed of sixteen member municipalities and provides crucial public services to County residents in addition to providing paramedic and social services to the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Visit our website at simcoe.ca.

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Collin Matanowitsch
Manager, Public Relations
County of Simcoe, Service Simcoe Branch
705-734-8386 (mobile)
Collin.Matanowitsch@simcoe.ca ​

Chris Hedley
Public Relations Consultant
County of Simcoe, Service Simcoe Branch
705-715-7654 (mobile)