Midhurst/ December 2, 2016 – The Simcoe County Forest continues to hold the title as the largest municipally owned forest in Ontario growing to more than 32,700 total acres with the recent acquisition of a new 104 acre (42 hectare) property located in Bradford West Gwillimbury.
The property will be added to the Simcoe County Forest as the Kirkup Woods, recognizing the family name of the previous property owners. While the County has added more than 3,700 acres to the Simcoe County Forest in the last decade, this acquisition is significant as it adds Simcoe County Forest acreage in the southern portion of the County, an area that continues to see significant growth and development.
About the Kirkup Woods:
The Kirkup Woods is located at Part Lot 18, Concession 12 in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury. The County has many important responsibilities and services it must balance and this investment in the 104 acre parcel of forest property supports the County's strategic direction to safeguard our environment and natural resources. In particular, the Kirkup Woods contains diverse woodlands along with streams and associated valleylands, and provides significant wildlife habitat in an area that has limited forest cover.
Kirkup Woods has been an integral part of a larger Kirkup family farm operated first in 1921 by Robert and Mary Kirkup and then followed by their son Robert Douglas and his wife Gladys Moriarty Kirkup. Douglas and Gladys lived on the farm until their deaths in 1991. From the farm's earliest days, horses were used in the woods: hauling sap for making maple syrup; selectively harvesting trees; moving timber to be milled for lumber; and delivering cordwood by sled. The woods has also served as a playground and a constant reminder about the importance of the environment for Kirkup siblings and their children.
Simcoe County Forest facts:
- Largest in Ontario and Growing: At more than 32,700 acres and still growing, the Simcoe County Forest is the largest municipally-owned forest in Ontario and among the largest of its kind in Canada with over 150 properties ranging in size from 13 to over 3,500 acres. The County of Simcoe is one of the few municipalities in Ontario that continues to invest in additional lands to ensure that the substantial environmental, social and economic benefits continue into the future. Within the past decade, the County Forest has expanded by more than 3,700 acres (including the addition of the Kirkup Woods). While small sections of the forest may be used for other purposes, management of the Simcoe County Forest is guided by the 20 year Forest Management Plan (2011-2030).
- Planting new Forests: More than 20 million trees have been planted within the County Forest since inception, with more than 240,000 seedlings planted within the last five years. Furthermore, $35,000 from forestry revenues is directed annually to local agencies to support tree planting on private lands within our communities.
- Self-Sustaining: The County Forest is economically self-sustaining and operates without the use of tax-dollars. As a 'working forest', approximately 1,200 to 1,500 acres are thinned annually to maintain forest health, improve future timber values and achieve other objectives. All revenue from the sustainable management of the Forest, which averages about $1.4 million per year, is directed back into management activities and the strategic acquisition of additional lands. The Simcoe County Forest is wholly owned by the County of Simcoe; it is not Crown land and as a managed forest, it provides an important economic benefit to the County and therefore all residents who enjoy these lands.
- Stewardship: County of Simcoe Forestry received Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) re-certification by the Rainforest Alliance in 2015, meeting the FSC's strict environmental and social standards. The County first achieved FSC® certification in July 2010, and is widely recognized for its conservation efforts and ongoing forest expansion initiatives. Learn more about the FSC® certification program at https://ca.fsc.org/index.htm
"We have the largest municipally-owned forest in Ontario and continue to be one of the only municipalities in province that invests in acquiring new forest properties on this scale. By reinvesting forestry revenue right back into the program, we continue to expand our forestry stewardship, protect more forest lands and provide recreational opportunities to our residents and visitors." – County of Simcoe Warden Gerry Marshall
"We are thrilled to have the support to be able to add a unique and rare parcel of forest land in an area of the County that continues to see significant growth and development. It is also gratifying to know that the Kirkups' are so pleased to see the family property become a Simcoe County Forest." – Graeme Davis, County of Simcoe Forester
"The Kirkup family is most happy to know that the conservation legacy of our parents will continue. Serving as a resource for our family farm, playground for our family and nurturing our lasting love and passion for the outdoors, we cherish these woods and are extremely pleased that this habitat will be preserved for future generations." – Paul A Kirkup, Shirley M. Smith, Carolyn J Kirkup, Katharine E Binks, and Marilyn D Kirkup (widow of Jack D Kirkup).
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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