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Simcoe County > Packard Project

Packard Tract - Forest and Habitat Restoration Project

In 2018, a 42.5 hectare (105.2 acre) parcel was acquired as an addition to the Simcoe County Forest 'Packard Tract' in the Township of Essa.  An assessment of the property identified opportunities to substantially enhance planned forest restoration to include habitat creation for the endangered Kirtland's Warbler.

The restoration and habitat creation project will begin in fall of 2019 with the removal of non-native Scot's pine and Norway spruce and the removal of some marginal red and white pine on approximately 6 ha of the property.  Site preparation using a controlled burn and other mechanical equipment will be completed in 2020.  This will be followed in spring 2021 with the planting of approximately 35,000 native trees and the seeding of approximately 75 different native shrubs, grasses, herbs and wildflowers.

The County of Simcoe Forestry Department will be completing the project with funding from Ganawenim Meshkiki of Henvey Inlet First Nations through the Eastern Georgian Bay Initiative.  The County of Simcoe are partnering with the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority and the Ontario Heritage Trust to also complete forest restoration and habitat creation work on an adjacent property owned and managed by these partners. 

The Packard Tract is located at 8398, 9th Line Essa.  The project area is approximately 59 ha (145 acres), 41 ha (101 acres) of which have already been reforested.  The remaining 18 ha (44 acres) will be reforested in 2021 following site preparation work.  The entire project area will then see enhancements including the seeding of native plants, installation of scattered brush piles for structure and the creation of meadows.

This project will be the second project of its kind in Canada (first was in Simcoe County Forest Museum Tract) and part of an international effort to create habitat for Kirtland's Warbler, an endangered song bird.  This species relies on large tracts (100+ acres) of early pine-oak successional forest.  In addition to creating early successional pine-oak forest for this rare bird, this regionally uncommon habitat type will benefit numerous other wildlife species.


What is Kirtland’s Warbler?

​Kirtland's Warbler is a small migratory songbird.  It was nearly extinct in the 1970's. Habitat restoration efforts in the US beginning in the 1970's have significantly increased the bird's population. This project at the Packard Tract will be the second of its kind in Canada.

Why is Kirtland’s Warbler rare?

​Kirtland's Warbler relies on a specific habitat type that has become uncommon within their core range. They rely on large tracts of young pine forests for nesting habitat. The bird builds its nest on the ground at the base of a tree underneath the low branches. As forests mature and these lower branches naturally prune themselves, the habitat is no longer suitable.

What is the project timeline?

​The project will start in fall 2019 with the removal of some native and non-native trees on the site. Site preparation will be done in 2020 including a controlled burn to prepare the site for planting. Approximately 35,000 native tree seedlings will be planted in spring of 2021 along with the seeding of approximately 75 species of native shrubs, grasses, herbs and wildflowers.

Will there be impacts to property users?

​During some parts of the project, the property may be closed to visitors for safety reasons. Signs at property entrances will notify visitors during closures. The online Simcoe County Interactive Mapping System will also show any forestry property closures.