Northumberland Forest controlled burn will take place soon

By Cecilia Nasmith

A late-April or early-May time frame is contemplated for a prescribed burn in the Northumberland County Forest.

This measure aims to encourage the growth of the rare and globally-threatened oak savanna and oak woodland habitats, the county press release said.

A prescribed burn is a controlled ground fire which consumes grass, brush and fallen leave, but does no harm to the fire-adapted trees in the burn area due to the protection afforded by their thick bark and deep roots. In the end, a prescribed burn opens up the area to change light levels and thereby enable more sunlight to nourish the targeted native species. The blackened earth attracts the heat of the sun, warming the ground quicker and providing a jump-start for the growth of the native species.

“Prescribed burns are a way for us to ensure our valuable habitats have the proper environmental conditions to thrive,” county forest manager Todd Farrell stated in the county press release.

“As stewards of the county forest, it is our responsibility to ensure the sustainability of our unique habitats by removing barriers to growth. You can think of a prescribed burn as a doctor’s prescription to maintain this globally-threatened habitat and the species associated with it.”

The prescribed burn will follow a detailed planning process which began in September 2018. With the snow now melted in the forest, specific timelines for the burn will be based on conditions established by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, including dryness, fuel on site and wind speeds. Staff are assessing and recording temperatures daily and using weather modelling to determine an appropriate date over the next several weeks. Nearby residents will be issued a notice approximately one week prior to the prescribed burn.

To ensure safety, all individuals that will be on-site during the burn will attend a briefing beforehand to review safety protocols and safe zones. Fire officials from the Township of Alnwick/Haldimand will be on-site during the burn to monitor conditions.

Members of the public who have questions about the prescribed burn are encouraged to e-mail Northumberland County’s Forest Services team at