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April 17, 2002
Prescribed burns in Toronto parks scheduled for tomorrow
Toronto Urban Forestry Services will undertake a prescribed (or "controlled")
burn in three parks tomorrow afternoon, Thursday, April 18. Current weather
forecasts include the threat of isolated thunderstorms. If thunderstorms occur,
the planned burns will be abandoned for the season and rescheduled for spring

The first burns will take place in High Park and South Humber Park. A public
briefing to outline plans for the burns in the three parks will be held in the
parking lot of Grenadier Restaurant in the centre of High Park, starting at
noon. Fire Crews will then disperse to specified areas of High Park and South
Humber Park for simultaneous burning. When burning is complete at South Humber
Park, the assigned crew will then proceed to Lambton Park to begin the burn
there. It is expected that burning will not start before 1 p.m.

Prescribed burns are part of Urban Forestry Services' 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.

"Savannahs depend on periodic fire to maintain their open, park-like character
and rich variety of prairie grasses, shrubs and wildflowers," explained City
Forester Richard Ubbens. "A deliberately set and carefully controlled low fire
consumes dried leaves, small twigs and grass stems but does not harm larger
trees. Within a few weeks of the fire, oak seedlings and other native plants
grow more vigorously."

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

A fire boss with extensive provincial fire fighting 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 the burn with a qualified crew. City staff from Parks
and Recreation Division will assist with the burn, and Toronto Fire and Police
Services will assist as required by the fire boss.

During the months to follow, City staff, scientists and the volunteers from the
community, including members of the High Park Citizens Advisory Committee, will
monitor and analyze the beneficial effects of the burn and implement additional

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