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March 12, 2002
Forestry plans controlled burns in early spring to stimulate new growth
  
Toronto Urban Forestry Services will undertake a prescribed (or "controlled")
burn in three parks in late March or early April. The actual date of the
prescribed burn will be announced with 48 hours' notice when ideal weather
conditions can be expected.

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 the
city's 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 the
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 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
management.


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