County launches forest survey
The County of Simcoe is encouraging anyone who spends time in the Simcoe County Forest to complete a brief survey to provide input into a review being undertaken of the recreation policy.
The policy governs the public use of the Simcoe County Forest. The policy was approved by county council in 2006 to ensure the continued enjoyment of the forest by all responsible users, to minimize environmental impacts and to reduce conflicts.
Assumptions that have governed the existing policy and forest management plan, and will continue to guide decision making, include the following:
• Simcoe County Forest is considered a “working forest” and is not parkland, preserve or for single use;
• Recreational pursuits in the forest are a privilege, not a right;
• Forest health, management and associated operations take precedence over recreational activities;
• The forest is owned by the Corporation of the County of Simcoe, is not Crown land and, as such, the county is responsible for management decisions.
A review of the recreation policy is being undertaken to assess where it is working well and to identify what changes or modifications might be needed to better address public use and improve the experience of forest users. The outcome of the review and public feedback could include recommendations for minor amendments, clarifications and possible other changes to better achieve the policy objectives.
“We take great pride in being a municipal leader in forest stewardship, and Forests Ontario recently recognized our efforts by naming us Ontario’s Green Leaf Challenge award winner among large organizations for planting more than 81,000 trees so far this season,” county Warden Gerry Marshall said in a release. “Our forests are a treasure and asset to all our residents and visitors. Please take our brief survey and have your say in how we experience and share the Simcoe County Forest in a responsible way.”
The survey is available at www.simcoe.ca/recsurvey . The survey can also be taken over the phone by calling 800-263-3199.
At approximately 33,000 acres and growing, the Simcoe County Forest is the largest municipally owned forest in Ontario and among the largest of its kind in Canada with more than 150 properties ranging in size from 13 to 3,500-plus acres.
The county is one of the few municipalities in Ontario that continues to invest in additional land to ensure the environmental, social and economic benefits continue. Within the past decade, the Simcoe County Forest has expanded by more than 3,700 acres.
The forest contains more than 450 km of trails used for various recreational pursuits. These trails are developed and maintained by non-profit groups.
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.
Learn more about the FSC certification program at ca.fsc.org/index.htm.