• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Wednesday, December 6: Save the Ontario Tree Seed Facility deputation to Essa Council

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In Council Watch
Dec 3rd, 2017
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From AWARE Essa and Friends of Utopia Mill and Park

Join us at the Essa Administrative Offices, 5786 County Road 21, Utopia ON at 6:00 p.m. on December 6.

AWARE Essa will be giving a ten-minute deputation to Essa Council asking for their support for our efforts to keep the Tree Seed Plant open in Angus. If you who live in the vicinity, you can express your agreement just by being part of the audience. For those of you too far away, a phone call or email to your local municipal councils would help spread awareness of the provincial government’s ill-advised decision to close the Ontario Tree Seed Facility.

The announcement in the media of the proposed closure of the OTSF came as a shock to everyone. Not even Essa Township elected officials were consulted or given any notice. The town of Angus in Essa Township, Simcoe County is home to the only publicly owned tree seed facility left in the province. The Tree Seed Plant is a significant centre for forestry in southern Ontario. OMNRF staff, forestry professionals, clients, members of forestry NGOs and students who visit the OTSF are introduced to the town of Angus and the beautiful rural landscapes and forests of Essa Township.

Every year, Forests Ontario brings together more than 300 landowners, forestry professionals, students, educators and those passionate about our forests to explore key issues. The Forests Ontario Conference will be held in February at the Nottawasaga Inn in Alliston, a half-hour drive from the OTSF. The positive economic effects of events like this and of the Ontario Tree Seed Facility cannot be overlooked and were not taken into consideration by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry when they made the decision to close the plant.

The OTSF, Essa Township and Simcoe County share a history and identity that is rooted, literally and figuratively in the massive stands of pines—white pine and red—that grew in the sand flats of this area and attracted 19th-century lumber merchants. The idea of reforestation or managed forests had not yet gained currency and all too soon the trees disappeared. Water sources dried up and the sand flats were easily eroded by wind and rain.

Conservationists in the early years of the 20th century began an ambitious reforestation program under the long-term guidance of then Provincial Forester, Edmund Zavitz. (See John Bacher’s book, Two Billion Trees and Counting.) Those efforts resulted in the creation of the Ontario Tree Seed Plant, Midhurst Tree Nursery, Boy Scout Forestry Camp, Simcoe County Forests and the planting of two billion trees. That legacy has supported the physical, social, and economic well-being of all of us who live in Ontario.

Today forests are threatened by overdevelopment, invasive species, disease and climate change. More than ever we need the vision and determination of those far-sighted conservationists and politicians who acted for the public good. Reversing the decision to close the Ontario Tree Seed Facility would be an endorsement of their legacy.

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