Northumberland County Forest Master Plan

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Northumberland County has completed a draft Northumberland County Forest Master Plan to guide the sustainable management of the County Forest over the next twenty years.

The Northumberland County Forest includes 2,225 hectares (5,500 acres) of mainly forested land, including 118 km of recreational trails and many unique species and habitats including the rare Black Oak Woodland.

The planning process for the Forest Master Plan began in 2018 with discussions between County staff and members of the Forest Advisory Committee. Discussions with the committee continued throughout meetings in 2018, 2019 and 2020. In 2018 and 2019, Northumberland County Forest staff researched and reviewed best practices in forestry planning from various municipalities, including maintaining both natural habitats and recreational assets.

In 2019, Northumberland County launched public consultations to gather information, ideas and feedback from residents and forest users, including an online survey in June 2019 and public open houses in October 2019. The feedback and input gathered during these consultations provided key insight that was incorporated into the development of the draft Forest Master Plan.

The draft plan is now available for review and feedback until November 6, 2020. The final plan will be presented to Northumberland County Council for approval in winter 2020/2021.

The public engagement objectives for the Forest Master Plan Review are to:

  1. Inform residents about the purpose of the Forest Master Plan and the objectives identified within the plan.
  2. Gather feedback from residents and forest users about the draft plan.

Join In the conversation

  • Review a brief overview of the plan objectives in the Forest Master Plan Objectives tab below, or review the full plan available in the Documents tab.
  • Share your feedback and submit questions to the Northumberland County Forest team at forest@northumberlandcounty.ca by November 6, 2020.

Northumberland County has completed a draft Northumberland County Forest Master Plan to guide the sustainable management of the County Forest over the next twenty years.

The Northumberland County Forest includes 2,225 hectares (5,500 acres) of mainly forested land, including 118 km of recreational trails and many unique species and habitats including the rare Black Oak Woodland.

The planning process for the Forest Master Plan began in 2018 with discussions between County staff and members of the Forest Advisory Committee. Discussions with the committee continued throughout meetings in 2018, 2019 and 2020. In 2018 and 2019, Northumberland County Forest staff researched and reviewed best practices in forestry planning from various municipalities, including maintaining both natural habitats and recreational assets.

In 2019, Northumberland County launched public consultations to gather information, ideas and feedback from residents and forest users, including an online survey in June 2019 and public open houses in October 2019. The feedback and input gathered during these consultations provided key insight that was incorporated into the development of the draft Forest Master Plan.

The draft plan is now available for review and feedback until November 6, 2020. The final plan will be presented to Northumberland County Council for approval in winter 2020/2021.

The public engagement objectives for the Forest Master Plan Review are to:

  1. Inform residents about the purpose of the Forest Master Plan and the objectives identified within the plan.
  2. Gather feedback from residents and forest users about the draft plan.

Join In the conversation

  • Review a brief overview of the plan objectives in the Forest Master Plan Objectives tab below, or review the full plan available in the Documents tab.
  • Share your feedback and submit questions to the Northumberland County Forest team at forest@northumberlandcounty.ca by November 6, 2020.
  • Objective One – Communication, Public Engagement and Partnerships

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    Forest Advisory Working Group

    • Maintain and expand Forest Advisory Committee working groups to include recreation, forestry, natural and cultural heritage of the Forest.
    • Develop leadership within Forest Advisory Committee.
    • Create more active roles for committee members.

    Communication

    • Complete a communication strategy for the Forest by 2023.

    Public Engagement

    • Consult the public on plans.
    • Complete user surveys.

    Volunteers

    • Engage the public through volunteer programming.

    Partnerships

    • Consult and develop partnership with organizations and groups, universities and colleges.

    Academic Research and Partnerships

    • Share research needs with schools, universities and colleges.
    • Continue to evaluate opportunities for academic and other partnerships for research.
  • Objective Two - Recreation

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    Ownership

    • By 2024, an update and to the current agreement should be negotiated.
    • In 2020, a discussion on enforcement, ownership and costs with the Township of Alnwick/Haldimand.

    Trail Infrastructure – access, new trail, parking

    • Document Trail Infrastructures as part of the Municipal Asset management process for July 2023.
    • Develop, implement and maintain trail, signage and hazard tree standards and inspection policies.
    • Close and rehabilitate trails that are degrading, at high risk of degrading or have little use and do not add to the needed experience in the Forest.
    • Gate all access roads.
    • Evaluate new trail locations balancing increasing accessibility with ecological, landscape and financial constraints as well as intended trail uses and experiences.
    • Evaluate enlargement of parking lots based on needed.
    • Emergency location markers are located throughout the forest and will be maintained.
    • 911 numbers for all Forest trailhead parking lots will be established.

    Hunting

    • Establish online voluntary form for hunter permits in 2021.
    • Update the Forest use by law in 2021 with respect to hunting, access and game retrieval.
    • Re-evaluate hunting in the forest at once every five years.
    • Survey wildlife numbers, hunting impacts.
  • Objective Three – Risk, Liability and Enforcement

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    Hazard Areas

    • Close and rehabilitate Centreton and White Oak Road sand pits.
    • Address risks associated with the historical fire tower and current communication tower.
    • Implement measures for liability and risk reduction of along the Northumberland County Forest boundary and County owned areas under the hydro line as noted in the 2020 approved Issue paper.
    • Staff to continue to perform recreational and forest hazard assessment and implement mitigating management activities.

    Climate Change

    • Staff will provide input into County documents with respect to climate change in the forest and evaluate Forest climate change impacts and implementation corrective measures.

    Wildland Fire Management

    • Complete a Fire Risk and Fuel Hazard Management Strategy by 2025.

    By-law and Enforcement

    • Review and update the Forest tree and Forest use by-laws by 2021.
    • Enforcing the by-law during regular and non-regular operating hours.
  • Objective Four – Natural Heritage - Ecology

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    Wildlife and Plant Inventories

    • Perform a comprehensive vegetation and wildlife inventory across the Forest, to document vegetation communities and species. Assess the distribution of indicators of oak savannah and Tallgrass prairie communities.
    • Seek methods to increase inventories and citizen science contributions to the database and improve data collection techniques. Public and academic research contributions should be considered.
    • Maintain a GIS-based conservation values database.

    Restoration

    • Compete a Restoration plan for the Forest by 2023.

    Species at Risk

    • Continue surveys of species at risk and monitoring of habitat, including work with the Ontario butterfly species at risk.

    Invasive Species

    • Complete an Integrated Pest Management Strategy by 2024 including the prioritization of the management of invasive species that threaten conservation values.
  • Objective Five – Natural Heritage - Forestry

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    Forest Inventory

    • Update the Forest inventory every five years.

    Operating Schedule

    • Update conifer plantation silvicultural operation plan every five years.

    Silvicultural Effectiveness Monitoring

    • Complete silvicultural effectiveness monitoring.

    Tending and Planting

    • Tend and plant harvested areas as required.

    Conservation Values

    • Update species and assess Forest Conservation values on a yearly basis.
    • Harvesting will encourage and facilitate plantation conversion to natural forest and support conservation of rare habitats and species.
  • Objective Six – Cultural Heritage

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    First Nations

    • Develop and maintain our relationship with local First Nations communities.
    • Develop an engaged and consultative relationship with First Nations with respect to Natural and Cultural aspects of the Northumberland County Forest.
    • Have representation from Alderville First Nation on the Forest Advisory committee.
    • Gather information and continue to develop understanding about the First Nations use of the area.

    Other Culturally Significant Features

    • Balance the protection and conservation of historic sites with natural heritage conservation.
    • Collect data and maintain a GPS database of cultural heritage features such as settlement areas.
    • Seek and foster opportunities to work with academic institutions, historical societies, archives and similar organizations to document cultural heritage information.
    • Create opportunities for visitors to experience and learn about the Forest cultural history (pre- and post- European settlement).
    • Historical structures within the forest including survey markers, homesteads, historical buildings, historical mittens, and other unique historical structures will be geo referenced, photographed and described by 2027.
  • Objective Seven – Infrastructure and Administration

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    New Technologies

    • Continue and expand use of technology by staff and forest contractors all aspects of work including documenting invasive species and restoration planning and monitoring and enforcement.
    • Evaluate and implement new technologies such as enforcement cameras to increase monitoring of uses in the forest.

    Staffing

    • Evaluate Conservation Stewardship Technician position in 2022 after contract term.
    • Evaluate summer staffing needs.
    • Ensure appropriate enforcement staff/contract both during operating and non-operating hours.
    • Ensure appropriate O.P.P patrols.
    • Evaluate the needs for a future assessment of the hiring of a volunteer coordinator/outreach/visitor experience staff) to help advertise for and organize and oversee volunteer events and help with raising awareness of the forest.
    • Update staffing plans for the Forest every five years.

    Training

    • Staff given the opportunity to continuously develop their knowledge and skills.
    • Ensure staff have learning and development opportunities to stay current with the latest science, research, technologies and practices.

    Facilities

    • Conduct a feasibility study and needs assessment for the County Forest and redevelopment of the Scout Camp by 2025.
    • Provide input into Transportation Facility review and exploration process.

    Natural Asset Management/Green Infrastructure

    • By July 2023, all green infrastructure assets and municipal assets will be documented following County Asset management criteria.

    Securement

    • By 2025, a securement plan for the Northumberland County Forest will be completed. Reserves and other funding will be used to secure priority properties.
  • Objective Eight - Finance

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    Tax Levy

    • Staff will review the financial opportunities within the current service delivery such as new sources of revenue come available. This could increase a request to change the amount of the Tax levy as required.
    • As part of the Municipal Asset management process, green infrastructure will be documented, including evaluate good and services by July 2023.

    Timber Sales

    • Staff will request excess Timber revenue sales be invested back into the Forest starting in 2021.
    • Staff to review and adapt forest product sales methods as required.

    Friends of Group

    • Investigate and consider opportunities that will have indirect economic benefits to the County’s residents and businesses.

    Cause–related Marketing

    • Staff will explore options with respect to Friends of Groups, looking at example that have been completed in other community forests. Compare that to other financial options such as endowments and cause-related marketing.

    Carbon Offsets

    • County Forest staff will keep updated on what is occurring in the market and pursue new revenue opportunities particularly within the carbon and ecosystem services markets and other options for offsetting work that is currently be done. These will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

    Recreational Use/Access Permit Fees

    • Update the current Road agreement by 2024 with Township of Alnwick/ Haldimand, including a discussion of owners and bylaw jurisdiction.
    • Complete a trail permitting system report to council, documenting the current issues, risks and costs.

    Special Event Fees

    • Event costs, monitoring costs and updates to the bylaw will be considered annually.

    Grants

    • Use of these available grants will continue as opportunities arise.

    Sponsorship/Advertising

    • Other community forests and parks will be consulted to document what they have done, and a cost benefit analysis produced of possible options.

    Forest Conservation By-law Permit Fees

    • By 2021, by-laws will be reviewed.

    Volunteerism

    • Engage the public through volunteer programming.

    Gifting

    • A gifting policy with respect to documenting the process and criteria and needs will be developed by 2022.

    Public Private Partnership

    • As part of a feasibility study on the redevelopment of the Scout Camp, the potential for public private partnership will be explored. As other opportunities arise, they will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

    Land Leases

    • Staff will evaluate these on a case-by-case basis.

    Land Disposal

    • The sale of lands currently owned as part of the Northumberland County Forest would require a detailed assessment and investigation on a case by case basis.

    Cost Reduction

    • Staff continue to examine shared services and efficient and cost reductions with other organizations, and municipalities. Opportunities are evaluated and implemented if of benefit.

    Merchandise Sales

    • A communication strategy will be produced that references branding and brand awareness.

    Academic Institute

    • Staff will maintain connections with academic intuitions regarding new courses, programs and research opportunities.

    Increased Land Base

    • A securement plan and mapping priority properties will be completed by 2025.
    • Reserve funds will be examined to ensure there is enough being applied to purchase properties when they come available.