Skip to content

County preparing to burn part of its own forest

Fire is a critical element for renewal of some forest types, officials say; exact date undetermined
Stock image

The County of Simcoe will be executing a controlled burn on 30 hectares (74 acres) of county forests within the Museum Tract in Midhurst adjacent to the Simcoe County Museum. The controlled burn is scheduled to occur this fall as early as conditions permit after mid-September.

The exact date cannot be determined at this time as it will be dictated by site and weather conditions. During the controlled burn, a section of Anne Street North directly adjacent to the site between Snow Valley Road and Highway 26 will be closed.

Once the date of the controlled burn has been confirmed, every effort will be made to inform residents, stakeholders and media through a variety of communication channels, including:

  • County website:
  • Twitter: @simcoecounty and @simcoecountyCS
  • Facebook: @CountyofSimcoe
  • Details will also be published through local media outlets (should timelines permit)

Fire is a critical element for the renewal of some forest types. Due to the ecological benefits of fire, controlled burning is widely used by forest managers to help in the renewal process. This controlled burn will serve multiple purposes such as:

  • Reducing fire risk on the site by burning debris in a controlled manner
  • Clearing debris to allow for reforestation
  • Supporting the release of nutrients to improve growing conditions for target species
  • Helping to reduce some of the non-native invasive species currently on site. In particular, burning will reduce the seed and subsequent re-growth of scots pine, one of the non-native species which needs to be eliminated to achieve desired results

The Museum Tract controlled burn is a key step in preparing the site for a significant forest restoration and habitat creation project on the property being led by the County. The restoration involves the removal of existing vegetation (largely non-native/exotic plants and trees) and re-planting of approximately 160,000 native trees.

In addition to the significant tree planting effort, the site will be over-seeded with a mix of native plant and shrub seeds to establish a diverse groundcover. With this project, the County will be joining an international recovery effort for the Kirtland's Warbler, a globally endangered and rare migratory bird. 

Funding has been received from the Government of Canada, through Environment and Climate Change Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk (HSP) and American Forests. For details about the project visit

County Council approved the Simcoe County Forests Management Plan in 2011 to guide our policies through 2030. The Plan outlines that fire has historically played a primary role in influencing the composition and structure of our forests, and that utilizing fire in a controlled way is an important management tool. Controlled burns have been conducted previously within the County Forests, most recently in 2014 within the Brentwood Tract in Clearview Township.

A highly experienced company has been retained to plan and conduct the burn, with trained and experienced personnel on site until it is completely extinguished. The operation is anticipated to be conducted over a 3-day span if weather permits. Smoke will be minimized by burning under specific wind and atmospheric conditions.

However, there will be stages of the operation when large amounts of low-lying smoke is generated, while at other times a very large smoke column will be visible for many miles.

Public questions and inquiries can be directed to our County Forestry Department by contacting Customer Service at 1-800-263-3199. More information about the controlled burn can be found here.

County of Simcoe is composed of sixteen member municipalities and provides crucial public services to County residents in addition to providing paramedic and social services to the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Visit our website at