Prescribed burn in High Park scheduled for Friday, April 15

City of Toronto Urban Forestry is currently undergoing preparations for a prescribed (or “controlled”) burn in High Park on Friday, April 15, 2016 between 2 pm and 5 pm, contingent on favorable weather conditions.

It is expected that the High Park prescribed burn will occur on Friday April 15th, between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm.  During the implementation of the prescribed burn, access will be temporarily restricted in High Park. The park will remain open for visitors, but temporary trail and road closures may be necessary in order to allow crews to efficiently move between sites, and to ensure public safety. Other areas that may be temporarily restricted include parking lots, adjacent natural area trails, and other amenities directly adjacent to the burn sites.

The map identifies the specific zones being burned, however please watch for prescribed burn signage posted onsite.

A prescribed burn is a deliberately-set and carefully-controlled fire that burns low to the ground and consumes leaf litter but does not harm large trees. This year’s burn continues the well established program to restore Black Oak Savannah populations, a rare vegetation community that is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the Province of Ontario and at risk of extinction in Toronto.  A high complexity Burn Boss with extensive prescribed burning experience will conduct the burn with a qualified crew.

The burn will temporarily produce large amounts of smoke in the park and surrounding community. Under ideal weather conditions, the smoke from the prescribed burn should rise and will not affect surrounding neighbourhoods. It is possible however that the weather could change, and some smoke from burning vegetation could reach some of the residential areas near the park.

It is recommended that all residents close windows or leave the area at the time of the burn to avoid any potential smoke inhalation.

BACKGROUND

High Park houses remnant Black Oak savannah populations, which are being managed by Urban Forestry staff. Prescribed burns are part of Urban Forestry’s long-term management plan to restore and protect Toronto’s rare Black Oak woodlands and savannahs. A prescribed burn is a deliberately set and carefully controlled fire that burns low to the ground and consumes dried leaves, small twigs and grass stems, but does not harm larger trees. Fire-dependent ecosystems, like Black Oak savannahs, contain prairie plants that respond positively to prescribed burning, and grow more vigorously than they would in the absence of fire.

This year will be the 13th prescribed burn in High Park. This year's burn follows on the tremendous success of the Black Oak woodlands and savannah restoration programs Urban Forestry began in 2000 in High Park, and 2002 in South Humber Park and Lambton Parks.