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Go online before November 6: https://joinin.northumberland.ca/northumberland-county-forest-master-plan

Article by Valerie MacDonald

An updated draft of the Master Plan for the Northumberland County Forest is available online for residents to review by November 6 before it goes to County Council for ratification. This the final step in a  process that started about a year ago.

There are 118 kilometres of trails throughout the forest and “90% of the forest is within the core area of the Oak Ridges Moraine,” says County spokesperson Kate Campbell. It is a total of 2,225 hectares and most of it is within Alnwick/Haldimand although there are portions in Hamilton and Cramahe Townships as well north of Baltimore on both sides of County Road 45.

“All recreation in the forest is related to the 118-kilometre trail network, with the exception of hunting which takes place off-trail,” she said. “Recreation opportunities are diverse, including snowmobiling, hiking, cycling/motorbiking, ATVing, snowshoeing, horseback riding and skiing, to name the most prevalent.”

Hunting for deer takes place in fall and turkeys in spring – both on the east side of County Road 45. This year the fall turkey hunt didn’t go forward and hunting regulations require hunters not to discharge a firearm within 50 metres of a trail.

Asked about the draft Master Plan’s raison d’être, Campbell said it will “will help guide the sustainable management of the Northumberland County Forest over the next 20 years.

“Five-year operational plans will be developed during this timeline detailing action items related to the eight objectives identified in the plan. There are various Federal, Provincial and Municipal requirements that impact the Forest, including species at risk and invasive species laws, and the County’s Forest Use Bylaw.” 

Image by Valerie MacDonald

She outlined the process leading up to the new plan which looks at everything from recreational use to harvesting lumber and overall ecology.

“The development of the Northumberland County Forest Master Plan began in 2018 with discussions with the Forest Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of organized and informal user groups and members of the public. There were over 170 respondents to the online survey in June 2019, with 25 attendees to subsequent open houses in October 2019. Over 250 individuals have so far visited the Join In Northumberland consultation portal to review information about the draft plan,” Campbell summarized.

To comment on the plan, go to: Joinin.Northumberland.ca

The draft go to county council at the end of this year or early next, Campbell said.

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