Hazel Bird look-out, Rice Lake Plains, ON (Photo by NCC)

Hazel Bird look-out, Rice Lake Plains, ON (Photo by NCC)

Rice Lake Plains prescribed burn open house scheduled for March 11

March 2, 2020
Harwood, ON


This spring, experts will return to conduct the 14th season of prescribed burns on the Rice Lake Plains. Partners of the Rice Lake Plains Partnership are hosting a prescribed burn open house on March 11 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Harwood Fire Station (5424 Front St). Representatives from organizations planning prescribed burns in the county will be available to answer questions.

The 2020 spring burns will take place on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC) Hazel Bird and Red Cloud School Road properties and on Burnley Carmel (Ontario Parks). These prescribed burns are essential to restore and revitalize globally rare tallgrass prairie and savannah habitat in Northumberland County.

“Tallgrass prairie and savannah plant species depend upon fire to live. As natural fires have long been suppressed in southern Ontario, conservation scientists across North America use professionally managed prescribed burns to bring new life to these wildlife habitats,” says Mark Stabb, NCC’s central Ontario east program manager. “We encourage our neighbours to come to the open house to learn more about this season’s plans, and to address any safety concerns they may have.”

Prescribed burns are intentionally set and professionally managed fires that burn across a pre-determined area under strictly controlled circumstances in order to restore natural habitat. Fires clear scrub and brush allowing sunlight to reach the soil where native grassland seeds lie. Native prairie species flourish following a fire, restoring the native grassland habitat of the area. Fire also helps remove invasive species. Burning only occurs under specific weather conditions that will allow a safe, controlled fire.

The prescribed burns conducted on the various sites will be carried out by trained professionals. Burns sponsored by the Rice Lake Plains Partnership will be managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Alderville Black Oak Savanna, Ontario Parks and Lands & Forests Consulting, an independent prescribed burn consulting firm. Detailed burn plans, fire permits and insurance are obtained in advance for each site.

For safety reasons, the public will not be allowed access to the prescribed burn areas during the burns. Media representatives and the public are welcome to observe burning operations from a safe location, to be determined by fire control staff.

The prescribed burns are part of ongoing habitat restoration efforts by the Rice Lake Plains Partnership, which include the Nature Conservancy Canada, Northumberland County Forest, Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority, Lower Trent Conservation, Ontario Parks, Alderville First Nation, Willow Beach Field Naturalists, Lone Pine Marsh Land Trust, Fleming College, Minisrty of Natural Resources and the Northumberland Land Trust.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast, with more than 84,000 hectares (207,000 acres) in Ontario. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.


Val Deziel
Coordinator, Conservation Biology, Rice Lake Plains- Central Ontario East
Cell: 705-868-5374

Mark Stabb
Central Ontario Program Manager
Nature Conservancy of Canada
Cell: 905-621-5230

PLEASE NOTE:  Prescribed burns are weather-dependent and site-specific. Typically, they occur in mid-April to early May, after snow melt and once sites are dry. Announcements of individual prescribed burns will be issued as soon as details are known.

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