High Park to close for a controlled burn this week and residents should expect smoke: city

Toronto’s High Park will close to vehicles Friday, weather permitting, allowing crews to perform a controlled burn in an effort to protect and sustain the city’s rare black oak savannah.

The city announced Wednesday the park will close at 7 am Friday and will reopen once the burn has been completed – typically by early evening.

They also said residents in the area should expect higher than normal levels of smoke on Friday.

“People with asthma and those highly sensitive to poison ivy should limit their exposure to the smoke by staying inside and keeping windows closed. Some people may choose to leave the general area of ​​the park on the day of the burn if concerned about the smoke,” the city said in a news release.

The black oak savannah in High Park is an ecosystem rarely found in Canada, consisting of an open, park-like landscape with black oaks, low shrubs, prairie grasses and wildflowers.

These savannahs are dependent on fire, either human-caused or natural, to maintain the open space. The black oak is resistant to fire, and some of the largest ones in Toronto are located in High Park. The park has nearly 23 hectares of fragmented black oak savannah.

“The City of Toronto maintains planted and naturalized areas through best management practices such as forest thinning, prescribed burns and controlling invasive plant species,” the city said.

“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.”

The specific burn sites are located south of the High Park Forestry School, south of the Forestry School opposite the Sports Complex, south of the Sports Complex just north of Grenadier Restaurant and on the east side of the park, south of the Parkside Drive entrance, between Howard Park Avenue and Parkside Drive.

Notices of the closure have been posted at the entrance of High Park to notify residents ahead of time.

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