Fire Management Policy for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves

ERO number
019-0414
Notice type
Policy
Act
Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
January 25, 2021 - March 11, 2021 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
January 25, 2021
to March 11, 2021

Decision summary

We approved the updated Fire Management Policy for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves. These changes will modernize and streamline fire management planning for these protected areas and enhance opportunities for the ecological benefits of fire, while continuing to protect people and property.

Decision details

Fire is an essential natural process that renews the forest, creates healthy natural ecosystems and provides diverse landscapes.

The aim of fire management in provincial parks and conservation reserves is to protect human life and property, and to use wildland fire and prescribed burning to maintain and restore healthy, functioning ecosystems. For instance, many ecosystems, such as jack pine forests, are adapted to fire and cannot persist without periodic fire.

After reviewing input received in response to the proposal, we have decided to approve the updated fire management policy. The changes to the policy will help:

  • modernize and streamline fire management planning for provincial parks and conservation reserves by aligning with the Wildland Fire Management Strategy
  • enhance opportunities for the ecological benefits of fire
  • continue to protect people and property

Comments received

Through the registry

1

By email

4

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Summary of feedback

We received a total of five comments on the proposal. Comments included:

  • support for the proposed policy
  • recommendations to ensure:
    • tourism businesses that operate in provincial parks and conservation reserves are identified in Assets, Resources and Opportunities maps
    • these stakeholders are engaged in fire management planning
  • concerns with protection of buildings and structures and potential impacts on the exercise of Aboriginal and treaty rights if trap cabins and other Indigenous values are not identified for protection from wildland fire
  • request for information on the location and timing of prescribed burns and assessments of potential ecological impacts

How we considered comments

We made minor changes to the updated policy to specifically recognize commercial tourism operators and other tenure holders (e.g. private recreation camps) as stakeholders in fire management planning.

We considered protection of buildings and structures to be sufficiently addressed in the updated policy. The policy includes direction for engagement with Indigenous communities during fire management planning to identify assets and resources that may require protection from wildland fire. This includes structures or other values needed for the exercise of Aboriginal and treaty rights. As outlined in the policy, Aviation Forest Fires and Emergency Services (AFFES) responds to all wildland fires using appropriate response, which is guided by the Wildland Fire Management Strategy. Under this strategy, any known structures are prioritized for protection given the capabilities of AFFES at the time of a fire.

Although the policy provides guidance on identifying opportunities for prescribed burning and assessing potential impacts, it does not propose specific locations of prescribed burns in provincial parks and conservation reserves.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Ontario Parks - Protected Areas Section
Address

300 Water Street
6th Floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Office phone number

Connect with us

Contact

Karen Hartley

Phone number
Email address
Office
Ontario Parks - Protected Areas Section
Address

300 Water Street
6th Floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-0414
Notice type
Policy
Act
Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

January 25, 2021 - March 11, 2021 (45 days)

Proposal details

The purpose of the policy is to establish an approach for informing appropriate response to wildland fire in provincial parks and conservation reserves and identifying opportunities for prescribed burning.

Background

Ontario’s Fire Management Policy for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves

Fire is an essential natural process for maintaining and restoring healthy, functioning ecosystems. The aim of fire management in provincial parks and conservation reserves is to use wildland fire and prescribed burning to achieve ecological benefits. The protection of human life and property is an overriding priority.

The Fire Management Policy for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves:

  • requires that fire management direction be developed for every provincial park and conservation reserve to guide fire response and use
  • promotes the ecological role of fire in maintaining and restoring ecosystems

Challenges

The existing policy has been effective at ensuring the role of fire is considered and documented in the management direction for provincial parks and conservation reserves. However, there are two challenges impacting the existing policy:

  1. There are 9 fire response or fire management plans in place for 23 provincial parks and conservation reserves. These plans include more detailed direction for responding to wildland fire. While these plans have helped to achieve the ecological benefits of wildfire, other provincial parks and conservation reserves could also benefit from having plans in place.
  2. There have been changes to the strategic direction for fire management in the province. The Wildland Fire Management Strategy directs that all wildland fires receive an appropriate response according to conditions at the time of a fire. Fires that are not threatening public safety or values may be managed to:
  • limit negative impacts
  • realize ecological benefits
  • manage costs

Proposed changes

We are proposing changes to the policy to:

  • update direction for fire management in provincial parks and conservation reserves in accordance with the Wildland Fire Management Strategy
  • streamline fire management planning for more efficient delivery of information to support fire response decisions

This includes:

  • simplifying and clarifying requirements for fire management planning to guide wildland fire response and prescribed burning
  • preparing assets, resources and opportunities maps to inform decisions about the appropriate response to fire, in locations where the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is responsible for wildland fire management
  • allowing flexibility for developing fire management plans when more detailed planning is needed
  • using local and Indigenous knowledge to inform fire management planning
  • encouraging fire research and promoting opportunities for learning about the benefits of fire and fire prevention
  • rescinding class and zone-specific provincial park policies on prescribed burning, fire suppression and fire management planning in Ontario Provincial Parks: Planning and Management Policies so that decisions can be made based on local management interests

These changes will:

  • modernize fire management direction for provincial parks and conservation reserves
  • improve the efficiency of fire management planning
  • enhance opportunities to use fire for ecological benefits

Other information

The Fire Management Planning Guideline for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves is being updated to reflect changes to the policy. Consultation on the policy and guideline are being conducted concurrently. See ERO number 019-0417 to learn more about proposed changes to the guideline.

The proposed policy and guideline were developed jointly by Ontario Parks (Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks) and Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry).

Public consultation opportunities

Indigenous communities and provincial treaty organizations have been informed of the proposed policy and invited to comment. Key stakeholders have also been notified of the consultation opportunity.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from January 25, 2021
to March 11, 2021

Connect with us

Contact

Karen Hartley

Phone number
Email address
Office
Ontario Parks - Protected Areas Section
Address

300 Water Street
6th Floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Office phone number