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Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority (SSMRCA)
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Forest Management

photo of treesThe SSMRCA owns and manages approximately 2,070 hectares (5117 acres) of land that contain five conservation areas as well as the Headwater and Burke Properties.

The 5 conservation areas are:

The SSMRCA properties cover nearly 7% of the City of Sault Ste. Marie and the Township of Prince. In order to ensure that the diversity within the SSMRCA properties will be maintained for future generations, the SSMRCA engaged in a public consultation process in order to determine the best way to develop a plan to manage the properties.

Forest Management Plan Development

Prior to a Forest Management Plan being written for the SSMRCA, a Steering Committee was organized which consisted of 12 members from different sectors such as: Academia, Ministry of Natural Resources, Local Forestry Businesses, the Sault Naturalists, City of Sault Ste. Marie and concerned citizens. This committee was responsible for guiding the selection process for a consultant that would write the Forest Management Plan. The resulting recommendation was then approved by the Conservation Authority Board. Public participation was also a key component after the Conservation Authority’s Forest Management Plan was written in 1997. Two public consultations took place as part of the forest management planning process. All stakeholders comments were taken into consideration prior to final approval of the Forest Management Plan.

The primary objectives of this plan were:

  • to implement sound forest management practices on the SSMRCAs land
  • to promote the improvement in the health and quality of their forests
  • to allow the Conservation Authority to qualify for a reduction in property tax via government incentive programs, that will financially assist the Conservation Authority in making its properties available to the public
  • to provide and/or maintain recreational and educational opportunities for the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie and surround area
  • to provide environmental protection for the wetlands within some of the conservation areas as well as maintaining habitat for wildlife species.

The Ontario government encourages private land stewardship through information and incentives and by providing a framework for protection of resources. One of the incentive programs is the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP) which offers a reduction in property taxes to landowners of forested land who prepare a plan and agree to be good stewards of their property.

In order to be eligible for MFTIP the property owner must meet certain qualifications:

  • greater than 4 hectares (9.88 acres) of forested land and owned by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • a commitment to good stewardship
  • a managed forest plan approved by a Managed Forest Plan Approver

The Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP) is another incentive program which is offered to reduce property taxes to landowners who agree to protect the natural heritage feature(s) identified by MNR on their land. Activities that would degrade, destroy, or result in the loss of the natural values of the site are not allowed. Eligible lands include: provincially significant wetlands; provincially significant areas of natural and scientific interest (ANSI); habitat of endangered species to name a few. This program however, applies only to eligible conservation agencies.

Current Forest Management Plan

The SSMRCAs Forest Management Plan written by Regen Forestry (Brent Attwell R.F.P. & Peter Gagon R.F.P.) as per the requirements for the Managed forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP). The plan was developed following three formal public consultation events and through ongoing communication with stakeholders and the committees and Boards of the SSMRCA.

The SSMRCA owns and manages approximately 2, 070 hectares (5117 acres) of land within the City of Sault Ste. Marie and Prince Township. The SSMRCA land comprises eight blocks of land known as Hiawatha Highlands Conservation Area, Fort Creek Conservation Area, Headwater Property, Burke Property, Walls Lake Property, Gros Cap Conservation Area, Shore Ridges Conservation Area and the Mark's Bay Conservation Area. 

The Forest Management Plan is a guide for forestry activities, including forest management, provisions for wildlife habitat, recreation and education. It provides the overall direction for an ecosystem-based approach to the management of the SSMRCAs forested properties.

The objectives of the Forest Management Plan are:

  • Watershed Protection
  • Environment
  • Financial
  • Wildlife Habitat
  • Recreation
  • Enhanced Community Involvement and Communications
  • Social, Cultural and Educational Research
  • Forest Products

Progress in the implementation of the Forest Management Plan has been included in ongoing reports to the Conservation Authority Board. Review of the current plan will form the basis for modifications to the plan in the future.

In order to be sustainable, forests have to be protected from insects, disease, extreme weather events, competing vegetation and forest fires. Although these influences are parts of natural forest ecosystems they can result in serious losses to the sustainability of a forest.

Generally speaking, in Ontario, forests are managed under one of three silvicultural systems:

  • the clearcut system
  • the shelterwood system
  • the selection system

The SSMRCA manages its forests with the selection system by identifying individual trees or small groups of trees to be cut. Before the cutting begins, a licensed tree marker indicates which trees are marked for cutting or to be retained. Some trees are retained to provide food or for wildlife habitat, and some may be left for aesthetic reasons. After harvesting regeneration takes place naturally from stump or root sprouts or from seed from the remaining forest. This system results in a stand of trees with different ages.

The Conservation Authority’s commitment to healthy forests encompasses all of its owned property, although it should be noted that these are not Crown forests and as such stewardship responsibilities differ.

Sustainable forest management is based on considering social, economic and environmental values when planning and implementing forest management activities and providing people with jobs, recreational opportunities and a healthy, sustainable forest, now and in the future.

TD Tree Day with the SSMRCA

Related Documents
Forest Management
pdf.png file type SSMRCA 2017 Managed Forest Plan Final Draft Approved
(SSMRCA Board approved Managed Forest Plan Final Draft on June 20, 2017.)
pdf.png file type Public Consultation Session - Tuesday, March 7, 2017
(Algoma-Manitoulin Forestry Services will be holding a Public Consultation Session for an updated Managed Forest Plan on behalf of the Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority (SSMRCA) on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Russ Ramsay Room in the Civic Centre, 99 Foster Drive. )