Limerick Forest

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LIMERICK FOREST is 5,788 ha of forest and wetland scattered throughout the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. The forest is owned and managed by the Counties in cooperation with a volunteer advisory committee - the Limerick Forest Advisory Committee.

 

Location / Maps
The majority of Limerick Forest properties are concentrated in the Townships of Augusta and the Village of Merrickville-Wolford in the heart of Grenville County. There are two relatively consolidated tracts of Limerick Forest known as Limerick Forest South and Limerick Forest North. The remainder of Limerick Forest exists in parcels from 5 ha to 270 ha. Some of these parcels are concentrated in the Cranberry Lake area and the North Augusta area of Grenville County; the rest are isolated and scattered throughout the United Counties.

View the Limerick Forest website.

History
Much of the area that is now Limerick Forest was settled in the mid 1800's and cleared for farming. Farms which were located on sandy or very shallow sites proved to be unproductive for agriculture and very susceptible to wind and water erosion. These farms were eventually abandoned and with taxes due, ownership of the land reverted to the townships. What was left essentially were areas of sandy deserts and stony plain waste lands.

Limerick Forest developed as a result of a provincial reforestation initiative. In 1940 the Counties entered into the Agreement Forest Program with the Department of Lands & Forests (now Ministry of Natural Resources) whereby the province agreed to reforest and manage County lands for forestry purposes. Properties acquired for back taxes were the first to be entered into this program. One of these original properties had been settled by Andrew Forsythes, who named the area Limerick in honour of his home county in Ireland, so "Limerick Forest" was adopted as the name for the new Counties forest. In more recent years further properties were purchased with the aid of provincial grants.

Extensive tree planting occurred in Limerick in the early 1940s and 1950s. In total nearly 9 million trees were planted and since the early 1970s the emphasis has changed from planting to tending the forests. The forest was actively managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) until the mid 1990s when forest operations essentially ceased. Provincial restructuring forced the MNR to end the Agreement Forest Program and a process to terminate the numerous forest agreements was initiated.

In 2001 the Counties assumed full management responsibilities for the forest. In cooperation with the Limerick Forest Advisory Committee the forest is being managed for all its natural and social values. In 2003 a long range plan was developed for Limerick Forest with overwhelming public involvement. This plan outlines a vision where the protection of significant ecological features is paramount while natural resource utilization and recreation occur on a sustainable basis and education is promoted in many different facets. More recently a 20 year Forest Management Plan was approved which identifies sustainable targets for the management of wildlife, recreation, timber & resource protection. Limerick Forest is a community owned forest and is being promoted for the use and enjoyment of its owners.

Limerick Forest Advisory Committee
The Limerick Forest Advisory Committee (LFAC) is a group of interested citizens and representatives of organizations or governments agencies, dedicated to the sustainable development of Limerick Forest. LFAC is an official committee to the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville and is directly involved in the management of Limerick Forest.

There are 5 subcommittees of the LFAC:

  1. Administration - recommends rules and regulations for the use of the resource and the operation of the forest.
  2. Ecology - promotes scientific understanding of biodiversity and protects the ecological features of Limerick Forest.
  3. Education - provides outdoor education opportunities and fosters a strong understanding of sustainable resource management.
  4. Forest Resources - makes recommendations pertaining to the management of the resources of Limerick Forest on a sustainable basis for a wide variety of goods and services.
  5. Recreation - makes recommendations supporting a wide range of quality recreational opportunities in a safe environment.

The chairs of each of the subcommittees form the Chairpersons subcommittee which report directly to the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.

The LFAC is a volunteer organization that provides substantial amounts of work for the forest. Projects completed by the volunteers include building and installing sign kiosks and outhouses, trail cleaning, painting Limerick Chalet, writing and editing portions of the Limerick Long Range Plan and holding guided nature walks.

Forestry Operations
The counties currently have two staff reporting to the Director of Public Works who manage Limerick Forest. Forestry operations are continuing in Limerick Forest with plantation tending being one of the higher priority activities.

The objective with the management of plantations is to promote growth and vigour in the trees as well as to promote natural regeneration to occur in the understory. To do this the plantations are thinned, on a regulated basis, by removing a prescribed percentage of the trees. Individual trees are marked for removal based upon spacing and individual tree health and form. By removing the lower quality and crowded stems, what is left is a stand of higher quality trees that have room to grow. This also allows more sunlight to reach the ground and encourages the regeneration of natural tree species.

In the first 5 year operating period 260 ha of conifer plantations were thinned. The trees are harvested on a selective basis and most of the wood produced will end as lumber inside furniture or as pressure treated landscape ties.

Ecology
Limerick Forest is a landscape rich in diversity and wildlife habitat. The wetlands in particular contain a variety of significant features and species. Of the 11 evaluated wetlands in Limerick Forest, 7 have been provincially designated as Significant Wetlands and as such are protected from development. Furthermore 3 of these wetlands have been designated as Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). Much of the forest has also been evaluated as Significant Woodlands, based on, among other things, their interior forest size, proximity to water and connectivity with other woodlands.

The Ecology Subcommittee of the LFAC is working to protect and enhance the ecological values of Limerick Forest. The subcommittee has initiated projects to identify and protect areas for the development of old growth forests, to monitoring ecological changes in the forest and create bird nesting structures.

Education
Limerick Forest has been an ongoing centre for outdoor education. Everything from childrens´ programs to professional research has occurred here. In fact many of the trees were planted by children as part of a school program.

The Limerick Chalet is the old Limerick school house (more recently the MNR office) and is in the process of being upgraded in order to host educational activities in the forest. Today, the Education subcommittee of the LFAC is leading the education component of Limerick Forest and assist with programs such as the annual Envirothon and the Athens District High School Natural Resource and Outdoor Studies class.

Recreation
Most of Limerick Forest has been designated for multi use recreation and the recreational opportunities are endless. Hiking, dog walking, ATVing, motorbiking, mountain biking, horse riding, bird watching and hunting are some of the more popular activities.

Limerick Forest South Tract is a trail riding destination with over 20 km of unimproved access roads for ATV, horseback riding etc. and another 30 km of single track for motorcycling and mountain biking. All the trails are multi-use and have both active and passive users with mutual respect being the policy here.

The Recreation Subcommittee of LFAC is striving to improve the quality and safety of Limerick recreation and have been improving the signage, mapping and parking in the forest.

Limerick Forest Policies

  • Trails are multi-use and open for motorized and non motorized vehicles.
  • Camping is restricted to scout or youth groups and by permit only.
  • Cutting of trees or firewood and the digging of trees or shrubs is restricted and requires a permit.
  • Hunting is allowed in accordance with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, however the construction of permanent tree stands is not allowed.
  • Dumping or Littering is strictly prohibited.

Contact Info
For further assistance please contact:

Forest Manager
25 Central Ave. W., Suite 100
Brockville, ON
K6V 4N6

Phone: (613) 342-9246 ext. 2416
Fax: (613) 342-3069
Email