Update July 2009
by Christine Hanrahan
PROTECTION AND DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR LAROSE FOREST
Several years ago, the UCPR hired Horizon Multiressource Inc. (HMR), to create a "Protection and Development Plan" for the Larose Forest. The work wrapped up in early 2008 and a public meeting to discuss the final draft of the PDP was held in Limoges, on May 28, 2008. The finished product was released later in the year. The report was reviewed in all its different stages by the Larose Forest Advisory Committee. On behalf of the OFNC, I sit on the committee representing the interests of naturalists, and was thus able to provide some input into the plan from our perspective.
HMR spent a considerable amount of time in Larose Forest. They looked at trails, culverts, roads, recreational usage, cultural and historical sites, habitats, wildlife usage, and undertook flora and fauna inventories. They produced detailed maps of, amongst many things, the geology, hydrology, habitats, wildlife areas, wildlife usage, and recreational trails. Forestry is a component of the PDP, on which aspect they worked closely with South Nation Conservation.
HMR was charged with the unenviable task of reconciling protection of the natural habitat on the one hand with human usage on the other and their final recommendations, which are numerous, reflect this reality.
Recommendations arising from the PDP: The recommendations were divided into four phases. Phase 1, to be implemented within a year, includes some of the easier, less costly, but nonetheless important recommendations such as installation of better signage in the forest, re-building the picnic shelter on Concession 11, and control of invasive species, particularly buckthorn which is spreading quickly in the forest. Phases 2 to 4 would be implemented over the next four or five years as financing and time permit.
Of interest to naturalists are plans for the construction of an interpretive centre. Several designs have been submitted for this centre, which will be a green building using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines. The goal is for the centre to be used by groups and individuals engaged in scientific research in the forest; as a classroom for schools and universities conducting outdoor education in Larose; and for the general public to learn about both the natural and cultural history of the forest.
South Nation Conservation (SNC) continues to manage forestry operations for the UCPR in all country forests, including Larose. A 20-year Management Plan and a 5-year Operational Plan have been developed. The plan takes into account the necessity to accommodate wildlife concerns when working in the forest. Thus, established guidelines which call for a certain number of snags (standing dead trees, homes for woodpeckers and many other birds and animals) to be left standing, as well as the retention of mast trees for wildlife, and setbacks from waterways, will be followed.
In Larose, logging will focus on thinning the plantation stands. Revenue from logging goes into a special Larose Forest fund to help pay for such things as the new picnic shelter, forest signs, and numerous other items specifically related to Larose.
In 2006 Larose Forest attained Forest Stewardship Council certification (FSC). This is a significant achievement as it recognizes that the forest is being sustainably managed with environmental standards adhered to. In publicizing this certification, it was noted that "The Forest Stewardship Council is an international, membership-based, non-profit organization that supports environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests. (Press release from Scott Davis, Forest Certification Coordinator with the EOMF, July 2006). Larose Forest is very proud of this recognition, and deservedly so.
LAROSE FOREST 80TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
After the 2007 BioBlitz, and using the momentum our committee had built up during two years of working together, we began planning a community celebration of the forest which would focus on the 80th anniversary of Larose Forest in 2008. It was in1928 that the first trees were planted, and 80 years on we can see the vast forest that flourishes on the site where once only blow sand deserts held sway (Hanrahan 2004). The celebration was held at the site of the old picnic shelter on Concession 11, which is also the trail head for many of the year-round outdoor activities in Larose.
We asked all the user groups, including the OFNC representing the naturalists' interests, to set up displays for the event which took place on 27 September, 2008. In addition to the OFNC, we had representatives from the ATV, Motocross and snowmobile federations, the equestrian group, dog-sledders, and skiers. We also created a large photographic display showing the early days of tree-planting, the horse-logging era, the work carried out during the MNR period, and that of the present day. There were guided walks for a variety of forest-centred interests, including birds, trees, general natural history, current logging practices, and the history of the Grant settlement, which once existed along Concession 11. We offered a BBQ lunch at a minimal cost to visitors, which was well received! A special 80th anniversary T-shirt was created for the occasion.
We issued an open invitation for this special celebration to all those who had worked in the forest over the years. We were very honoured to have Mr. Latreille attend. He was one of the first tree-planters in Larose, 80 years ago! Now in his 90s, he was clearly delighted to be at the anniversary celebrations. It was also a special honour to welcome Madame Larose, daughter of Ferdinand Larose, after whom the forest is named (for more on Ferdinand Larose, see Hanrahan 2004). Both she and Mr. Latreille, along with local Mayors and others, helped to plant the large red oak which commemorated the anniversary.
Given the success of the event, we're planning to have a community picnic at the same site every two years. Keep your eyes peeled for details for 2010.
RECREATIONAL PURSUITS IN LAROSE
The UCPR has instigated signed agreements with organized groups, such as the Ontario Federation of All Terrain Vehicle Clubs (OFATV), the Ontario Federaton of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), Mush Larose (dog-sledders), Ski Larose, and the local equestrian group. These groups are allowed certain trails for their use, with the understanding that some would be multi-use trails, while others would be exclusive to a particular group. In order to ride a snowmobile or an ATV in Larose, you must be a member of the relevant federation. By-law officers, along with federation wardens, and sometimes the OPP, patrol the forest frequently, and fines for infractions are steep! So be warned. If you want to ride your ATV in Larose, you had better buy a membership in the OFATV! Or, if snowmobiling, the OFSC.
Skiing has really taken off as a winter activity in the forest. There are 18 kilometres of groomed trails. Ski trails are off-limits in winter to hunting, hiking, dogs, and motorized vehicles, but are used by hikers and equestrians in summer. The ATV and snowmobile groups have their own trails, but people can walk along them. All trails are signposted. Many trails are off-limits to all motorized vehicles year-round, (excluding forest staff who need access to the trails for maintenance). ATV and snowmobile trails, as well as most of the concession roads, are closed to traffic from the end of March (or earlier depending on conditions) to mid-May to minimize damage to them.
FLORA AND FAUNA SPECIES LISTS
Lichens and Mosses
Also noteworthy is the discovery in the last few years of several locations for the Pepper-and-Salt Skipper (Amblyscirtes hegon), considered to be an S3 species (Vulnerable in Ontario; 80 or fewer occurrences) by the National Heritage Information Centre (NHIC), and regionally significant. See Butterflies of Larose Forest
Moths: Thanks to Diane Lepage, our Moth list now stands at 211 species. As Diane notes, there are many species yet to be added. See Moths of Larose Forest
Dragonflies and Damselflies: Thirty-five species of Odonates have been found to date in Larose Forest, including Delta-spotted Spiketail and Halloween Pennant (considered scarce in this area) (Bracken and Lewis 2008), Black Meadowhawk (Sympetrum danae), listed as rare and local (IBID), and Horned Clubtail (Arigomphus cornutus). The latter three are also considered S3 species (Vulnerable in Ontario; 80 or fewer occurrences) by the NHIC. See Dragonflies and damselflies of Larose Forest
Other insects: This list includes flies, beetles, bugs, everything not covered by the three groups above. We've only scratched the surface of the number and diversity to be found here, with a list standing at 389 species. See Insects of Larose Forest
Reptiles and Amphibians
These lists are updated regularly.More information is available on the website of the UCPR.
A gallery of hundreds of photos of Larose Forest, including photos of plants and animals, can be found at: www.pbase.com/laroseforest