Huron County held its last Natural Heritage Plan open house at the Exeter Public Library in South Huron on June 14.
The purpose of the three information sessions held in Clinton, Wingham and Exeter was to provide information to the public on Huron County’s Natural Heritage Plan and answer any questions they had. Senior planners attended the sessions to provide information and receive feedback.
The Huron Natural Heritage Plan (NHP) summarizes the county’s approach to natural environment planning which includes recommendations for future updates. The NHP also contains supporting information that explains what’s considered ecologically significant; such as wetlands, meadows, woodlots, thickets and shrubs according to Huron County’s planning department. The natural areas mentioned are important in keeping the county a productive area.
The NHP includes four of the following sections:
· Section 1 - Supporting economic development related to forestry, forest products and recreation in natural areas.
· Section 2 - Recognizing and protecting natural heritage systems within municipal Official Plans.
· Section 3 - Recognizing existing regulatory tools including the Forest Conservation By-law.
· Section 4 - Recognizing and supporting the efforts of private property owners, community organizations and agencies in sustainable forestry management and stewardship efforts. (Information can be found on Huron County’s website)
Updated 2015 aerial photographs were displayed which showed aerial views of areas in Huron County such as Morris-Turnberry and South Huron.
“Some of our (Huron County) mapping is based off of historic aerials from 1999 and this is based off of 2015 aerials,” said Huron County senior planner Denise Van Amersfoort pointing at the NHP displays. “There’s just changes on the landscape and that’s what this (the updated aerials) catches…If you were to compare the recent air photos and the 1999 ones, the quality of the 2015 photos are considerably better,” Van Amersfoort explained.
With more accurate mapping Huron County will be able to make informed decisions when making future natural environment plans. The NHP will be implemented locally at the time of a Five Year Review of an Official Plan and Zoning By-law update according to Huron County.
Van Amersfoort says the open houses all went well. “Overall, the three information sessions went well. We had approximately 50 people attend and we were able to clarify many aspects about the draft Huron Natural Heritage Plan and the technical mapping.”
One common question that came up at the sessions was: Whether or not farmers can continue to crop the land in areas adjacent to natural areas? “The answer is yes, nothing has changed in this regard,” Van Amersfoort said in response to the question.
The commenting period will be open until the end of the summer on the county’s website. The public can view the technical mapping and an NHP draft plan online at www.huroncounty.ca. The county welcomes comments and questions that can be posed through the website as well.