History of the Larose Forest

From a primaeval forest to desert to forest once again - the story of the Larose Forest is a fascinating one! Well over 10,000 years ago - the Champlain Sea covered all of Eastern Ontario. Time passed. The seas receeded and a broad river delta deposited a great amount of sand. This area remained submerged under extra channels of the Ottawa River until about 7,750 years ago. Material dumped by glaciers was reworked by the disappearing channels of the river, which ran from the east end of Ottawa through the Mer Bleue bogs to Alfred. What remained was the sandy soil of Larose Forest.

At the beginning of the 1800s, the Royal Navy's need for tall, straight ship masts, coupled with a demand for building timber in England, sparked a century of intensive logging. In 1806, Philomen Wright, the City of Hull's founding father, sent his first raft of squared timber down the Ottawa River to Quebec City. By the middle of the century, John R. Booth, the area's biggest timber baron, began exporting squared timber to Britain and the United States.

By 1857, there were mills operating at Lemieux, Riceville, Fournier and St. Isidore de Prescott supplying lumber to an insatiable United States market. By 1860, the seemingly indestructible forests had been all but destroyed. To keep mills going, even small trees left after the first assault were cut. By the turn of the century, ravished timber resources were finally, inevitably exhausted. By the start of the 20th century, agricultural land clearing and large fires had reduced much of the Prescott and Russell landscape to a desert. By the end of the First World War, wind storms crossed the denuded, burnt-over remnants of settler's farms and whipped the fine sand into dunes.

The Man Behind It

This unique forest bears the name of its originator, Ferdinand Larose, Prescott-Russell's first agricultural reprensentative. He was hired by the Ontario Department of Agriculture shortly after his graduation from the Oka Agricultural Institute in Quebec. An ambitious and bright young man, Mr. Larose saw the urgency of a reforestation plan for the Bourget Desert region - it was the only way to protect farmland from further erosion and to save sandy areas. He began experimental planting in 1921 but it wasn't until 1928 that the original pine plantings were done on the first 40.5 hectares of blow sand. With a total land area of 10 540 hectares (26 044 acres), the Larose Forest is now the second largest plantation forest in Southern Ontario.

Since the beginning of year 2000, the United Counties of Prescott and Russell has taken over the planning and management of our public forest - the Larose Forest. This new management role of the Larose Forest is an excellent opportunity to maximise and promote this important natural resource for the whole of the Prescott and Russell community. The club has a new member who is on the Larose Forest Advisory Committee. He'll be keeping us informed about what is being planned for the Forest

Larose Forest Report

Tue, 1 Apr 2003 00:54:59 -0500 Hello Everyone,

Last Tuesday, the Larose Forest Advisory Committee had another meeting. We gathered together to talk and discuss this year's steps to start improving the forest, its visibility and talk about new issues and other stuff related to the forest.

We started by being briefed by Maurice Poulin about the process and status of some issues and recommendations we had made to the United Counties in the previous meeting we had this year.

The Francoscenie Project: As you know, the committee had reviewed the project over a few meetings, we had come to some recommendations and pointed our areas of concern to the United counties as to the Francoscenie project in the last meetings. These were taken into consideration by the United counties, and they had a discussion over all this in their previous meetings as well. As most of you now know, the Strategique Plan for the Larose Forest didn't include provisions for a project of that type before it was established before the project was presented to the United counties. Some modifications to the Strategique Plan were necessary if that project was ever to see the Light of Day. The project originally requested to be Leased 310 Acres of land on the North East portion of the Forest, because it needed some Buffer Zones for Spraying Insecticide product to control the Mosquito population on that area. The United Counties revised this, and decided that if there was to be any area leased, it would be a maximum of 180 Acres for that particular project. This Also leaves the portions of trees to the south of the project area, which was composed of one of the last site of some rare tree species that still live in the forest, untouched. With these main requirements, the United Counties decided to amend the Strategique Plan so the project can now be allowed to proceed. As stated by Maurice though, in most cases where there is a project in forest areas, there is approval by the cities, but then the public has 30 days to make an appeal. If it goes into appeal, and Maurice stated it often does, then it goes into the Ontario Municipal Board which will look into the project to evaluate the appeal. As most appeal have been in the past, this process if it goes into appeal, will probably delay the process a year if not two. We now have a good assumption that the project won't be ready for this year, and probably not next year either if it goes to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Larose Forest Signage and posting: Marc Denis (Chief forest Technician) had requested from the united counties that funds be allocated in the Budget this year. The Budgets have been reviewed and 5000$ for Signage and posting signs were allocated for this year. Main Signs will be posted at the main entrances and also sign postings will be used for winter for the two dedicated trail areas for the Snowmobile Association and the Ski Larose group.

Pamphlets: The Counties have allocated an amount for Pamphlets for advertisement of the Forest. There is currently a group that is designing those pamphlets and hopefully, the committee will have a chance to take a look at them in the coming months.

After being updated on those subjects, we then moved on to other areas which needed discussion.

The committee approved a new Recreational policy which holds some rules and goals for the management of the forest in the coming years. There is a lot of points which aren't completely explained, but rather give an idea of the direction we are going to take. Of course, there is still a lot of things that will need clarifying and more discussion, but in whole, it is a excellent starting base for which to build a better forest. We reviewed this and approved it then moved on to clarify some points. Here are two points which we discussed at this meeting.

Larose Forest Spring (thaw) Closure: Most of you know that when the spring is here, the snow melts and the grounds gets soft. Larose is no exception to that rule, and in the spring it becomes a swamp in most areas and roads. Larose often times become dangerous to travel at more than 40-50 km/h. For Big rigs that travel on the road, the Ministry of transportation has had for years a Thaw period which limits the weight of vehicle that are supposed to travel. Since the Main roads in Larose are public Roads, the same rules applies to trucks. As for the trails, there was never any rules to follow in order to help the environment survive threw a spring without damage. Thus The committee has agreed that there should also be a "Thaw" period where we should prohibit the usage of the forest by Motorized vehicles. The Thaw this year as already been started (EOTB has already advised its members to stay out of the forest until reopening). There will be a Thaw period each year which will be announced by the Chief Technician of the forest. When the thaw is in effect, there shall be no motorized vehicle traffic in Larose forest, except for Main roads, and access to certain areas for the residents of Larose. The thaw period normally last from 1st of April to 15th of May each year. This period will be flexible depending on the weather. Thus, it might be shorter for a year, but then again, the other year, it could last two weeks more. The committee felt that we needed that flexibility in order to be able to better serve the forest and its user at the same time.

Open house (Blitz Days): There will be coming up this year at least a few blitz days where the public will be invited to come to the forest and learn things about it like its history, its natural value, and its recreational opportunities, etc. These will be put forth to promote the forest to the public and try to bring the public back to it. Stay tuned for more information.

Next meeting will be at the end of the month where I will be providing another report.

Thanks

Yannick Lamontagne
Larose Forest Advisory Committee Member
Eastern Ontario Trailblazers 4x4 Club.