At the County of Middlesex, we recognize that passive recreation activities have health and wellness benefits. All of our County woodlots and trails continue to be open to the public, dawn until dusk, for passive recreation activities and we encourage you to visit some greenspace for your physical and mental health during COVID-19. Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and snowshoeing are all permitted.
To ensure individuals and families can access and enjoy these outdoor spaces in a responsible and safe manner, we ask that all individuals observe a few rules for their own and other's safety. During COVID-19, use of County woodlot trails safely includes adhering to the following:
> Please stay at home if you are sick or have been in contact with someone who is sick. Don’t risk other's health and well-being by spreading the virus.
> Enjoy the County woodlots and the trails with your immediate family only. In keeping with Public Health recommendations, we strongly discourage gatherings of groups of people. If you witness inappropriate behavior or large gatherings of people, please do not hesitate to call the number below.
> Practice social distancing. Use the trails safely by keeping a distance of at least two arms lengths (6ft or 2m) between yourself and other visitors.
> Use a residential bathroom before your visit. Washroom facilities are not available at any of our properties.
> Please do not touch signage as the virus can be transferred across hard surfaces.
> Please take all of your belongings with you and dispose of garbage properly. Do not litter on County properties.
> Please note that all motorized vehicles are strictly prohibited from County woodlands, including all trails, and gas pipeline and Hydro rights of way.
> Please wear bright or Hi-Visibility clothing so that other people and motorists can see you.
> Practice street safety. Park off the public highways on the shoulder near entrances and cross roads carefully. Do not block any entrances as they may be needed for emergency services and forestry staff. If several cars are located where you plan to stop, please drive on and choose another location to park.
> While you are hiking you can use the Locate Me icon on our webpage to track your location and if you turn on the county woodlot layer on the left-hand toolbar our properties are all marked clearly with a bold green boundary. Please do not stray onto private property during your activities.
Clean Water Program
The County of Middlesex supports the Clean Water Program through which rural landowners are eligible to apply for funding assistance for eligible projects through their local Conservation Authority. Eligible projects within Middlesex County may include:
- Milkhouse Washwater Disposal
- Clean Water Diversion
- Livestock Access Restriction to Watercourses
- Nutrient Management Plans
- Wellhead Protection
- Decommissioning Unused Wells
- Fertilizer, Chemical and Fuel Storage or Handling
- Septic Systems
- Erosion Control Structures
- Fragile Land Retirement
Supports can be accessed through the Clean Water Program webpage www.cleanwaterprogram.ca. In all cases, the initial intake is completed working with your local Conservation Authority.
Middlesex County currently owns 2,500 acres of woodlands. The County Forest is managed in accordance with a 20‐year Management Plan and five‐year operational plans. In addition, we believe that private landowners have a key role to play to ensure that sustainably managed forests remain a part of Ontario’s future. By‐law 5738 regulates the cutting of trees within woodlands on private property under the Municipal Act.
Hunting is permitted in all woodlots owned by the County of Middlesex. Hunting is regulated under the authority of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry.
Natural Heritage Planning establishes a County-wide comprehensive view of significant natural heritage features. The 2003 Middlesex Natural Heritage Study was incorporated into the County Official Plan in 2006 and has served as the basis for natural heritage planning at the County and municipal levels. In 2014, a Middlesex Natural Heritage Systems Study (MNHSS) was completed on behalf of the County and endorsed in principle by County Council as the basis of future natural heritage planning.
The Weed Control Act regulates noxious weeds growing in close proximity to agricultural crop lands and commercial horticultural lands. Within Middlesex, the County’s ‘Area Weed Inspector’ is also appointed by each local municipality to be the ‘Municipal Weed Inspector.’ Responding primarily to complaints, the Weed Inspector works with staff from local municipalities and other agencies. Weeds can be ordered to be cut, or cut by the County with costs applied to property taxes in accordance with the Municipal Act.