Dead trees piled near the Oil Heritage District Community Center are the only sign of a small stand of trees that stood there until August.
It was one of those unusual areas in an urban area which could have been considered a woodlot under Lambton County’s Woodlot bylaw.
But Lambton County’s Woodlot Officer, Tim Payne, wasn’t aware the trees had been cut. After a brief investigation, Payne says the trees were dying and wouldn’t have required a permit to remove, but under the woodlot bylaw, Payne says the owner should have contacted the county to ask.
Payne says it brings to light one of the problems with the county’s rules surrounding the care of woodlots, not a lot of people know about them.
“We don’t encourage people to cut first and ask questions later,” he says.
Petrolia Mayor John McCharles is one of the few people in town who are likely to know about the rules. As a member of county council, McCharles has been reading reports about revising the current rules for months now. He’s also heard about the regulations from developers he deals with in his real estate business. But he believes many people don’t know about the rules.
“You kind of think of woodlot being out in the agricultural area, we don’t have a lot of agricultural ground,” he says. “There are not a lot of spots in town where you would call it a woodlot.”
But McCharles says town residents should know about the rules surrounding woodlots “If you cut …a substantial woodlot, you would be in trouble,” he says. “Sometimes I wonder if people understand that or ignore it.”
McCharles says when the new rules come into place, there needs to better promotion of them.
Payne agrees. “I’d like to focus on promotion and education in the new year when the bylaw is approved.”
The revised woodlot bylaw is likely to come to county council in November.