About Friends of the Carp Hills

Vision: To preserve the Carp Hills for the benefit of nature and the community in perpetuity. Mission: To forge a partnership of private landowners, community groups, local residents, organizations, businesses, the City of Ottawa, and other levels of government working together to create an eco-connected area of wilderness conservation and public access in the Carp Hills.

FCH Signs Agreement with DUC

Friends of the Carp Hills signed an agreement today with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) to support stewardship of DUC’s 440 acre (178 hectare) property in the Carp Hills.  The agreement states that DUC and FCH will develop and implement a management plan for the property to protect it and to provide managed public access.  The agreement is similar to the agreement that FCH has with the City of Ottawa for the Crazy Horse Trail and other City-owned property in the Carp Hills. DUC has commissioned an ecological study of the site that will inform stewardship activities such as trail locations and education.  

Under the leadership of Mark Gloutney, Director of Regional Operations Eastern Region, DUC acquired the property in early 2018 for conservation purposes.

Read more about the DUC conservation property here.

Fall Colours Hike on 21 Oct

We invite you to join us for a guided hike in the Carp Hills on Sunday, 21 October at 1:30pm.  We will start on private property at Donald B. Munro Drive, where we will ascend the escarpment for one of the best views of the Carp River valley.  We’ll then cross over onto city-owned land for a scenic view over a wetland near the Crazy Horse Trail, and return to where we started.

Make sure you wear hiking boots or other sturdy shoes. We will be crossing 15m of wetland on a narrow, temporary boardwalk. Some sections of the hike are wet.

We encourage everyone to bring their cameras and post their photos to our Facebook page.  The best photo (as judged by the FCH executive) will be used as our Facebook banner.

There is no need to pre-register.  The event will run rain or shine (unless it’s pouring!). A donation of $10 is appreciated to help cover our insurance costs.  Since we will be starting and ending on private land, participants must stay with the guides and group.  You will be asked to sign a waiver, which you can download and bring to the event.  We will have some paper copies on-site for those who forget to bring them.

To get there:  Park behind The Carp Cabin at 211 Donald B. Munro Drive.  Walk across the road, through the gate, and up the gravel track until you reach the open grassy area where you will register and gather before the hike. 

People participate in this event at their own risk.  Wear hiking boots and tuck your socks into your pants. The terrain is very rugged and the climb is steep.  The trail may be wet and slippery. You may hike through poison ivy.  Black-legged ticks are present and may carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

You can download and print the waiver (PDF) here.

Carp Barrens: Interim Conservation Measures

As a result of the public meeting we held and the feedback we received about the Carp Barrens, the City of Ottawa has instituted Interim Conservation Measures to protect the land that it owns in this ecologically sensitive area.  On 13 September the City sent a letter outlining these measures to organizations connected to or known to use the Carp Barrens.

City of Ottawa Interim Conservation Letter (PDF)

The letter recognizes the agreement we have with the City to assist with stewardship of city properties in the Carp Hills.  Our next step is to conduct an ecological assessment with a focus on the areas around the unauthorized trails.  We will provide updates as this proceeds.

Trail cutting through orchids.

Forest Therapy in the Carp Hills


In celebration of National Forest Week, we are pleased to offer some” Tree Time” on Tuesday September 25th from 1000 am to 1230 pm. As part of this fundraiser, we will be guided by certified Forest Therapy guide Andrea Prazmowski (http://www.foresttherapyottawa.ca). Over the course of this gentle 2.5 hour exploration, Andrea will invite us to deepen our connection to the forest and nature. Refreshed and calmed by the forest, we will end with snacks and tea.

Meet at the trailhead for the Crazy Horse Trail on March Road at Huntmar Drive. Come dressed with sturdy footwear and protection from possible mosquitoes and ticks.

Tickets are $20 (plus fees) and must be purchased in advance through Eventbrite. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/forest-therapy-in-the-carp-hills-tickets-50164205489

This is a rain or shine event. The forest never disappoints.

If you have any questions, please contact Maureen Rae.

Carp Barrens Feedback and Survey Results

In June we asked people for feedback about human use of the Carp Barrens and we held a public meeting where we facilitated discussions about a set of questions related to conservation and human use.  Councillor Eli El-Chantiry and Senior Planner Nick Stow from the City’s Resiliency and Natural Systems Planning Unitattended.  At the start of the meeting, the FCH and Nick Stow presented information about the area’s ecological significance and the effect of increasing human use on the sensitive landscape and wildlife.  Dr. Stow stated that the area could not sustain the same level of use as the South March Highlands due to the thin soils and lichen-covered rock terrain.  We also asked meeting attendees to fill in a survey.  We divided people into six groups around separate tables. FCH facilitators walked each group through a set of questions.  We recorded the discussion and comments.

We had 75 people attend the meeting, which does not include ten people from the FCH or the City.  Fifty-two people filled in the survey.  On our sign-in sheet, 41% of attendees self-identified as mountain bikers by designating themselves as being from OMBA or MV Trails, but we had more than that attend our meeting who mountain bike according to the survey; i.e. 22 people who self-identified with a mountain bike organization filed in the survey, but 28 people indicated they bike on the Barrens.

Nineteen survey respondents provided additional comments on the back of the survey.  Twelve people who could not attend the meeting sent us comments via Facebook or email.

We have provided all of the survey information, feedback, and notes from the public meeting table sessions to Councillor El-Chantiry and Nick Stow.  City staff will consider feedback from this meeting in a review of its management practices for sensitive habitats.  We thank everyone for taking the time to attend the meeting, write us emails, and fill-in the survey.

Survey Results

Most of the survey questions were not multiple choice, so respondents could provide any information they wished in response.  Some only answered a few questions and left others blank.

Most survey respondents go to the Barrens for hiking (31) and biking (29).  Other uses include snowshoeing/skiing (13), birding (4), and other nature appreciation (6).

Eight people said that parking on Thomas Dolan Parkway is dangerous, but 37 said they had no problems there.


We asked people how important it is to protect the animal and plant life (multiple choice).  71% said it was very important, 27% somewhat important, and 2% provided no answer.



49% think the Barrens should be more accessible for recreation, 33% said noit should not, and 14% said maybe with the remaining providing no answer.

We asked what activities should and should not be permitted.  Respondents could list as many as they wished.  Respondents only supported human-powered activities:  hiking (45), winter pedestrian sports (42), biking (36), and nature appreciation (5).  Motorized vehicles (40), hunting (10), biking (5), and horses (4) were the top activities that should not be permitted.

Public Meeting Table Comments

We asked each table to discuss the following questions:

  1. What are the challenges in providing human use of the Carp Barrens? 
  2. How could these challenges be addressed? 
  3. What do you think about the Carp Barrens accommodating both human use and conservation? Why? How?
  4. What do you think should be the most important goals of a City policy for managing its natural areas? Why?
  5. Is there anything else you’d like to discuss about the Carp Barrens?

Following the meeting, we divided the comments into 9 categories and provide a summary below.

City and Planning

The common themes were that the area should be protected from development and population pressures, the City should have different policies for different areas, the City should look at what has worked elsewhere for mixed use, and it should look at the big picture for the Carp Hills, not just the Barrens.


All tables recognized that the Barrens are ecologically sensitive and should be protected.  Protection suggestions ranged from closing it entirely to setting aside zones for recreation and for conservation.  Some suggested that bike use should be taken off the Barrens and moved to another designated area in the Carp Hills.

Education and Communication

Many users did not know that their activities could disrupt wildlife and that moving rocks destroyed habitat.  There was a strong consensus for better communication about the ecological sensitivity of the Barrens and for signage; e.g. “stay on the trail”.  One innovative suggestion was to require users to buy a pass for each season, which could only be obtained after attending an education session.  

Environmental Assessment

There was also strong consensus on the need for an environmental assessment to determine the location of sensitive areas.  The existing trails were made without conservation consultation or regard to habitat, and may need to be moved or closed.


Only three comments were made about the need for funding for signage or for building a parking lot.


There was no consensus on parking.  Comments included building a parking lot that would limit the number of users at any one time, widening the shoulder, reducing the speed limit, and leave it as is.


There was a broad range of comments on signs:  no signs because they ruin the wilderness experience, signs only at TD Parkway, signs explaining the sensitivity of the area, interpretive signs, private property signs at boundaries, “no-go” zones signs, and signs warning hunters about trail users and vice versa.


Most of the comments were about the need for trail maintenance by a recognized group and making boardwalks to replace the berms constructed in the wetlands.

Use Management

Use Management had by the far the most comments, many related to the concern about attracting more users to the site.  Comment themes were:  prohibiting use at certain times of the year (e.g. breeding season), allowing only winter use, closing trails, keeping people on the trails, restricting the number of users at any one time, having separate trails for hikers and bikers, formally monitoring and managing to prevent over-use and new trail creation, establishing trail use rules, and prohibiting motorized vehicles.  Bikers commented that the area is popular in the spring, because it dries up quickly when the South March Highlands are still wet, and it offers easy to medium level difficulty in unique terrain.

Summary of Feedback – Our Interpretation

The vast majority of people who provided comments and came to the meeting want to protect the plant and animal life of the Carp Barrens.  There is also strong support for human-powered activities on the Barrens.  These two views may be at odds:  conservationists believe the area is too fragile to allow significant human use while others advocate that staying on a trail protects the ecology.  There is a fear that formalizing a trail system will attract even more people and make the problems worse.

There is also a divide between those who want to experience peaceful appreciation of nature without the distraction of bikes and those who believe that both pedestrians and bikes can co-exist peacefully and respectfully.  South March Highlands was cited as both a negative example by the former group (“I don’t go there any more to enjoy nature because of the bikes”) and a positive example by the latter group of successful shared trail use.

There is a need to conduct an environmental assessment for particularly sensitive habitat; e.g. bird nesting areas (particularly ground nesters), turtle nesting areas, turtle basking areas, and locations of rare and sensitive plants (e.g. orchids, lichens, etc).  It should focus on the areas around the current trails.  We are in discussion with the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club about helping with this assessment.  Information would be provided to the City.

Education of all user groups is essential.  Self-policing is the most effective way to regulate rogue use and prevent new trail creation.

We need to work with the City to erect some signs near trail entrances on Thomas Dolan Parkway that are inconspicuous from the road, but clearly visible to people entering the area.

Looking forward a hundred years from now, everyone wants this beautiful area to remain natural and as unaffected by human use as possible.

Carp Barrens Public Meeting

The Friends of the Carp Hills (FCH) invites you to a public meeting at the Huntley Community Centre Mess Hall at 2240 Craig Side Road, on 11 June at 7 p.m. to share your views on the conservation and use of the Carp Barrens on land owned by the City of Ottawa. Councillor El-Chantiry and City staff will be on hand to participate and answer questions.

The FCH has an agreement with the City of Ottawa to maintain low-impact recreation trails for public use in the Carp Hills.  The FCH has offered to host the meeting in this capacity and as a community organization and will publicly post feedback from the meeting on its website.

In the last two years, public use of the Carp Barrens for hiking, hunting, mountain biking, dirt biking, birding, field naturalist outings, orienteering, snowshoeing, and skiing has increased substantially.  Users have created and marked new trails without City authorization. The sensitive vegetation and wildlife of the area have experienced damage and disturbance. Parking on the narrow shoulder of Thomas A. Dolan Parkway creates a safety hazard.

The City’s policies for its natural lands do not distinguish between more and less sensitive habitats in regulating uses. City staff will consider feedback from this meeting in a review of its management practices.

Please come and tell us how you see the future of the Carp Barrens for the preservation of nature and the enjoyment of people.
The Carp Barrens
The City’s property in the Carp Barrens consists of approximately 1,000 acres on the north and south sides of Thomas A. Dolan Parkway (see map).  The area consists of Canadian Shield covered by delicate lichen and moss mats, forests on thin, easily eroded soils, and provincially significant wetlands.  It provides habitat for numerous species at risk, and is a candidate for the designation of Provincially Significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (Life Science).

For more information see our web page about the Carp Barrens.

The Carp Barrens property owned by the City of Ottawa is shown in purple.
(Note: The subdivision plan shown in the area south of Thomas Dolan Parkway relates to an old proposal that is no longer in effect.)

History of Hills – Part 2

You never know what you’ll find when you start looking! 

Seeking to know more about the history of “The Carp Hills” we found ourselves fascinated by our visit to an historic farm bordering the northern parts of the ridge . The farm buildings include logs harvested as long ago as 1829. This part of the township was surveyed by Reuben Sherwood in 1822. Sherwood ( 1775-1851)was the son of one of the first Loyalists to settle in Leeds County and was a Provincial Land Surveyor. The property has revealed ancient hide scrapers, and a whole collection of clay pipes , some bearing the mark of Robert Bannerman Clay Pipes from Montreal (1855-1907).

The owner of this wonderful property shared her research about the ancient history of her farm dating back over 11,000 years to the time of the Champlain Sea.

The Champlain Sea was a temporary inlet of the Atlantic Ocean created by retreating glaciers in the last ice age. The sea included lands where we now live . 

In this next map (see below) provided by our host we can see the “island “ of the Carp Ridge floating in the sea. The historic farm we visited had previously been on the shores of the Champlain Sea. Evidence of ancient Indigenous peoples activities is present on this land, including fire rings on what would have been the shoreline.

We have respected the owners desire for anonymity but thank them for their generosity in sharing their research. Perhaps in future editions we can share more news from an archeological assessment of the property.  Stay tuned.

If you have history about the Carp Hills that you’d like to share, Contact Us.

DUC Carp Land Public Presentation – 9 May 2018

The following are notes of the Questions and Answers from the meeting.

Will there be established routes?
DUC: Want controlled access and trails, location based on the ecological assessment.

Is there another access point?
DUC: Not at this time.

Want private property boundaries marked so that users don’t stray onto private land.
DUC – There will be something. Had 40 acres beside the village surveyed.

What does the management plan contain?
DUC: Describes permitted activities, conservation goals, ecological assessment, activity plan.

DUC – There is a trail now, historic use, should continue unless there are serious problems (don’t want ATV or truck use).
Councillor El-Chantiry – It’s easy to work with organized groups such as the snowmobile club.

Is there a plan to set barricades on Glenncastle to prevent vehicles from using the entrance?
DUC: Current structures are effective.

How will DUC deal with hunters and hikers both using the property?
DUC – Maybe post dates, encourage wearing orange. Hunting is currently allowed; shotgun, not rifle.

Where will hunters get permission to hunt?
DUC: From DUC.

You said that DUC supports sustainable hunting. If a trapper came to you with the requisite permits and asked for written permission to harvest beavers—or any furbearers—on your property, would you (DUC) give it to them?
DUC: I would have to think long and hard about that.

What about mountain bikes?
DUC: If bikes degrade trails and affect conservation values, then won’t be allowed. It’s about the impact on the land.

Scouts: Bikes are allowed in South March Highlands and that’s why the scouts stay away from it. Scouts will contact FCH about work on the trails. Scouts have “leave no trace” approach.

Will you consider including citizen science information when doing the ecological assessment? e.g. wildlife sitings, rare plants and birds.
Will DUC get input from local people with knowledge of the area for the ecological assessment?
DUC: Happy to receive local collective wisdom of the land. Similar to First nations.

Some have been encountering fat bikes in the winter using the ski trails and ruining the tracks.
DUC: Fat bikes have same impact as snowshoes and skis. Tremblant has separate trails for them.

DUC needs a media plan to communicate issues to the community, like when it’s hunting season.

Fear of throngs coming. How much advertising will DUC do to promote this property?
DUC: In better position once ecological assessment is done.

Is it DUC’s objectives to promote the property?
DUC: Objective is conservation.

If conservation is a priority, why do you want to get people in there?
DUC: Brand promotion. Can’t have two classes of citizens (local people and others).

Eli: The acquisition of this property is a good news story. It could have been developed. It could have been bought for private use and the public excluded.

How are you going to control Glenncastle parking?
DUC: Could use Crazy Horse Trail access. There are also solutions like restricted parking.

Can City buy the land beside the CH Trailhead?

Do you have liability insurance?
DUC – Yes.

How is DUC funded?
DUC – $90M budget. Some from governments. Some from individual donors, campaigns, some from major corporations (e.g. forest management). Example of a 3-nation projects for duck habitat, with US, Canada and Mexico.

Where is the fundraising campaign for the Hills?
DUC – $200,000. Just starting. To pay taxes, pay expenses for stewardship.

What about the ticks and the kids?
Nick Stow (City of Ottawa) – Ottawa Public Health monitors tick populations across the City and tests for Lyme disease.

It’s good to have people come to town for economic development reasons.

More than 1 in 3 ticks testing positive for Lyme Disease

From CTV News, 26 June 2017

Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Monday, June 26, 2017 5:16PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 26, 2017 6:45PM EDT

An Ottawa researcher is trying to figure out why the west end of our city is seeing a dramatic rise in the number of ticks carrying Lyme disease.  Epidemiologist Dr. Manisha Kulkarni says her research shows that at least one in every three ticks is carrying the bacteria that can cause a chronic and debilitating illness. The research so far shows about 30 to 40 percent of those west end ticks are testing positive for Lyme disease but Dr. Kulkarni believes it could be higher than that.

Brown bagging it has a whole new meaning at this University of Ottawa lab.

“So these are the samples that have come in from Ottawa Public Health,” says Dr. Kulkarni, as she opens a fridge in her uOttawa lab. 

“This is a weeks’ worth, so we’re probably looking at about 15 ticks per week,” she explains. 

They are ticks sent to Ottawa Public Health from members of the public, taken off themselves or their children.  They end up in Dr. Kulkarni’s lab for testing.

This year she says, there are far more ticks submitted than last year and many more testing positive for Lyme disease, especially those from Kanata, Carp and Stittsville. 

“We’re seeing a higher proportion of ticks from certain parts of west end,” she says, “more than 30 to 40% are positive in some areas.”

Dr. Kulkarni’s research project, funded in part by the Public health Agency of Canada, is trying to figure out why recreational trails, provincial and municipal parks in the west end are seeing a dramatic rise in the number of ticks. The thinking is that it is connected to a growing problem south of us, a problem creeping up a wooded corridor in the Kingston area that has a long-established tick problem.

“It does seem to be a corridor coming up from St. Lawrence Valley,” she says, “There’s a wooded corridor that seems to really prone to tick populations.”

Dr. Kulkarni’s students are monitoring that population in the Ottawa area by dragging for ticks in 19 parks and recreational paths across this city.  Charles Thickstun, who is a Masters students in Epidemiology says he and his two colleagues found no ticks today at the Rideau River Eastern Pathway park in Ottawa’s north east end but,

“The Greenbelt pathway, Stony Swamp and down Smiths Falls by Murphy Point,” he says, “We found quite a few there.”

That’s no surprise to Lesley Fleming.  She has Lyme disease and a keen interest in where those Lyme-carrying ticks are.  She dragged for ticks at the NCC recreational pathway behind the DND building off Moodie Drive a few weeks ago.  Of the two ticks she found, both tested positive for Lyme disease. The path is popular with both DND employees and dog walkers.

“I used to bring my dog here,” Fleming says, “and a year and a half ago; we found 7 ticks on her so I’ve never been back.”

She also dragged for ticks at a popular bird-watching spot in Shirley’s Bay.  One of the three ticks collected tested positive for Lyme.  Now, alongside the no-smoking and poison ivy signs, she’s pushing for signage to warn of ticks.

“The warning signs need to say there are ticks present that carry a high percentage of Lyme disease,” Fleming says, “with references to prevention material where people can find out how to take precautions

Ottawa Public Health says with the wet weather, it has yet to begin dragging for ticks but plans to start June 28th in Carp, Stittsville and Rockcliffe Park.  Later this summer, it will do tick drags in all areas of the city including east and south ends. OPH says to date, 88 ticks from the Ottawa area have been submitted and 17 or 19.3% have tested positive for Lyme disease.

Tree Cutting Near Hidden Lake Park

Updates to the Post made on 26 April are in Blue.

Summary:  It appears that the cutting occurred in an area zoned for development, probably without proper regard for consulting MVCA or MNRF or telling the neighbours, but generally it is lawful.

This post is meant to provide information about the property near Hidden Lake Park where tree cutting started on 23 April 2018.  Zoning Information is sourced from GeoOttawa and is current (confirmed).

First, the property consists of 35 acres (14 ha).  In the map below, it is shown in blue.  It has narrow road frontage on Carp Road shown in the bottom left.  The property is next to Hidden Lake Park, shown in purple on the the right hand side.

There are three zonings on the property, which are outlined in RED:

  • V2B – an L-shaped area where residences can be built,
  • DR1 – development reserve, a pie-shaped area where residences can be built, and
  • EP3 – environmental protection level 3 where a single residence can be built subject to various constraints.

(Speculation) There looks to be an option for a road from the DR1 zoned area between 157 and 165 Hidden Lake Crescent.

The next map shows that the V2B and the DR1 areas fall within the Community Design Plan for the village of Carp – see the pink overlay. Combined with the zoning, these areas are available for development at a density consistent with other development in the village.  (Note: The EP3 area does not fall within the CDP area.)

A Provincially Significant Wetland lies within the EP3 boundary. Permission of the conservation authority, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority in this case, must be given for any alteration of the wetland or any alteration of its hydrological function within120m of the wetland.  Part of the DR1 zoned area falls within the 120m boundary.  Councillor El-Chantiry has asked MVCA to visit the site to determine if there has been an impact on the wetland function.

The mica mine in Hidden Lake Park is located at the easternmost corner (right side) of the DR1 zoned area.  Looking at the logged area on 25 April from this vantage point, it would appear (this is opinion, not a fact) that logging has cleared the V2B and DR1 portions.

This City has confirmed that is has not received a planning application for this property, and thus cannot regulate tree cutting.  Ottawa’s Tree Conservation Bylaw only applies to the urban area and Carp lies outside the urban boundary.

So, what can we conclude?

  • Development of V2B and (part of) DR1 was a given.  Trees were going to be removed sometime.
  • Since there is currently no planning application, the City has no authority over the removal of the trees.
  • If there is no alteration of the wetland’s hydrological function within the 120m area, then there is no violation of regulations.

What’s in questions are:

Where?  Hidden Lake is a known nesting area for Species at Risk (SAR) Blanding’s turtles (Threatened status).  Under the Endangered Species Act, habitat cannot be damaged or destroyed, but the guidelines are flexible and require quite a bit of on-the-ground knowledge about the extent of the population and its habits in the area. 

When?  At the federal level the Migratory Bird Act comes into play as we’re into nesting season. In addition, the City has a Protocol for Wildlife Construction during Construction, but this does not apply to this property since there is no planning application.

How? (This is speculation) It is likely that the clearing of this property has been done without consultation with MVCA or MNRF.  Permission from the City was not required.

Who?  We want to make clear that the owner of this property is NOT the owner of the Hidden Lake property where the new house is being built behind Charlie’s Lane.  Please see our Post about Hidden Lake.

This is all the information we have at this point.  Updates will be made as more information becomes available.