What We Accomplished in 2019

Our major activities in 2019 were twofold:  adding almost 50m of new boardwalk to the Crazy Horse Trail and conducting a trail impact study on the Carp Barrens.  The study confirmed the site’s high ecological quality, identified 20 regionally significant plant species, and documented evidence for the area being critical habitat for two Threatened Species at Risk:  Blanding’s turtles and Eastern Whip-poor-will.
 
Here’s what we and our dedicated volunteers accomplished in 2019:

  • We contracted ecologist Holly Bickerton to conduct a trail impact study for the Carp Barrens.  Three reports were developed and sent to the City of Ottawa with recommendations for managing human use while protecting ecological integrity and wildlife.
  • We ran two events in 2019: a spring nature walk with Canadian Wildlife Service biologist and Carp Hills resident Rich Russell and a fall mushroom hunt with mycologist George White.
  • With grant funding (see below), we added almost 50m of new boardwalks by bridging wet areas.
  • Our trail coordinator implemented a team approach to managing maintenance of the Crazy Horse Trail, dividing it into three sections with team leads and volunteers.
  • We were awarded a grant from the Rural Community-Building Grant Program for Carp Hills Trail System activities.
  • With grant funding for the signs, fifteen Environmental Protection Zone signs were installed by the city along Thomas Dolan Parkway.
  • We were awarded a grant from the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club for the Carp Barrens Trail Study.
  • We worked with Ducks Unlimited Canada and the City of Ottawa to develop a management plan for DUC’s 440 acre property in the Carp Hills.
  • We held our sixth AGM and public meeting in April and raised over $600 for the Carp Barrens Trail Study.
  • We offered on-line membership application, renewal, and payment.
  • We published another article about the “History of the Hills” and continued to interview “old timers” about what they can remember about the Carp Hills.
  • Our Facebook group grew by over 50 members to 466 at the end of 2019.
  • We sent out 4 newsletters during the year to a subscriber base that grew to 277 by the end of 2019.
  • We chose a logo for our organization.
  • 21 people are contributing their observations of flora and fauna in the Carp Hills to our Carp Hills Bio-Inventory Project in iNaturalist.  We now have 1213 observations and 443 species confirmed.

2019 Events & News

January 2020 – What We Accomplished in 2020

Our major activities in 2019 were twofold:  adding almost 50m of new boardwalk to the Crazy Horse Trail and conducting a trail impact study on the Carp Barrens.  The study confirmed the site’s high ecological quality, identified 20 regionally significant plant species, and documented evidence for the area being critical habitat for two Threatened Species at Risk:  Blanding’s turtles and Eastern Whip-poor-will.  For a complete list of our activities, read our post.

November 2019 – Carp Barrens Trail Study Phase 2 Report

Consulting ecologist Holly Bickerton has completed her Phase 2 report for the Carp Barrens Trail Study. Her focus was on determining the extent of turtle nesting, the presence of species at risk birds and rare/unusual plant species, and the impact of human use. You can read a summary of the report’s finding in our post:  Carp Barrens Trail Study – Phase 2 Report.

The single largest impact of the trail network is the incursion of human presence into a previously inaccessible and regionally significant, high quality natural area. Cyclists, hikers, dog walkers and naturalists have all been observed using the area.

While it may be possible to mitigate some impacts, the effect of intensifying human presence on the critical habitat of species at risk and on the area’s high ecological integrity cannot.  This issue will be addressed in the Phase 3 report.

27 October 2019 – New Boardwalk Completed

The new section of boardwalk beside the snowmobile track is now finished. With the efforts of Brian (Master Craftsman Extraordinaire) Roadhouse, Marc (Louis Cyr) Savard, and Julian (The Machine) Romeskie, we have installed 120 feet of new boardwalk. This involved clearing a new path on the west side of the snowmobile track, and adding an access ramp to the existing plank boardwalk, also on the west side of the snowmobile track. This new section is useful in keeping pedestrian traffic on City-owned land (away from private property), and getting over some chronically wet sections of the trail.

Funding for this project’s materials was provided by the City of Ottawa’s Rural Community Building Grant Program with support from Councillor Eli El-Chantiry. Built by skilled and dedicated volunteer labour. Thank you!

5 October 2019 – Fall Mushroom Guided Hike

Mycologist George White delighted a crowd of about 30 keen-eyed fungi enthusiasts on a beautiful autumn day on the Crazy Horse Trail.  We found Earthstars, Velvetfoot, Cowboy’s Handkerchief, orange jellies, puffballs, and many more. For photos posted by the participants, check out our Facebook page.

 

 

July 2019 – Crazy Horse Trail Bridge Extended

Bridge at the Beaver Pond LoopFCH volunteers extended the bridge at the beaver pond.  Rising water levels had left both ends of the existing bridge under water, making it challenging to cross and complete the loop around the pond.

For a “before” photo, see our Facebook page.

Thank you to our busy beavers:  trail coordinator Bernard Proulx and carpenter extraordinaire Brian Roadhouse, who worked all day in the heat and mosquito clouds.  Thanks also to Rich Russell for providing quick access to the bridge site through his property.

June 2019 – FCH Awarded Rural Community-Building Grant

The City of Ottawa has awarded the Friends of the Carp Hills a grant for its Carp Hills Trail System Project.  The award is from the Rural Community-Building Grants Program.  It will fund:

  • enhancements to the Crazy Horse Trail for new boardwalks across wet areas;
  • Phases 2 and 3 of the Carp Barrens Trail Study to evaluate the impact of human traffic and determine mitigation measures; and
  • signs for the Carp Barrens to educate about its special, fragile ecology.

Thank you to Councillor El-Chantiry for his support of our work.

28 April 2019 – Spring Has Sprung in the Carp Hills

There were many highlights from the 3.5 hour guided nature hike on the Crazy Horse Trail. Canadian Wildlife Service biologist Rich Russell noted about 30 bird species, four frog species, and two turtle species. Some key finds: a Pied-billed Grebe, Chorus Frogs, Blanding’s turtles, Broad-winged Hawk, Pine Warblers, Swamp Sparrows, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

Rich is a Carp Hills resident, wildlife biologist, and outdoors enthusiast.  We were lucky to get some of Rich’s time before he headed up north in May. Thank you, Rich!

16 April 2019 – OFNC Awards Research Grant to Carp Barrens Study

We’re pleased to announce that the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club has awarded FCH a research grant to support the Carp Barrens Trail Study, which will assess the ecological impact of human use on the Carp Barrens.  We have also received a generous donation from the Macnamara Field Naturalists’ Club and have raised over $1500 from individual donors.  To donate, please read about the study:  Carp Barrens Trail Study.

3 April 2019 – Annual General Meeting and Public Briefing

About 40 people came out to our 6th annual public meeting and AGM. New directors Janet Campbell and Anne Chapman Wong, and returning director Chris Busby were elected to the board. Holly Bickerton delighted the crowd with her natural history presentation about the Carp Hills, and about the special plants and animals she discovered last summer on the Ducks Unlimited Canada property and the Crazy Horse Trail.  We reached our goal of raising an additional $600 through donations to support our Carp Barrens Trail Study. 

We’d like to thank our generous local businesses for providing door prizes for our meeting last night. Please support them.

Carp Massage Therapy and Yoga
Home Hardware(DEKA) Building Supplies
Juke Joint
Alice’s Village Cafe
Pawsh Pets
Christine and Eric Brackenbury
Carp Pizza
Pizza Workz
Ridge Rock Brewing Co.
The Hive.

Thank you to Karen Pritchard for visiting the businesses to request the prizes

March 2019 – Membership

Join us!  Membership fees help make our work possible.  Membership entitles you to participate in and to elect directors at our Annual General Meeting.

Membership runs on a calendar year basis.  Three terms are available:
1 year – $20
2 years – $35
3 years – $45

We’ve added an online membership form and online payment through PayPal for new and renewing members.  You can also renew/purchase a membership at our public meeting on 1 April or send us a cheque via post.  See our Membership web page for details.

New membership applications must be approved by the Board of the Friends of the Carp Hills. By becoming a member, you are agreeing in general with the Vision, Mission, and Goals of the organization.

February 2019 – Carp Barrens Human Impact Study

We need to raise $6000 to conduct an ecological assessment of increased human activity on the Carp Barrens.  Read out post here for more information about the study and how to donate or click the button below to go directly to the payment page.

 

Wetlands are Natural Infrastructure

From Ducks Unlimited Canada’s September 2019 newsletter comes this excellent summary about the value of wetlands as natural infrastructure.

“As our climate changes, damaging weather events will happen more frequently. Turn on the news and you’ll see how this affects the places where we live, work, and play. Investing in natural infrastructure is a significant step to address these challenges.

Here’s the 101: rather than building structures, we say use natural tools and techniques like restored wetlands and uplands planted with native grasses. Not only do these areas look beautiful and support wildlife, but they also act as sponges in heavy rains, they purify and store water, they reduce sediment and nutrient loading and slow stormwater runoff.”

Restored wetlands and uplands can address an array of environmental challenges. © DUC

Fall Mushroom Guided Hike – 5 October 2019

We are holding a mushroom-themed guided nature hike on the Crazy Horse Trail on Saturday, 5 October at 1pm.  Professional mycologist George White will share his considerable knowledge and enthusiasm on a fungi discovery journey. There is a $10 participation fee per person payable at the event; children 16 and under are free. You must sign a waiver (see below) to participate.

The cool, moist days of fall tell the fungi that live in the soil and on rotting wood that it’s time to fruit and disperse their spores into this hospitable environment. Thus the fruiting body of fungi – mushrooms – emerge to delight us with their variety of shapes and colours: black “Dead’s Man’s Fingers”, bright orange “Lobster mushrooms”, and giant shelf fungi clinging to the trunks of maple trees.

Trail Conditions Checked on Thursday, 3 October – The trail is damp and slippery in places, but not too wet.  Water resistant hiking boots should be adequate.  Lots of mushrooms!

Download, print, and sign the waiver (PDF). Bring your copy to the event. We will have a few blank copies on-site if you forget to bring it.

Meet at the trailhead on March Road at Huntmar Drive by 12:50pm to sign-in before our 1:00 pm start. We will go out rain or shine. However, if it’s raining hard, we may cancel the event. Check our web site for confirmation.

About your guide, George P. White

George began his mycological career with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada where he participated in taxonomic research on molds and other microfungi. He also worked with insects, viruses, nematodes and mycoplasmas and participated in the National Identification Service then offered by AAFC. For 16 years, he was the quarantine mycologist at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency where he was responsible for detecting and identifying fungal pests in imported and exported agricultural commodities. As the Mould Manager, George currently runs a consulting company, RIFDS Inc, where he uses his skills to find and identify fungi for people facing mold issues in indoor settings.

Nature Hike: Spring has Sprung in the Carp Hills

Event moved to our rain date – Sunday, 28 April due to poor weather.

Join Canadian Wildlife Service biologist Rich Russell for a nature hike on the Crazy Horse Trail on Sunday, 28 April at 9:00am.  Pre-registration, payment of $20, and signing a waiver are required.  Discover early-arrival migratory birds, early-emergent wildflowers, amphibians, and maybe turtles.

Rich is a Carp Hills resident, wildlife biologist, and outdoors enthusiast.  We’re lucky to get some of Rich’s time before he heads up north in May.  Rich has offered to bring an acoustic recording unit to discuss the application of technology in bird monitoring programs, like for the upcoming Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas.  He says that migration is already underway so we should see/hear kinglets, phoebes, pine warblers, thrushes, and sparrows. We may hear wood frogs and peepers.  If it’s a sunny day perhaps a winter-weary turtle will be basking in one of the ponds where we’ve seen them in the past.

Registration

For the enjoyment of participants we are limiting this event to 25 people.  Ten people signed up at our AGM so act soon!  The cost is $20 per person; children under 16 are free.  Proceeds help cover the cost of our insurance so that we can offer these events.  Please register by buying your ticket(s) on-line using Eventbrite: Spring Has Sprung in the Carp Hills.

Instructions

The trail will be wet, muddy, and slippery.  Rubber boots are a requirement as we will likely be wading through large puddles.  

Download, print, and sign the waiver (PDF).  Bring your copy to the event.  We will have a few blank copies on-site if you forget to bring it.

Meet at the trailhead on March Road at Huntmar Drive by 8:50am to sign-in before our 9:00 am start.

Bring binoculars, a camera, and your curiosity!

Rain Date

We will go out rain or shine.  However, if it’s raining hard, we may postpone the event to Sunday, 28 April. Check our web site for confirmation.

Impacts of Dogs on Wildlife

The spring melt down is revealing a large amount of dog poop on the Crazy Horse Trail and in the woods. We’re lucky to have this trail open for dog walkers.  Dogs are banned in many sensitive natural areas owned by the City and the National Capital Commission.

There are many justifications used by dog owners for not picking up dog poop.  But there are studies that show how dog poop has deleterious effects on wildlife and the environment:

  • It’s not just your dog leaving its waste; it’s many dogs a day doing so. This volume of waste with alien microbes from non-native animals is introduced into an ecosystem that is not set up to handle it.
  • Dogs can transmit diseases such as Canine Distemper Virus to wildlife.
  • Dog waste fouls the water.
  • It’s unsightly and smelly for trail users.
  • Your dog can get sick from eating other dogs’ poop or from lapping up fouled water.

For reference, we’ve loaded a two page summary of research on: Impacts of Dogs on Wildlife (PDF)

So if you’re out with your dog on the trail, please be a responsible owner:

  • Keep your dog under control by the trail at all times.
  • Pick up and carry out your dog’s poop.
  • Do not let your dog chase wildlife.