DUC Property Management Plan

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has completed a management plan for its 440 acre property in the Carp Hills.

In February 2019, DUC met with representatives of FCH and the City of Ottawa to discuss the development of a 5 year management plan.  We used the property’s conservation objectives and the ecological study conducted in 2018 to guide the discussion and our decisions.  The conservation objectives are:

  • The Carp Hills property will be managed for the long-term conservation of its environmental, ecological, and biological values.
  • The Carp Hills property may be managed for provision of low impact, recreational uses, where those do not negatively affect the conservation objective.

Highlights of the Plan

Recreational Use – Permitted Activities

  • Pedestrian activities
    • Non-winter use – hiking on designated trail(s) only, which will be marked.
    • Winter use – hiking, snowshoeing, skiing – prefer people stay on the trail.
    • The trail will be accessed via a connection to the Crazy Horse Trail.
  • Snowmobiles
    • DUC has signed an agreement with the West Carleton Snowmobile Club that allows use of an existing trail that runs on the north and west sides of the property. The club has put up signs designating the trail for snowmobile use only and no ATVs.
  • Hunting
    • Hunters have traditionally used the property and DUC would like to continue to allow hunting in compliance with the City Discharge of Firearms By-law with limitations on the distance away from residences.
    • DUC will develop a hunting plan by fall 2019.  Potential conflict between trail use and hunting will be addressed.
    • Hunters must have permission from DUC to hunt on the property.
  • Dogs
    • Allowed, but must be on leash or under direct control.  Owners must pick up and remove dog waste.

Prohibited Activities

  • No ATV’s, dirt bikes, or other motorized vehicles
  • No mountain bikes or fat bikes
  • No camping or camp fires

DUC Carp Land Public Presentation – 27 Nov 2018

Here is Ducks Unlimited Canada’s presentation from their public meeting on 27 November 2018.

Here are notes on the questions, answers, and comments from the meeting.

Over 70 people attended (maybe a bit over 80)
DUC – Mark Gloutney, Director of Regional Operations – Eastern Region, and Erling Armson, Head of Land Securement, Invasive and Northern Programs
Councillor Eli El-Chantiry
City of Ottawa – Dr. Nick Stow, Senior Planner, Resiliency and Natural System Planning Unit
Friends of the Carp Hills executive
This was the second biggest property acquired by DUC in Ontario.
DUC emphasized that the land is private property and was bought for conservation as the number one priority. There will be no motorized vehicles, except for snowmobiles on the existing trail.
Erling Armson of DUC will work with FCH to manage the property.  Erling is located in Kingston. DUC signed a 21 year agreement with the Friends of the Carp Hills to help manage the property.
DUC and FCH will be working on a management plan informed by the ecological assessment and by input from the community.

  • Collaborative development of the management plan
  • Trail location, marking, maintenance
  • Property monitoring
  • Assist in conservation activities
  • Assist in Outreach around the property

The Management Plan will be updated every 5 years as we learn what works and as conditions change.
Holly Bickerton, consulting ecologist, presented a summary of her ecological study findings. She conducted her site assessment from June through September 2018.  
She showed an aerial photo from 1954. It showed that the 40 acre portion of the property (immediately behind Glenncastle Drive) used to be a farmed field, but the remaining 400 acres was uncultivated.  The 40 acre former field area had the lowest diversity and no significant species.

Geology of the site – granitic Canadian Shield – is what creates the unique ecology of the Carp Hills. The rock is not permeable, allowing for the creation of a wetland complex.
Most common habitat is rocky upland oak forest, which is interspersed with wetlands and beaver ponds.

She found 297 native plant species – this is high for property that is relatively homogenous.  If she had been on site earlier in the spring she would have found well over 300 species.

  • One – Hooker’s Orchid – is Provincially Significant.
  • 15 species are Regionally Significant.
  • Very high level of ecological integrity.
  • 11 bird species were found that require deep, interior forest habitat (e.g. Wood Thrush, which is a Species at Risk).
  • 18 Regionally Significant species were found nearby on the adjacent Crazy Horse Trail property.

Ecological highlights:

  • The native plant species present show a very high average coefficient of conservatism, indicating that the subject property enjoys an exceptionally high level of ecological integrity. There is an exceptionally low representation of non‐native species incomparison with other areas in the City of Ottawa. Very few aggressively invasive plant species are present.
  • Rock barrens and treed rock barrens are rare in the Ottawa area, are undisturbed, and contained many significant species.
  • Provincially Significant Wetland Complex.
  • Habitat for Species at Risk – rock barrens for ground nesting birds and ponds for turtles.
  • Size of the property – good forest interior, undisturbed, connection with adjacent land.

Management Concerns:

Trails – There is an extensive network of informal trails on the property. These should be reduced. Trail location should take ecologically sensitive sites into account.
Dumping and Encroachment – garden waste – people are tracking in invasive and non-native species.
Recreation – eliminate fire pits, manage trail erosion, protect any areas that cross wetlands.
No restoration of the site is required.
Increasing population pressures from adjacent areas and in the village need to be considered in the management plan.
DUC:  We want to look ahead seven generations. We want the land to be as beautiful and natural as it is now.

Questions and Answers and Comments
Q – What is the status of land around this property?
A – Land is either owned by the City or privately owned.  Land is designated by the City as a Natural Environment Area and zoned at the highest level of protection at EP3.
C from the audience – It makes sense to consider a broader management plan for both the DUC property and the adjacent Crazy Horse Trail property. Together these comprise 640 acres of ecologically significant land.
C from the audience – People will want to get to the DUC property via the Crazy Horse Trail.
Q – The area is vulnerable to fires.  Would DUC consider shutting down access during high fire season?
A – Hadn’t thought about this, but will consider it.
C from DUC – We distinguish between winter and non-winter trails.  Winter use is low impact and there is less concern about trail location. Non-winter use brings risk of erosion, tracking in of invasive species seeds, and wildlife disruption.
Q – Is the perimeter going to be marked?  Are people who live along the edges expanding into it?
A – There is not too much yard waste.  DUC surveyed the 40 acre portion of the property to confirm property boundaries and this confirmed residents’ views on their property lines.
C from the audience – Concern that with the property being “advertised” that it will bring in more people and negatively impact the ecology.
A – We don’t see groomed winter trails – they will be “back country”.  Non-winter trails will be marked and managed. Need to manage property use through education.
Q – How do you manage access?  More people will be coming.
A – Parking and access are an issue. There are no easy access points.
Q – What about mountain bikes?
A – Rock barrens are particularly sensitive.
[There was some discussion from the audience about the Carp Barrens issues, but this is a different area and was not relevant to the meeting.]
Q – How do we go about ensuring that people adhere to how DUC wants the property to be used?
A – DUC could have closed the property to people, but good conservation practices help people connect to nature.  FCH will be the local eyes for monitoring. We will look at a reporting mechanism for violations.
C from DUC – ATVs are using the property and this needs to be addressed.
C from DUC – Human use has to be dealt with on many properties.  DUC could ultimately decide to close this property to people if human use becomes a problem such that the ecological integrity is threatened.
C from FCH – The Crazy Horse Trail was put in 3 years ago and people have stayed on the trail.  Use is steady, but not high. The Carp Hills have a high tick population so off-trail wandering is not a good idea anyway. The ticks, mosquitos, and black flies keep non-winter use to a hardy few!
Q – What about hunting? It’s a traditional use that’s been practiced on the property, primarily duck hunting and deer hunting (bow).
A – Hunting was allowed this fall and will likely continue to be allowed.  Will look at managing this with other human use.

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.

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.

9 May Public Meeting About DUC Acquisition


Building a Natural Retreat Together
Public invited to provide input on future of Carp Hills property

Have your say about one of the largest, environmentally significant areas remaining in the National Capital Region—the Carp Hills property.

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is hosting a public forum to share ideas related to the newly acquired, 178-hectare (440-acre) conservation land in the southern Carp Hills region. This property represents the largest natural area acquisition with the City of Ottawa since its amalgamation.

Local residents, and all those interested, are invited to Carp Memorial Hall, Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. to learn more about DUC’s conservation mandate, ask questions and share their comments about the future of the Carp Hills property.

About the Carp Hills property: The Carp Hills property is a mixture of provincially significant wetlands, forest cover and grasslands set amidst unique Canadian Shield rock formations. The property is adjacent to existing conservation areas, creating an essential natural corridor that supports and connects wildlife habitat. Carp Hills is renowned for its high biodiversity of plants and animals, including species at risk like the Blanding’s turtle, a species listed as endangered under the Canada Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Finding the right balance to conserve landscapes for wildlife while continuing to provide people with recreational opportunities is an important goal of this project, and this event.

Join us so we can get to know each other and work together to benefit people and wildlife in our community.

What:                                        Public forum on the Carp Hills Property
Residents and others are invited to meet their new partner in conservation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and provide input on the future of the 440-acre property.

When:                                       Wednesday, May 9, 2018, Time: 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Where:                                                       Carp Memorial Hall, 3739 Carp Road, Carp, ON