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.
- 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.
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.